DST-NRF Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (CIKS)

The Department of Science and Technology-National Research Foundation Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), hereafter known as CIKS, is a virtual centre based on Hub and Spoke model. CIKS is composed of five partner institutions, namely, University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), North-West University (NWU), University of Limpopo (UL), University of South Africa (UNISA) and University of Venda (UNIVEN). The Hub is provided by the UKZN. Its main responsibility is to facilitate institutional collaboration in IKS research and postgraduate training including sharing of existing resources for knowledge production (research) and capacity building through network and partnerships.

The IKS policy of 2004 identified the establishment of Centres of Excellence as strategic instruments in knowledge generation and human capital development in the field of IKS. Initially, the DST initiated a bottom-up approach of establishing a Centre of Excellence in IKS by identifying the NWU, UL and UNIVEN owing to the experience with research, teaching and community engagement in the field of IKS. The DST working with the NRF initiated a formal process of establishing a Centre of Excellence that involved a submission of a proposal by the three institutions and an independent evaluation process under the auspices of the NRF. The independent panel of experts advised that the number of institutions to constitute a Centre of Excellence be expanded to include UNISA and UKZN as associate members. It is this process that culminated in the selection of UKZN as the Hub for CIKS.

The composition of these partner institutions was based on their existing capacities. The IKS research and postgraduate training capacity at UKZN will be utilized to empower and facilitate collaboration with other partner institutions within and outside South Africa to meet the research and postgraduate training challenges of IKS as a new field in research, teaching, knowledge brokerage and community engagement. The NWU has been a champion in IKS curriculum development since 2001; the UL and UNIVEN have a rich bio-diversity, traditional medicine and African IKS-based rural communities; and UNISA has a DST-NRF Chair in Development Education which has championed IKS research and post-graduate training. IKS related activities in these partner institutions provide an important base for the promotion of IKS research and human capital development in the following focus areas: curriculum studies and development with (an emphasis on emerging quest for Non-western paradigms); food security, traditional medicine; bio-diversity and environment management. This is in line with the aspirations of the South African National IKS Policy (2004) which has identified the promotion of IKS in higher education as a key component of human capital and social transformation.

The National IKS Policy emphasizes that the promotion of IKS in the higher educational system as Universities, will serve as a facilitating and enabling mechanism, for broad participation and collaboration of local communities. The educational institutions will focus their activities on developing, preserving and using the knowledge of local communities as basis for sustainable community livelihood and development.

Moreover, the holistic nature of IKS is recognized by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency as an important strategy for tackling the challenges of sustainable development in Africa. African communities have a wealth of IKS developed over centuries for sustainable livelihood. They manifest themselves in different fields which include climate change adaptation, natural resource management, food security, health, education, architecture, language, conflict transformation, governance, etc.
African Indigenous ways of knowing have been marginalized and projected as inferior in the search for sustainable solutions to developmental challenges over the years. However, there is currently an increasing realization within and outside Africa, especially among policy makers, researchers, academics, development agencies and civic society that a country’s ability to build on and mobilize the knowledge systems available among its people for socio-economic development is as essential as the availability of physical and financial resources. Learning from what local communities already know creates an understanding of local conditions and provides an important context for activities designed to support them. The challenge is for these indigenous ways of knowing and knowledge production to be critically assessed and re-appropriated for sustainable development and livelihood.
As a Centre in IKS, the partner institutions will endeavour to study how South Africa and Africa at large can enter the global knowledge system on their own terms. CIKS will work within and across knowledge domains through the applied spectrum and with product-related outcomes. Moreover, the embedment of IKS research and human capital development in its work will enable CIKS to contribute to wealth generation through IKS based research and innovation and assist the National IKS Office (NIKSO) to attain its mandate of interfacing IKS with other knowledge systems.
Through its multi- and trans-disciplinary focus areas, including collaboration with IK holders and practitioners, CIKS shall, contribute to the enhancement of NIKSO landscape activities. These include the IKS Provincial Nodes, the National Recordal System, IKS Chairs, Accreditation and Certification of IK holders and practitioners, bio-prospecting and product development and Intellectual Property among others.
Vision and Mission of the DST-NRF Centre in IKS

To be a world rallying hub for IKS research, postgraduate training, networking, knowledge brokerage and community engagement through recognition, development, protection and affirmation of Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Africa for improved quality of life.
Scope of the DST-NRF Centre in IKS

The Centre is multi-inter-and trans-disciplinary in terms of research, teaching, learning knowledge brokerage networking and community engagement. The focus areas being IKS curriculum studies and development with an emphasis on emerging quest for Non-Eurocentric paradigms; food security, traditional medicine; bio-diversity and environment management.
Key activities and services

Research: The DST-NRF Centre in IKS research programmes in collaboration with other stakeholders such as IK holders and practitioners vigorously explore new ways of knowing and knowledge production to further the development and promotion of IKS for sustainable development and community livelihood.

Education and Training: Human capital development focuses on support for Honours, Masters, Doctoral students, Post-doctoral Fellows. The CIKS puts supervision of black and female postgraduate students forward to address racial and gender imbalances.

Information Brokerage: The DST-NRF Centre in IKS through its Hub and partner institutions provides access to a pool of IKS through maintaining data bases, promoting knowledge training and knowledge transfer through publications, conferences, symposia, workshops, seminar, etc. whose proceedings will be published in an accredited Journal as part of Knowledge sharing and transfer. CIKS shall use existing accredited SAPSE Journals that advance the interests of IKS while developing strategies and capacities to have its own accredited IKS Journal.

Networking: The DST-NRF Centre in IKS collaborates with reputable IKS individuals, groups and institutions within and outside South Africa to develop, promote and affirm IKS for improved quality of life. To enhance research capacity, CIKS conducts regular workshops and seminars for postgraduate students, researchers, IK holders and practitioners to enhance networking.

Service Rendering: Building on the existing diverse community engagement activities and networks of the partner institutions and IK holders and practitioners, CIKS provides and analyzes strategic IKS information necessary for sustainable and policy development, as well as other services including informed and reliable advice a pool of IKS information and knowledge to local communities, national governments, educational institutions, and the public at large.

Gender and transformation strategies: Although the research focus areas are considered gender neutral, every effort is made to ensure that the postgraduate students and supervision represents the demographics of South Africa and achieve the following targets: 80% previously disadvantaged groups, 50% women and youth; and 4% people with disabilities.
CIKS Advisory Committee/Council members
 1 Prof. U. Bob
Research Dean, University of Kwazulu-Natal 
 2 Prof. E. Ebenso
Executive Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Science and Technology (FAST), North-West University
 3 Prof. G.I. Ekosse
Director of Research, University of Venda
 4 Prof. G.M. Nkondo
Advisor, National Heritage Panel of Expert
 5 Dr. N.P. Makgalemele
Deputy Director General, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, South African Government 
 6 Prof. O. Mwandamele
Pro- Vice Chancellor (academic Affairs and Research), University of Namibia
 7 Prof. M.M. Sibara
Deputy Vice Chancellor Research, University of Limpopo
 8 Prof. L. J. Teffo
Director, Institute for African Renaissance, University of South Africa
CIKS Steering / Scientific Committee Members
 1 Prof. H.O. Kaya
Director, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Indigenous Knowledge System, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Dr. S.A. Dseagu 
IKS Coordinator, University of Limpopo
Prof V.O Netshandama 
Director, Community Engagement, University of Venda
Prof S.A. Materechera
Director, Centre in Indigenous Knowledge System, North-West University
Prof. S.J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni 
Head, Archie Mafeje Research Institute, University of South Africa
CIKS Alternate Steering / Scientific Committee Members
 1 Prof S. Mukaratirwa
Dean and Head of School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Dr. M.P. Tshisikhawe
Department of Botany, University of Venda
Prof. C.A. Odora-Hoppers  
DST-NRF Chair in Development Education, University of South Africa
Prof. T.M. Khomo
Director, School of Economics and Management, Faculty of Management and Law, University of Limpopo
Prof. P.F. Iya
Centre in Indigenous Knowledge System, North-West University