Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Decolonising Knowledge Production: The Pedagogic Relevance of Gandhian Satyagraha to Schooling and Education in Ghana

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Decolonising Knowledge Production: The Pedagogic Relevance of Gandhian Satyagraha to Schooling and Education in Ghana

Article excerpt

In this article, I examine how Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violent resistance (Satyagraha) can be applied to decolonize schooling and education practices in Ghana. Satyagraha consists of three fundamental elements: appeal to the oppressor, non-cooperation, and civil disobedience. Part of an anti-racist and anti-colonial discourse, Satyagraha is a strategy, epistemology, and methodology for creating spaces for inclusion of Ghanaian Indigenous knowledge and worldview in school curricula and pedagogy. This article is also informed by my lived experiences and observations as an Indigenous student from Ghana. I conclude the article with a discussion of the benefits and dangers inherent in such transformative work.

Key words: anti-racism, anti-colonial, non-violence, spirituality

Dans cet article, l'auteur montre comment la philosophie de non-violence (satyagraha) de Gandhi peut etre raise a profit pour dOcoloniser l'ecole et les pratiques pedagogiques au Ghana. Le satyagraha comprend trois elements essentiels : l'appel a l'oppresseur, la non-cooperation et la desobeissance civile. Partie integrante d'un discours antiraciste et anticolonial, le satyagraha est une strategie, une epistemologie et une methodologie visant a creer des espaces pour l'inclusion d'une vision du monde et d'un savoir proprement ghaneens quant aux programmes scolaires et a la pedagogie. Cet article repose aussi sur l'experience personnelle et les observations de l'auteur en tant qu'etudiant ghaneen. L'article se termine par une discussion des bienfaits et des dangers inherents a un tel travail de transformation.

Mots cles : antiracisme, anti-colonial, non-violence, spiritualite


Despite the attainment of political independence on March 6, 1957, Ghana's schooling and education system is still dominated by Euro-American canon, worldview, and epistemology. For this reason, Koney (2005) posed the following question: Should we equate Ghana's independence to an independent Ghana? The question suggests that although Ghana is said to be independent with its own national flag, anthem, currency, parliament, and education system, its institutions including education are under colonial domination and control.

In this article, I analyze selected texts of Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violent resistance (Satyagraha) and how it can be applied to decolonize schooling and education in Ghana. I interrogate and agitate for educational reforms that incorporate the material and spiritual realities of students in Ghana's schools. These critical questions guide the article:

* In what ways does Satyagraha as spirituality addresses issues of equity in education in Ghana?

* To what extent does resistance through the application of Satyagraha reflect basic tenets of humanity?

* Are there useful lessons and messages in Gandhi's Satyagraha for schooling and education in Ghana?

From my perspective, education confers knowledge and banishes ignorance. Because knowledge is power, education thus confers power. This saying gives practical, existential experience through the Latin adage, Scientia est potestas [knowledge is power] (cited in Ogbunwezeh 2005, n. p.). This adage implies that whoever controls education also controls power. By education, I mean the varied options, strategies, and ways through which people come to learn, know, and understand their world and act within it (Dei, 2000a). Schooling, on the other hand, refers to formal schools, colleges, and universities and their rules and norms.

Although some educational gains were made in Ghana after political independence, Western control over what constitutes valid knowledge became increasingly and worryingly noticeable as schools were structured and restructured to validate only Western knowledge. This knowledge became the cultural capital by which individuals could access employment in both state and private organizations in Ghana. …

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