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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Bjorn Nordveit

Subject Categories

Indigenous Education | International and Comparative Education | Language and Literacy Education


The dissertation explores the discourses of traditional values, local practices, and community engagement within a selected community in Thies, Senegal and its high school environment. The study investigates the ways in which these cultural elements are present in the daily life of the community as well as how they are or could be integrated in formal teaching. In particular, I studied the concepts of Jom (hard work, pride, dignity), Kersa (decency), Suturë (discretion), Muñ (endurance), Teranga (hospitality), Maslaa (negotiation), Kal (kinship), and Suture (Protection) in particular. My own experience as a language teacher who has lived and studied in the United States was also used to complement this critical ethnography study, using a critical auto-ethnography lens. These discourses illustrate power dynamics, controversies, difference in perceptions, and implications regarding these socio-cultural concepts. The study shows that discourses around traditional values describe the positive nature of most of them and the positive effects they have had on Senegalese communities and could have on formal schooling. However, many comments reveal negative perceptions and misuse of some traditional values (particularly Maslaa and Suturë), referred many times as traditional moral principles because of the controversial perceptions. The data findings depict a double-edged nature of the concepts under study. The analysis also reveals that people in the community and at school refer frequently to the aforementioned concepts, the Wolof language, and to some historical figures as embodiments of such values or moral principles. As for presence of values at formal schools, the findings show that there is no formal part of the curriculum on traditional values including moral principles, local practices, or local languages in the middle/high schools in Senegal. However, teachers, students, parents, and school administrators use or refer to traditional values informally, consciously or unconsciously, within the school premises. Therefore, there is an existing Third Space in the community and the school, but it is not explored for more culturally relevant education and to perpetuate positive local values. The investigation also provides interesting findings on the local community’s involvement and reveals that besides the APE members, few parents participate in the school activities.