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  • 1. IAU 2014 International Conference Iquitos, Peru, 19-21 March 2014 Blending Higher Education and Traditional Knowledge for Sustainable Development Plenary II: The Role of Higher Education in Promoting Sustainable Development “Using Traditional Knowledge for Achieving Sustainable Development in Africa” Goolam Mohamedbhai Honorary President, International Association of Universities Former Secretary-General, Association of African Universities Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Mauritius
  • 2. Outline of Presentation  What is Traditional Knowledge?  Africa and the MDGs  Traditional Knowledge and Africa’s Development  Threats to Traditional Knowledge in Africa  Institutionalising Traditional Knowledge  Indigenous Knowledge Rights  Future Development Agenda
  • 3. What is Traditional Knowledge (TK)?  “Knowledge that a local or indigenous community has accumulated over generations of living in a particular community to achieve stable livelihoods”  Other commonly used terms:  Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) (common in SSA)  Local Knowledge (LK)  Indigenous Technical Knowledge (ITK)  TK can be in craftsmanship, medicine, languages, performing arts (music, dance), agriculture, etc.
  • 4. Africa and the MDGs  According to 2013 MDG Report, Africa will not achieve several of key MDGs by 2015 (e.g. reduction in: poverty, undernourished children, child and maternal mortality)  Development in Africa heavily supported by foreign assistance, mainly from North  External funding accompanied by imported knowledge  Africa should use technological experiences of North, but should also embed traditional knowledge in its development strategies
  • 5. TK and Africa’s Development (1/2)  Africa has rich body of TK or IKS, used for hundreds of years to solve developmental & environmental problems  IKS widely used in rural areas – where 60% of SSA’s population live & where development challenges are greatest  Well-documented examples of positive impact of TK on Africa’s development exist  For example, cases documented by World Bank in its Indigenous Knowledge for Development Programme (IKDP) launched in 1998 (see next slide)  TK can also assist Africa in coping with climate change e.g. in Nigeria, TK of weather forecasts used by farmers to complement crop-planning activities
  • 6. TK and Africa’s Development (2/2) WB’s IKDP Documented Cases (about 93 published as IK Notes) include:  Improving primary education using local language in West Africa  Provision of primary health care to reduce child mortality in Eritrea & maternal mortality in Uganda  Empowering women in Senegal to help eradicate female circumcision  Helping communities in Mozambique to manage coastal natural resources  Using traditional medicinal plants in Zimbabwe to treat malaria
  • 7. Threats to TK in Africa  TK always transmitted verbally by one generation to another; difficulty for older generation to communicate their beliefs & practices to younger, scientifically-educated one. When older generation passes away, knowledge lost  Reticence in using TK by scientists, politicians and development experts: TK considered anecdotal & not scientifically supported  TK being wiped out because of rapid changes due to imported economic, cultural & political developmental models  Urgent need for protecting, documenting, studying & widely disseminating TK in Africa to promote development – HEIs are ideally positioned to do this
  • 8. Institutionalising TK (1/2)  Few African countries have incorporated TK in their National Development Plans; National Councils on S&T rarely undertake TK activities  TK to be integrated into curricula from primary thru to secondary & higher education  Some work done by African universities on TK (e.g. traditional healers, medicinal plants), but work rather disparate and difficult to sustain  African Journal on IKS, Indilinga, published bi-annually in South Africa – mainly papers from SA  Need to embed IKS in all university teaching, research & outreach activities. Best achieved through a dedicated IKS centre
  • 9. Institutionalising TK (2/2)  Some unis have set up dedicated IKS centre e.g.  Centre for Scientific Research, IK & Innovation (CesrIKi) at Univ of Botswana  CoE in IKS at North-West Uni, in collaboration with Unis of Limpopo & Venda in South Africa (NWU runs a Bachelor in Indigenous Knowledge Systems)  Institute of IK at Mbarara Uni of S&T, Uganda  Another model: creation of a local/national centre e.g.  CEIKS in Ghana, which also covers West Africa  Similar centres in Cameroon, Madagascar & Nigeria  DST/NRF IKS CoE, with hub at Uni KwaZulu Natal, Durban
  • 10. Indigenous Knowledge Rights  Protection of rights of indigenous people over their TK an important issue  Indigenous communities concerned about appropriation of their knowledge by researchers, in and out of Africa, without permission or respect for customary law & little benefit to them  Under WTO, copyrights and patents are accelerating use and privatisation of indigenous knowledge  But IPR (appropriate for commercial inventions and granting exclusive rights) is not appropriate for TK  Protecting rights & privileges of TK holders is complex – Africa should learn from experiences in other regions
  • 11. Future Development Agenda (1/2)  Global support for IKS in Africa seems to be waning  World Bank’s IK Development Programme stopped in 2006  Nuffic (Netherlands) created an IK Unit in early 1990s; regular reports, especially on Africa, published; activities ceased in early 2000s  Donors & development agencies must support Africa’s development through IKS  In shaping post-2015 development agenda for SSA, it is vital to integrate IKS in development process  As key development actors, African HEIs must incorporate IKS in their Strategic Plans
  • 12. Future Development Agenda (2/2)  African Development Bank’s Strategy for Higher Education, Science & Technology (2008) supports IK and specifically mentions:  Study impact of IK in local economies  Mainstream IK in curricula at all education levels  Identify capacity need for protecting & commercializing IK  Brazil, China & India are assisting Africa in its development & all have rich and long tradition of IKS  IKS could be a fruitful area of collaboration between HEIs in Africa and these countries, specifically for:  Protection /promotion of IKS through institutionalisation  Translating research on IKS into national policies  Protection of indigenous knowledge rights
  • 13. THANK YOU