Ubuntu: Applying a Southern Theoretical Paradigm to Counter Youth Radicalization

In: Bandung
Ratna GhoshDistinguished James McGill Professor and William C. Macdonald Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

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As societal and community institutions, schools operate within certain worldviews. These worldviews impact the aims and objectives of schooling and therefore influence the culture of the school and classroom, not to mention the content of the curriculum and teacher practices. In this paper I consider the “traditional” African worldview of Ubuntu as a framework or a foundation for schooling and education to combat the alienation and discrimination faced by many students in the schools in Western countries which are pushing neo-liberal objectives but that lead them to violence and increasingly, to radicalization. I look at the recent phenomenon of radicalization that makes societies and nations unsafe, and some of the push and pull factors that are increasingly attracting some students in the contemporary world to extremist actions. While the threat of Islamic terrorism seems to have subsided, the threats from extreme right-wing nationalist and alt-right groups is increasing at a fast pace (; ; ; ). I contrast the concept of Ubuntu with Western values of humanism and analyze the core values of the Ubuntu worldview in pedagogical practices. I conclude that present punitive measures are ineffective in preventing radicalization which poses a security threat to all nations, but that schooling has an important role to play in combating this phenomenon through a worldview that is not only humanistic but different in its very understanding of what a human being is and therefore, in preventing schools from alienating individuals and groups.

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