Science needs to start speaking to people’s everyday lives in Africa

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scienceBy Marina Joubert
There have been wide-ranging reactions from the scientific community after a South African university student called for “Western” science to be eradicated.
The young woman argued that science “is a product of western modernity” and suggested that decolonisation would begin with the introduction of “knowledge that is produced by us, that speaks to us and that is able to accommodate knowledge from our perspective”.
She was widely ridiculed on social media. But there was also an acknowledgement from some quarters that young black South Africans feel excluded from science.
Veteran science journalists Sarah Wild and Linda Nordling conceded that the way science is taught and practised in Africa is not socially inclusive. It mostly ignores African perspectives on science and contributions to the field. The accomplishments of African scientists deserve far more attention.
Wild and Nordling argue – and I agree – that science can and should be decolonised. This can be achieved in a number of ways, like giving more attention to local research challenges and research outcomes relevant to everyday life in Africa.
Better communication between science and society is also crucial. But communication experts also know that relevance – connecting science with people’s everyday lives – is as important as conveying information.
This would help kill the myth that science somehow belongs to white people.

Marina Joubert, Science Communication Researcher, Stellenbosch University

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Posted by on November 16, 2016. Filed under Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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