Reforming the school curriculum for Ubuntu (humanness)

A critical discourse analysis




School curriculum reform, Indigenous knowledge, Ubuntu, Post-colonial societies, Southern Theory, Critical discourse analysis


School curriculum in post-colonial societies has been castigated, not only as alien and irrelevant, but as dehumanizing and marginalizing to the indigenous people. This study gleans insights into how Ubuntu (humanness) – a strand of indigenous African knowledge - is being implemented in Zimbabwe’s New Curriculum Framework 2015-2022. This qualitative desktop study, couched within the Southern Theory framework, teases the enactment of Ubuntu (or lack of it) in classroom practice. Critical discourse analysis was adopted as the research design in reviewing 15 studies published between 2016 and 2021 on the implementation of Ubuntu in Zimbabwean primary and secondary schools. Findings indicate that, while Ubuntu is espoused as the overarching reform philosophy, not much has been done to nurture classroom practice that promotes collective participation, communitarianism, humility, and love for humanity – the key principles of Ubuntu. This critical discourse shows that most teachers, because of their training, limited knowledge, urbanization and westernization, are not keen to practice Ubuntu in their classrooms. Paltry salaries and poor working conditions also demotivate most teachers from embracing curriculum change and experimenting with new ideas.


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Author Biographies

Godsend Chimbi, University of the Free State

Dr Godsend T. Chimbi holds a PhD in Curriculum Studies from the University of the Free State (South Africa) where he graduated in June 2019. He is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow under the SANRAL Chair in Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology Education at the University of the Free State. His research interests are in curriculum reform, policy implementation, classroom practice and history pedagogy. 

Corresponding author for this article +27 62 730 8084

ORCID: 0000-0002-6417-4355

Prof Loyiso Jita, University of the Free State

Prof Loyiso C. Jita obtained his PhD in Curriculum, Teaching and Educational Policy at Michigan State University, USA. He is a Professor in the School of Education Studies where he is also the SANRAL Chair in Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology Education at the University of the Free State. Professor Jita has published over 60 articles on instructional leadership, teacher development, curriculum reform policy, policy implementation, Science and Mathematics education. He has presented over 50 papers at local and international conferences. He is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Education and the editor-in-chief for the accredited journal, Perspectives in Education (PIE).



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How to Cite

Chimbi, G., & Jita, L. (2022). Reforming the school curriculum for Ubuntu (humanness): A critical discourse analysis. International Journal of Research in Business and Social Science (2147- 4478), 11(5), 439–448.



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