Monday, April 7, 2008

Presentation tomorrow...

So, again, cutting it very close. I have been mostly hard at work on my presentation for tomorrow morning. I don't really like presentations. At least with papers, I know when I'm done, but with presentations I tend to fret and study and read right up until time to give it even if I'm already pretty well-prepared. It's no fun. But since I still have a bibliography to fine-tune, today's post goal is to stay in the competition. And besides that, people are always asking me what exactly it is I do or study and why it matters. Well, here is your chance to find out. You always wanted to know about Bantu Education in Apartheid, 1948-1968, right? (oh, and my mother just emailed me to remind me to post a blog...thanks mom!).

I bring presentation handout. Let me know if you want my bibliography too for further reading! (how many comments do you think I'll get on this post? I predict 0).

Bantu Education 1948 – 1968

Bantu Education was the expression given to apartheid policy in the field of schooling.

Overview of most important events

• 1949 – 1951: Eiselen Commission
• 1953: Bantu Education Act:
• 1959: Extension of University Education Act
• 1963: Coloured Persons Education Act
• 1965: Indian Education Act
The implementation of the Bantu Education Act started fully in 1955.

Key issues
Eiselen Commission and Report
• Headed by Dr. W.M. Eiselen—trained Linguist and Anthropologist; also influenced by ideals of the Berlin Mission Society. An important thinker for the National Party.
• Enquiry into the “the formulation of the principles and aims of education for Natives as an independent race.” (Horell, p.136).
• Eiselen report interpreted several ways by historians: 1) a pragmatic attempt to deal with current political circumstances by directing Africans to their “own” areas to develop their own cultures, and at their own pace; 2) aimed at overhauling the inefficient Mission-dominated system in place; 3) designing education system to force Africans to supply labor for industry.

Bantu Education Act, 1953
• Extended education to a greater number of of black students
• Restructured education tracks to emphasize trades and technical skills
• Government control over curriculum, tests, etc; more community involvement in school administration

Initial Implications for the Schools:
• Intense financial burdens forced many mission schools to close
• Moved expenditure on black education: costs largely carried by black population
• Inadequate level of material provision and reduced quality (accommodation, material, maintenance, overcrowding classes, lack of teachers, experienced teachers left etc.) – up to 60 children per class, double sessions.
• Problems exacerbated by huge growth in black population

Discussion points
1. How persuasive do you find the various historical interpretations of the goals of Bantu Education? (key historical arguments summarized below)
a.Intended to ease labour demands in industry (Marxist vision)
b.More ideologically, concerned that the mission schools were providing the wrong kind of education for blacks—a sort that was instilling unrealistic expectations (Liberal vision)
c.Primarily concerned with improving efficiency in the schools and in governance

2. What was (or were) underlying reason(s) for closing of the mission schools (e.g. finances, quality, underlying denominational disputes, rise of nationalistic policy, starting spirit of revolution among black students (e.g. 1946 Lovedale).

3. How did the rhetoric of apartheid education line up with its implementation within the political and economic constraints of the time?

4. In other contexts at this same time, mother tongue instruction was seen as the best route to education. (Chinua Achebe, for example, writes acerbically in the 60s and 70s about English being imposed on children in Kenya and criticized the missions for not using mother-tongue instruction.) Why was it seen differently in South Africa?

5. What were the complicated factors of Bantu education for teachers?

6. Are there positive points to mention about Bantu Education (for instance, can you justify it because it extended education to more people?) (e.g. stabilising the educational system)


  1. "3) designing education system to force Africans to supply labor for industry."

    You might be interested to know, if you don't already, that the American educational system has been accused of the same thing, thanks in part to Andrew Carnegie and a bunch of other industrialists who were great shapers of educational policy. Sometimes the line between philanthropy and self-interest is a fuzzy one. That was undoubtedly true in colonial Arica as well.

    If you're up for a long, sometimes rambling, but fascinating read (in your "spare time"), try John Taylor Gatto's The Underground History of American Education.

  2. Well, I think it is at least partly characteristic of the time in which all the educators were themselves taught, that they were educating in a language foreign to the students. I'm glad to know that NTM has been teaching in the language of the people everywhere they went for the last 50 years. But they weren't government backed, and that may be a part of the difference.

    Sounds like an interesting presentation-- I wish I could hear you present it.

    Incidentally, I discovered that if I log into gmail first, and then go to your weblog, I am already recognized-- but if I log in any other way, it rejects me. (I feel so rejected...)


  3. The mother-tongue debate for schools is very interesting when you look at how it was perceived in different areas. In South Africa, africans ("bantu") STRONGLY opposed mother-tongue instruction. Instead, they wanted to be taught in English, which was perceived as the language of opportunity. In Kenya, however, the British had used English almost entirely and there was a huge swell of opposition becuase they neglected the mother tongue. Go figure.

    But, Mother-tongue instruction was being pushed by the Afrikaner National Party largely because of their own history of anti-imperialism and the way they had held onto their own language and culture against the British--it was part of their ideology of each race and/or ethnic group having their own culture to preserve, and the need to keep those cultures distinct by separating politics, biology, education, etc.
    Quite and interesting topic indeed, and it continues to be an issue in South Africa education policy, although I think they are using more dual-medium instruction now, same as the States.

    And to your point, Sursumcorda, South Africa educational policy borrowed a great deal from the states (as well as the Netherlands)and it's true in South Africa there was a history of seeing Blacks as crucial for the labor force. I don't know about the States, but in South Africa's case, I think this was actually a much smaller factor in Bantu Education than Marxist historians make it out to be, though it's certainly one of the issues complicating things.