Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

African-Centered Internet Literacy: An Ubuntugogy Metadata Approach

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

African-Centered Internet Literacy: An Ubuntugogy Metadata Approach

Article excerpt


The inspiration for this paper was given birth by a suggestion from the referees of a paper titled "Generating Metadata to Study and Teach about African Issues" in Information Technology and People (2014) Faleh Alshameri and I wrote. We had mentioned and briefly discussed the Ubuntugogy paradigm in that paper, which prompted the referees to suggest that we write another paper dealing with how metadata applications can be utilized to advance the paradigm. This paper is the outgrowth of their suggestion, without Alshameri who did not show much interest in doing so. The paper is divided into three major sections and a conclusion. The first section introduces the subject being examined. The second section entails a summary of the presuppositions and requirements for Ubuntugogy as illustrated in my works on the subject for those readers who may not be familiar with the paradigm. The third section proposes metadata applications to advance the paradigm. The paper is important because as Alshameri and I have demonstrated, the capabilities of generating and collecting data have been increasing rapidly. The computerization of many business and government transactions with the attendant advances in data collection tools has provided huge amounts of data. Millions of databases have been employed in business management, government administration, scientific and engineering management, and many other applications. This explosive growth in data and databases has generated an urgent need for new techniques and tools that can intelligently and automatically transform the processed data into useful information and knowledge. An Ubuntugogy metadata mining approach can therefore prove to be quite useful in advancing African-centered Internet literacy.


As I did in my book titled Toyin Falola and African Epistemologies, (1) I must begin by stating here that the theoretical postulates upon which the discussion in this paper is grounded can be found in my articles titled "Ubuntugogy: An African Educational Paradigm that Transcends Pedagogy, Andragogy, Ergonagy, and Heutagogy" and "Pedagogy and Foreign Language Teaching in the United States: Andragogy to the Rescue." (2) I also must add that the theoretical renderings here are relatively brief; thus, the interested reader can consult the cited book and articles for details.

The immediate question that arises here is the following: What do these paradigms mean? As I have defined them in my writings, Ubuntugogy is "the art and science of teaching and learning undergirded by humanity towards others." (3) Therefore, as I also argued, the salvation of African people hinges upon employing indigenous African educational paradigms that can be subsumed under the rubric of Ubuntugogy, which "transcends Pedagogy (the art and science of teaching), Andragogy (the art and science of helping adults learn), Ergonagy (the art and science of helping people learn to work), and Heutagogy (the study of self-determined learning)." (4)

Thus, my major objective in this paper is to show that there are alternative epistemologies to the Western variety. Data are organized differently; the use of data is subject to an agenda in relation to the definition of society, and people imagine data's future use in various ways. While not dismissing Western knowledge, the paper validates indigenous African ways of thinking. (5)

As I argue in the preceding works, after almost three centuries of employing Western educational approaches, many African societies are still characterized by low literacy rates (based on Western standards), civil conflicts, and underdevelopment. It is obvious that Western educational paradigms, which are not indigenous to African people, have to be questioned. At least two major questions emerge: (1) Why have Western educational systems yielded limited benefits for a large number of African people? (2) Did Western educational systems infiltrate African societies because African people lacked their own? …

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