Change the world


First-year PhD science student, Nehemiah Latolla frequently participates in teaching and learning events hosted by the Office of the DVC: Teaching and Learning. He is always eager to share his views on decolonisation and Africanisation of the sciences.

In a conversation relating teaching and learning within the sciences, Latolla shared that, “from my prior learning experiences, the receptional approach has dominated the teaching and learning of science. This involved the lecturer transmitting information and the student receiving information.” However, Latolla states: “This is problematic in many ways as the student is not afforded the opportunity to engage with the science and move from inert knowledge towards a more meaningful understanding of the knowledge. I think the implementation of transformative approaches to science teaching and learning is crucial for the success of the student entering our academic programmes.”

Decolonisation and Africanisation have been forerunning topics in current discussions on curriculum renewal within teaching and learning. Latolla highlighted that, “although many will argue that Colonisation was a period and it ended, I think it is important to recognise the effect of colonisation that is still present. The effect is one of the mindset-coloniality and this is the problem that we need to address when we speak about decolonisation.” Latolla raises questions he believes should be asked when addressing the matter of decolonisation: “Who is the curriculum speaking to?” and “Is the curriculum inclusive of all bodies present?” Bearing these questions in mind he says, “I think our current curriculum is found wanting and thus it falls upon us to rectify this. The South African curricula, therefore, needs to address an African student regardless of race; striving for the inclusion of all within the African context.”

Speaking on the measures required to achieve decolonised curricula in the sciences, Latolla shares that, “The first mistake we tend to make is to dub science as a Western construct (exclusively), and on many levels, in the past, this has been true because those in power controlled the voices that were being heard. However, today, science is a global endeavour and can no longer be seen as exclusively Western. Decolonisation of the sciences … falls on how it is being taught and the engagement of African indigenous knowledge systems as complementary concepts.”

Giving practical steps to achieving this within the sciences curricula, Latolla shares that, “we therefore need to use a social constructivism model in teaching and learning of the sciences. This also leads us to the humanizing pedagogy, the importance of recognising all bodies present within the conversation speaking towards their context.” Nehemiah Latolla shed light on how this can be achieved by stating that the sciences need to engage students actively with scientific phenomena through engagement in both use and application of scientific knowledge, through multiple representations, through the use of different learning communities and the incorporation of authentic tasks. Latolla shares that, “students struggle to make the connection between scientific concepts because of the independent ways in which linked-concepts are taught. The sciences need to offer the student contextual knowledge that moves towards procedural knowledge and ultimately enable the student to form metacognitive knowledge.

Nehemiah Latolla strongly believes that particularly in the sciences, we need to add to the current structures of our indigenous knowledge and recognise the context within which we are teaching and learning.

Watch the video here:


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Mrs Nadia Mukadam
Research Assistant and Administrator
Tel: 0415043266