The Contribution of the Bedouin Indigenous Knowledge to an Environmental Education Programme in the St Katherine Protectorate, South Sinai, Arab Republic of Egypt

University of London, United Kingdom

Supervisor: Professor Michael Reiss

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Indigenous knowledge has increasingly been recognised as being of value for contemporary education, having previously been widely seen as primitive and resistant to change. The last three decades have witnessed a series of events organised by the United Nations which have recognised aspects of indigenous knowledge as being of considerable relevance to modern education. This recognition has arisen at the same time as debates on the concept of sustainable development.

This research sets out to design, implement and evaluate an environmental education programme that benefits from Bedouin indigenous knowledge in the protected areas of South Sinai, Egypt. It draws on Habermas’ Communicative Action theory and employs action research. Communicative Action theory aims at changing and transforming society as a whole; action research can enable people to reflect on their own practices and change their situation in a way that suits their culture. The research devises and employs a new framework for its implementation and analysis: Critical Participatory Educational Action Research (CPEAR).

The research was implemented through three CPEAR cycles following a pre-cycle. It uses ethnographic methods, particularly un-structured interviews, focus group discussions and participant observation. The analysis drew on principles of grounded theory by looking at the main themes in the data that directed the implementation of CPEAR. Overall, the study concludes, first, that at this stage the programme should be implemented in an out-of-school context, in part due to widespread lack of understanding of Bedouin indigenous knowledge; secondly, that Bedouins are willing to protect the environment as well as other aspects of indigenous knowledge since these support their social and economic welfare; and, thirdly, that using indigenous knowledge, and in particular traditional conservation knowledge in an environmental education programme, can serve to empower children and adults from a range of backgrounds.


Dr Yousria Hamed Abdel Rahman
PhD on Science Education
Institute of Education- University of London
Manager of Support to Egypt Protected Areas Project SEPA
United Nations Development Programme UNDP
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