"Trustees and agents of the state?": Missions and post-union policy formation towards African education 1910-1920

Krige, Sue
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During the first decade after Union, African education was the subject of syllabus reform initiatives in three out of the four provinces. The control of African education was also an issue which was debated as part of these reform initiatives, and was touched on by commissions of enquiry into the provincial system as a whole. It is the task of this paper to analyse the nature of policy making and reform regarding African education in the first decade after union, and to focus on the role of the missions in this process. It argues that the process of syllabus reform in the Transvaal, Natal and the Cape was informed by a general need to respond to critiques of existing education, but that there are important regional imperatives which fashioned each province's particular rationale and content adaptations. It indicates that the reforms cannot be seen as directed at the African working class in order to meet the needs of capital. Instead it argues that much of the "education makes better workers" type of justification for change, and the content change itself was really rhetoric designed to allay white hostility. The target of the reforms was the educated African elite, whose ambitions needed to be shaped in a direction which did not challenge the existing social order. However, only the Cape reforms appear to have moved beyond rhetoric in providing a concrete syllabus for agricultural education for an elite modernising peasantry and ancillary administrative staff. In this sense, to some extent the reforms were compatible with emerging segregationist ideas and policies. However, it is far fetched to link the reforms with any grand design of Native policy or with the "needs of capital". ...This paper stems from a dissatisfaction with the existing literature's failure to grasp the complexities of the relationship between church, state, education policy and the broader political economy in the early years after Union. In doing so, it addresses a number of problematic areas in the literature of this period. … This paper ends in 1920, a year which marks the first real attempt to consider African education from a national viewpoint. This came with the establishment of the Native Affairs Commission in 1920.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented 26 April 1993
Missions. Educational work. South Africa, Education. Africa. History. 20th century, Education and state. Africa. History. 20th century, Missions. Africa. History. 20th century, Church and education. Africa. History. 20th century