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"Asibizi": teaching human reproduction in rural Eastern Cape schools

The primary focus of this paper is to explore the possible influence of cultural taboos when teaching human reproduction content knowledge by isiXhosa speaking teachers in rural secondary schools of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Previous studies on Xhosa culture and the teaching of science have focused on the inclusion of indigenous knowledge in the curriculum, citing the need for cultural restoration and heritage. However, little research has focused on the experiences of rural teachers when teaching sexually related content to teenage learners of the same ethnic culture where traditional ways of behaviour are compelling within an ethnic grouping. In this paper, we used semi-structured qualitative questionnaires to explore the views of twenty-nine rural secondary school Life Sciences (Biology) teachers and one Life Sciences Education Specialist on the possibility of cultural taboos in terms of restricting language use when teaching human reproduction. Cultural taboo themes and examples of ‘language conflict’ were generated via thematic analysis of the data. The term ‘language conflict’ is taken from the isiXhosa word ‘asibizi’, which means, ‘we do not talk about this’. The claim that is made is that cultural taboos embedded in cultural beliefs of Xhosaspeaking communities may be regarded as a fifth language issue that restricts the teaching of Life Sciences concepts of a sexual nature in terms of language and lexicon use; namely what teachers are allowed to say and the words that they are allowed to use.
Keywords: Teaching human reproduction, Xhosa cultural taboos, Fifth language, Rural secondary schools, South Africa.

Uploaded by: Ayanda Simayi
Author: Simayi, Ayanda | ORCID: 0000-0002-5592-2745
Co-author: Webb, Paul | ORCID: 0000-0002-4118-8973
Institution: Nelson Mandela University | Centre: East and South African-German Centre for Educational Research, Methodologies and Management (CERM-ESA)
Type: Conference proceeding | English
Subjects: Education

Published: Proceedings of EpisTEME 8: international conference to review research in science, technology and mathematics education, ISBN 9788194156796 | Mumbai: Gaurang Publishing Globalize Pvt. Ltd. on behalf of Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Date: 2020 | Pages: 36-44
Copyright: © Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR | License: ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY SA 3.0) (Under this license, authors retain ownership of the copyright for their content, but allow anyone to download, reuse, reprint, modify, distribute, and/or copy the content as long as the original authors and source are cited. No permission is required from the authors or the publishers)
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