African indigenous knowledge, african state formation, and education

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Nationalist movements often draw on Indigenous forms of knowledge to create a sense of national identity, and national schooling systems become a key site for promoting Indigenous knowledge. Interventions to include Indigenous knowledge in education occurred due to, on the one hand, views of young people (that they were significant for future of the nation and more malleable than adults) and, on the other hand, views of schooling (that they valued alien forms of knowledge and could be changed because they were directly under state control). Many African anticolonial struggles and postcolonial states similarly made use of “tradition.” This chapter explores the case of Ghana to promote the teaching of “Ghanaian culture” in schools as a way of understanding the role of Indigenous knowledge in African nation-state formation. It assesses the goals of these actors, as well as what actually happened in schools, as students and teachers responded to these programs. It explores the ways that Indigenous knowledge became systematized and simplified in certain ways as it became incorporated into school curricula and pedagogy, as well as the possibilities it created for new pedagogical practices. Although relegated to the margins of the school curriculum, I argue that the teaching of Indigenous knowledge through the lens of national culture helped create a sense of national identity in Ghana.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of African Education and Indigenous Knowledge
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783030382773
ISBN (Print)9783030382766
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


  • Ghana education
  • Ghanaian culture
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • National identity formation
  • Pedagogical practices
  • Postcolonial
  • School curricula


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