An exploration of the Akans’ (Ghana) and Zulus’ (South Africa) culturally-specific environmental ethics: implications for culturally-specific senior high school biology/life sciences[s] curriculum development and teaching.
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Indigenous and local communities are repositories of the world’s genetic resources and biodiversity is interwoven with the well-being of indigenous people who have utilized it throughout millennia. This constant interaction by indigenous people with biological components of the environment has brought about various innovative ways of knowing and practices which include both science and indigenous knowledge. Many indigenous practices have been found to foster and enrich biodiversity at the local level, as well as help sustain salubrious ecosystems. This study explored the Akans of Ghana and the Zulus of South Africa Culturally-Specific Environmental Ethics (CSEE), how these CSEE could be taught in senior high schools’ biology/Life Sciencess curriculum, and the implications (prospects and challenges) for such teaching. The main purpose of the study was to explore the participants’ (indigenous knowledge holders of the Akan and Zulu cultural groups’) understandings, perceptions, practices and communication regarding their cultural groups’ peculiar environmental ethics, referred to as CSEE in this study. The study sought the views of both the indigenous knowledge-holders of the respective cultures and their senior high school biology/Life Sciences teachers. The research employed a multi-site ethnographic, naturalistic research style situated within the interpretivist paradigm to explore the phenomena under study. In-depth conversational interviews were used to collect qualitative data from the purposively selected participants using the snowball technique. The data generation process involved the production of a narrative analysis for each participant. The study found that there are diverse understandings, perceptions, practices and modes of communication among the Akan and Zulu cultural groups used to help value and care for their natural resources, as well as utilizing them sustainably. The understandings, perceptions, practices and communication for their CSEE are interwoven together and inform one another. A model for how to teach CSEE and other indigenous knowledge related topics in senior high schools’ science classrooms in Ghana and South Africa was developed from the research findings. The study found that in-spite of the many prospects for teaching CSEE in senior high schools, its effective teaching and resilience might be threatened by political, religious, socio-cultural and economic issues; and that the demand for proof and experimentation for many of the CSEE perceptions and practices, coupled with various forms of stigmatization are key challenges anticipated.