“I am because we are" : Ubuntu in Inclusive Ghanaian Higher Education

Sarah Tara SAM

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsConference Paper (other)Other Conference Paper


Ubuntu philosophy is a transgenerational cultural indigenous perspective of black Sub-Saharan African (SSA) communities. Ghanaian equivalent is ‘Wo yonko da ne wo da’ i.e., what happens to one happens to you/all. The paper's
title summarises Ubuntu’s tenets of interdependence, interconnected collective and relational human existence; value for cordial communal interactions for individual development. It emphasizes our need for other humans to be human
through learning most human capabilities from others, thereby highlighting communality over individuality but recognising both as interdependent and mutually sustaining co-originators rather than downplaying the latter. The afore-mentioned tenets render Ubuntu consistent with inclusive education (IE) and helpful for theorising disability inclusion in HE, as this paper shows from a qualitative study of the support conceptualisations and experiences of thirty students with disabilities (SWDs) in three Ghanaian public universities. Disability is often conceptualised through Western theories which are not fully representative of such contexts although applicable to an extent, thereby translating into inclusive HE policy and practice failing to fully account for the Global South including SSA. The study finds that global Westernised disability theories although useful for inclusive HE, should not result in disavowing Ubuntu philosophy which is useful for its emphasis on interdependence, a necessary tenet for advancing IE but often overlooked in HE policy and practice. The study recommends the fusion of indigenous Ubuntu philosophy with rightbased theories rather than the holistic adoption of the latter; and educational policies that utilise bottom-up approaches based on findings that they foster diversity and IE through interactions that transcend formal lecture room interaction with students with disabilities at the forefront as educators. Changing such formal status quo can help address the inequality challenges in HE. Hence, a decolonial inclusive approach to HE is proposed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022
EventPostgraduate Conference on Interdisciplinary Learning : Rethinking Postgraduate Studies in Post-Pandemic Societies - Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Duration: 1 Apr 20222 Apr 2022


ConferencePostgraduate Conference on Interdisciplinary Learning : Rethinking Postgraduate Studies in Post-Pandemic Societies
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of '“I am because we are" : Ubuntu in Inclusive Ghanaian Higher Education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this