- About NIKSO
- NRS Project Background
- IKS Strategies
- IKS Related Programmes at DST
- Knowledge Systems
- IKS Resources
- IKS Centres
- IKS EXPO
- Intellectual Property
- SADC IKS News
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Background and Mandate
A multitude of voices and forums are converging to form a new perspective on our knowledge economy most of which belongs to local and indigenous communities silenced by the impact of colonialism and apartheid. In 2004 the South African Government articulated a vision in restoring the inherent dignity of these voices by adopting the Indigenous knowledge Systems (IKS) Policy that seeks to recognise, promote, protect and develop IKS on its very own terms.
There is no denying that the knowledge of individuals and the collective knowledge of communities are the only competitive advantages that any country can rely upon to develop. The challenge for government and civil society is to bring about synergy in terms of indigenous and western knowledge and other knowledge systems, so that knowledge generation and utilization benefits all segments of our society.
Policy mandate for DST
NIKSO was recently established to nurture national IKS priorities through proactive engagement in the field of science and technology. Through an interdisciplinary and multidimensional approach, the activities of NIKSO are aimed at opening new vistas for academic, practices for greater scientific understanding, promotion, protection through intellectual property rights of communities, recognition, affirmation and development of IKS that will ensure fair and equitable benefit sharing of IK resources to indigenous communities both in the short and long term.
These initiatives aims at fostering better understanding of the interface of IKS with culture and science, culture and technology in a manner that gives recognition to traditional customs and practices. In essence, it will provide the bedrock for the generation of new knowledge and new consciousness.
The mandate of NIKSO
To promote and achieve national objectives subsumed in the IKS Policy and the various DST research and development strategy. NIKSO functions as a Sub- Programme with the following directorates:
1. Advocacy and Policy Development;
2. Knowledge Development and;
3. Knowledge Management.
ADVOCACY AND POLICY DEVELOPMENT (APD)
Advocacy and Policy Development Directorate main focus is on the development of IKS legislation and policy both at national and on regional levels. The mobilization and management of a variety of stakeholders is also vital to the directorate's functions while the IKS policy provides the collaboration between all stakeholders from government departments, science councils, tertiary institutions NGOs, and knowledge holders, and also in collaboration with other parts of Africa.The following are the key strategic objective of APD:
- Development of IKS legislation and policy
- Promote Institutional collaboration
- Leveraging funding
- Advocacy on all directorates outputs
The directorate participates at international structures dealing with Intellectual Property e.g. at the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The IGC looks at the protection of Intellectual Property (IP) as it relates to Traditional/Indigenous Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions and protection of Genetic Resources. The IKS Policy was tabled as a working document at the 9th IGC session of WIPO and has being translated into French, Russian, Chinese and Spanish. It has also been translated into South African Indigenous languages.
As it is the responsibility of NIKSO to interface IKS with other knowledge systems, one of the advocacy strategies is for NIKSO to actively participate in the National Science Week managed by Youth and Science Unit of DST with the primary aim of integrating IKS within the national system of innovation. This directorate has also set up mechanisms including the annual IKS EXPO and Workshop to embark on a national campaign on public understanding and awareness of Indigenous Knowledge Systems.
APD through Institutional collaboration is responsible for the coordination of the interdepartmental committee on IKS. NIKSO established the Advisory Committee which provide advice and direction on matters relating to IKS to the Minister of Science and Technology. Other structures that promote collaboration for NIKSO includes Science Councils, Committees and provincial nodes linked to IKS Centres. Advocacy and Policy Development is responsible for mobilising CBO's and NGO's in IKS fields.
KNOWLEDGE DEVELOPMENT (KD)
The Knowledge Development Directorate provides strategic leadership in the field of research and development on indigenous Knowledge Systems [IKS]. The Directorate operates within the National Systems of Innovation [NSI] of the Department of Science and Technology. It is guided by the national priorities such as HIV/AIDS, poverty, skills development and quality of life. Therefore the objectives of Knowledge development are as follows:
- Facilitation of the positioning of IKS within the NSI
- Coordination of IKS Research Agenda
- Establishment of IKS Chairs
- Establishment of IKS Centres of Excellence
- Establishment of IKS Laboratories
- Bio prospecting and product development programmes
National research agendas in collaboration with knowledge holders and practitioners, researchers, leaders, government department, science councils and academic institutions have been completed. It is in the mission of this Directorate that publicly funded research be translated to policy and action for sustainable development and improved quality of life in South Africa.
The Directorate is in the process of establishing the Research Management Agency (RMA) as an entity to manage research funding and allocation in the country. The RMA will also coordinate all research activities with various stakeholders. The main research themes range from affirming African values and culture, traditional medicines, indigenous technologies, food security and agriculture, arts and craft, new epistemology, science of soul/spirit and human origins, and African Cosmology and cosmogony, amongst the many fields of knowledge development.
Interfacing IKS with other knowledge systems as well as its integration and mainstreaming provides an opportunity for further development of new technological and scientific innovations for wealth creation. This is achieved through the establishment of IKS Laboratories, Centres of Excellence, and Chairs, supporting both basic and applied research on IKS and through the Bio prospecting and product development platform.
The Knowledge Development Directorate is in the process of establishing IKS laboratories working on African traditional medicines, food supplements, jewellery and cosmetics and IKS Centres of Excellence, the first being on Curriculum Development. This means towards interfacing IKS within various fields of knowledge in academia, though the concept itself is cross-cutting and includes science councils, public entities, and community stakeholders.
Another initiative is the establishment of IKS Chairs, which are based within higher education institutions. Proposed chairs are established based on national priorities such as traditional medicines, indigenous knowledge studies and indigenous food security. The objective of IKS Chairs is to increase human capital, research and skills in IKS in various academic fields.
KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT (KM)
Knowledge Management within NIKSO is intended to provide a better understanding of the nature of community knowledge ordering and management as applied and conceptualised from an indigenous knowledge perspective. The Knowledge Management Directorate main focus is to provide infrastructure, the capacity, the facilitation and the expertise for an effective knowledge management and development of cutting edge creative solutions in advancing IK and IKS in an ever changing knowledge, economic, ICT and socio- cultural environment. The key objectives of the Knowledge Management directorate are:
- Development and implementation of an IKS knowledge management policy
- Development of an IKS databank
- Development of a monitoring and evaluation strategy on IKS
- Development and maintenance of databases
- Development of IKS recordable systems
- Registration, knowledge codification and certification of IK holders and practitioners
- Protection and promotion of IK and IKS and;
- Knowledge sharing and dissemination of IKS.
In its quest to do so, one of the key activities of this directorate is to give attention to the intellectual and ICT infrastructure, capacity, facilitation, management and integration IKS and related databases into a national accessible open source platform. The Directorate completed a database review and set up communities of practice for deployment of IKS portals in Digital Doorways in North West, KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga Provinces. The directorate continue to create databases and maintain them for the benefit of various departments and local communities in the advent of bio prospecting and knowledge economy. The national recordal system which is envisaged by NIKSO and driven by this directorate in the near future will give communities, IK holder/practitioners opportunity to record, manage and share their knowledge to secure future economic benefit based on Indigenous Knowledge.
The creation of databases will serve a wider purpose in providing and enhancing innovative capacity relating to trade marks, patents, copyrights geographical indicators as part of implementing intellectual property regimes. The establishment of databases will strive to address some of the issues related to the Intellectual Property of indigenous practices and technologies. There is a crucial need to document them to prevent IK that is already in the public domain from being patented as a new invention in another country hence the need to create search engines and sites to defend local innovations.
This directorate is also responsible for implementing recording measures through IKS Centres which will focus their activities on preserving and using local knowledge within the borders of South Africa. The first pilot IKS documentation Centre is established in KwaZulu-Natal Province with other models aimed at addressing bio diversity, taxonomy and totemic.
Through the monitoring and evaluation plan, various IKS projects will measure up to social and economic impact. The value-add of IKS will be significant in the DST towards the knowledge economy strategy. The registration, codification and certification of knowledge holders are another key strategic objective for this directorate. This directorate will develop and implement a databank of holders and practitioners as an active archive of intellectual capacity; which will be placed in a recordal system that supports benefit sharing among local communities. Such a knowledge archive will be a significant contribution to the knowledge economy, recognition of IK in the post-modern knowledge production and reference sources.