Linguistic and cultural rights in STEAM education: Science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics

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Contribution to a Book

Publication Title

The Palgrave Handbook of African Education and Indigenous Knowledge


Jamaine M. Abidogun, Toyin Falola



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The premise for this chapter is that the integration of African languages into the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects is an imperative and will make education more accessible and creative at all levels. This chapter provides tools and strategies for organizing and managing interdisciplinary learning and teaching based on successful collaborations between applied linguists, human rights advocates, STEM researchers, practitioners, and artists in the fields of Arts and STEM subjects, which creates the acronym STEAM. Through a literature review and collaborative works, this chapter will address how the learning of STEM can be improved through acknowledgment of local languages and cultural context by inserting an “A” for Arts in STEM. This will be demonstrated with cases from Africa with a focus on Tanzania, Nigeria, and Malawi. Based on contributions from educators, scientists, scholars, linguists, and artists from these countries and around the world, this chapter will highlight how we can demonstrate teamwork and collaboration for innovation and creativity in the field of STEAM subjects in classrooms and beyond. Drawing language and cultural perspectives into educational models can make Science and Mathematics learning more accessible. For example, recognizing the cultural and historical evidence on the relevance of ethno-mathematical principles is important in establishing an egalitarian connection to STEAM subjects. This can best be accomplished through a model, which accommodates language and Arts as means to demystify Science and Mathematics and to bridge the separation of Mathematics from the contexts of everyday experience. Education should be viewed as the Art of dealing with cultural encounters. This chapter reflects on the core of human rights education using local languages and local knowledge through the Arts as a tool for teaching human rights in school, bringing to light questions on diversity, environmental issues, as well as power relations between non-dominant (minority) and dominant (majority) segments of the society based on a renewed pedagogy. This chapter will be based on cutting-edge research and elaborates on how to approach novel methodologies in the production of curriculum for Linguistic and Cultural Rights through STEAM education. I conclude that for better learning in the twenty-first-century literacies, implementing local languages and local knowledge in education, integrating approaches from the Arts, will improve the learning and teaching of STEM subjects. STEAM should be given the status of a right in education for multilingual, multicultural, and sustainable development in Africa.


Africa local languages, African language education, African languages, Indigenous knowledge, Linguistic and cultural rights curriculum, Linguistic rights in education, Local knowledge, Multicultural education, STEAM, STEM, Sustainable development


English and Comparative Literature