The origins and demise of bantu school boards and school committees in the urban areas: with particular reference to Soweto 1953 - 1979

Tsotetsi, Josiah Oupa Khehla
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This dissertation is an effort in educational history, which attempts to recover and reconstruct the history of School Boards and School Committees in the urban areas with a view to assessing both their origin and impact on Soweto schooling during the period 1953 - 1979. Many scholars might have been able to account for the history of Bantu Education, its significance and its impact on African people in the townships. However the history of the School Boards have been sidelined for long and completely hidden from historical and institutional discourse. Whereas very little has been written about the structures of school governance, which for three decades shaped and influenced the education of urban African people (except an isolated case by Mkhize {1989}who researched the origin of School Boards in the Vosloorus Township of the East Rand), none have tried to account for the Soweto School Boards and School Committees, yet the name itself is known throughout the world as a symbol of the heroic struggle of its people against the apartheid system, including its schooling. This research argues that the history of African townships regarding education, cannot be understood outside the framework of Soweto itself and certainly not with regards the history of Soweto School Boards. It is therefore endeavoured, within this dissertation, to put on the agenda of academic discourse and investigation, the otherwise marginalised structure of school governance of one of the largest African townships in South Africa. The beginning chapter examines the process o f formulation and implementation of the Nationalist Party education policy towards the African people in Soweto and elsewhere, with a view to establishing how this contributed towards the creation of School Boards and School Committees, This brings to the fore a view that, whereas the Eiselen Commission of 1949-1951 and the Bantu Education Act of 1953 might have served as the foundation of the ‘Bantu’ School Board system, the Tomlinson Commission of 1955 sought to functionalise these institutions within the broad framework of the policy of ‘separate development’. Part of this research work attempts to show the advocacy and support the School Board system had, especially in its early years and points to ethnic, religious and cultural justifications which emerged from a diverse spectrum of opinion within the African Community of Soweto itself The investigation does not sideline the actions carried out by members o f School Boards - especially against teachers - but attempts to evidence the achievements and help provided by rhese bodies to teachers and pupils; often at the risk of confrontation with the DBE. Further examination shows that there was a link between criticism and reservation the Soweto teachers and pupils had against the School Boards and School Committees and their resistance of Bantu Education as a whole. Despite the School Boards’ attempts to caoitalise on the controversial ‘Medium of Instruction’ issue against the DBE and its attempts to gain the confidence, and sympathy, of the Soweto people, their demise was finally, through the Education and Training Act of 1979, ensured and consigned to history.