Since the collapse of apartheid and the first democratic elections of 1994, education in South Africa has undergone fundamental transformation and part of this transformation was the reconstruction of the school curriculum. The new curriculum, known as Curriculum 2005 and developed in 1997, introduced Technology as a new learning area. This study is based on the inclusion of ‘indigenous technology and culture’, a new aspect introduced in a revision of Curriculum 2005. The broad goal of the study was to examine and explore pedagogic practice in relation to the inclusion of ‘indigenous technology and culture’ in the revised National Curriculum Statement for Technology.
The study was informed by an examination of literature pertaining to philosophy of technology, indigenous knowledge systems and technology education. The review of the literature highlighted the contested nature of ‘indigenous knowledge systems’. Philosophies on the nature of technological knowledge were reviewed in order to explore the meaning of ‘technology’, and a comparative review of curriculum reform in regard to technology education in various parts of the world was conducted.
This study presented an attempt to determine the rationale for the inclusion of ‘indigenous technology and culture’ in the revised National Curriculum Statement for Technology in South Africa and to explore and examine what teachers’ existing practices were in this regard. It also examined a process of participatory coengagement with a focus group of teachers. This process was an attempt to implement ‘indigenous technology and culture’ of the curriculum in a more meaningful way. A case study approach using an in-depth, interpretive design was used. A questionnaire, document analysis, interviews and focus group discussions were used to conduct the investigation. What emerged from the data analysis was that there was unanimous support for the inclusion of ‘indigenous technology and culture’ in the technology curriculum, but implementation had been problematic. This was partly due to difficulties with the interpretation of this aspect in the curriculum as well as a lack of meaningful teaching and learning for various reasons. The study revealed that teachers face multiple dilemmas in implementing ‘indigenous technology and culture’ as an assessment standard. These dilemmas are pedagogical, political, conceptual, professional and cultural in nature.
The intentions of the study were to build a comprehensive understanding of ‘indigenous technology and culture’ and to determine how a focus group of teachers were dealing with this new inclusion. The interpretive study concluded with implications and recommendations for further studies.