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Education During The Period 1860 1910 History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

During this period the face and path of South Africa were forever changed by the discovery of rich mineral deposits in the interior. The subsequent scramble for control of these riches led to the total subjugation of the indigenous people, the confiscation of land, and the laying of the foundation of segregation of the races.

By 1860 the Cape Colony is under British control and Natal is an autonomous district of the Cape colony. The Great Trek has reached the Transvaal and the Free State areas and the South African Republic and the Orange Free State Republic have been established under the Boers.

In order to accomplish this, many wars against black tribes have been fought. Many Blacks have been dispossessed of their land and forced into labour as skilled and unskilled labourers to work in public and private enterprise in the Cape through the imposition of “hut” and other taxes.

Schooling is in its infancy, with most of the education in the hands of the church. In the Cape, schooling is not compulsory and its aim is to Anglicise, in order to control. There are a number of Private schools, State schools and State aided schools in the Cape, with an established Department of Education and some funding for primary school education. Parents pay for secondary school education.

In the Boer republics the trekker children are mostly home schooled. There are some itinerant teachers, not always qualified, who move around in localised areas. Education is not compulsory and has to be paid for. Some schools are set up in country towns, but the teaching and the facilities are poor. There is a heavy emphasis on religious content.

In general, schooling is drawn around economic lines, as the rich could afford better private schooling and pay for secondary school, and Colour lines, with mostly separate education. Blacks are educated mostly by mission schools with an emphasis on religion and practical skills to be used in labour.

With the discovery of minerals (1866 Diamonds; 1884 Gold) more labour is required on a massive scale and can only be provided by Blacks who become the designated working class. They are the unskilled ‘muscle’ that the mines need. In order to draw them away from the land hut and other taxes are more stringently applied. Pass laws and the migrant labour system control their movements and they are left with little bargaining power.

For tasks demanding more skill, the first skilled workers are brought in from overseas. They have more bargaining power and are unionised, demanding higher wages.

The elite of the time are the mining magnates set up by mining companies, who become extremely wealthy and are mostly European. This sets up social and economic disparities along colour lines.

The rapid growth of urban areas around the “diggings” and such coastal commercial centres as Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London lead to the extension of the local infrastructure as well. No longer is South Africa just a rural society, rapid urbanisation is also taking place.

During the 1860’s Education under British rule is still divided along colour and economic lines. In 1865 Education Act No. 13 is passed, formalising the system of state subsidies for private schools. State funding is divided into three school categories: public, mission and ‘native’. A mere 2 827 Black students are enrolled in State schools and most are educated at mission schools where religion and needed skills dominate the curriculum.

In 1873 a scheme of fixed standards of attainment up to Std 4 is set which forces many Mission Schools to change to comply with the standard. The University of the Cape of Good Hope is established which sets Standards and syllabuses, and introduces the School Elementary Examination, the School Higher Examination and the Matriculation Examination and confers degrees. New legislation gives state subsidy to qualifying colleges in the Cape and Natal allowing the expansion of higher education.

In 1877 the South African Republic (Transvaal) is annexed by Britain and the British education system is expanded. Funding by the Government continues to be skewed towards the “White” schools, where English is the medium of instruction. Some 60 percent of school-age children in Natal are enrolled in formal schools, 49 percent in the Cape Colony. In the Afrikaner republics, enrolments remain low-only 12 percent in the Orange Free State and 8 percent in the Transvaal. (There is growing resentment among the Afrikaners against British education and “Die Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners” is established in Paarl to promote Afrikaans as a people’s language.)

During the 1880’s many of the Blacks educated at the mission schools rejected their societal tenets, including the chiefs, political institutions, beliefs and culture. They became more capitalistic, rejecting the traditional Black economy based on community ownership and sharing. They live on mission stations or own small plots of land. They adopted a more Eurocentric life-style, dressing in European-style clothes and going to church on Sundays. They commercialise their farming, and sell their produce on the colonial market.

An increasing numbers of these “converted” Blacks qualify for the vote in the Cape Colony. By 1880, Black voters control 17 seats in the Cape Parliament, enough to hold the balance of power. This kind of leverage, minimal though it was, begins to mobilise black opinion and we see the first black political party, the Imbumba yamaNyama, founded in Port Elizabeth in 1882

In reaction to British domination the Afrikander Bond is formed in the Cape. It aims to advance Afrikaner interests from the Cape to the Limpopo River.

The First Anglo-Boer War takes place between 16 December 1880 and 23 March 1881 in which Britain is defeated and the Boers regain control of the South African Republic (ZAR). The Pedi (northern Sotho) state, which fell within the republic’s borders, is subjugated.

Though there is a heightened demand for Education the state subsidised only white schools.  Mixed schools received some subsidy only if the majority of pupils were white. The depression reduces the amount of money available for the fulfilment of Proclamation No. 113 of 1882 which promises grants for the erection of school buildings, furniture, books and stationery with the state contributing on a pound-for-pound basis. Teachers and parents react in fury because the Education Department has again failed to deliver on its promises.

The discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand rang in a new era in the development of South Africa and the further disenfranchisement of all “non-whites”.

Mission schooling is still the most viable option for Black students on the Witwatersrand. By 1886 missionaries had established seven private schools in the Johannesburg area for Coloureds with no subsidy from the state.  Four mixed schools attended by whites as well were also in existence. These schools only receive a subsidy if the number of white pupils is higher than those of “coloured” pupils.

In the Cape the disenfranchisement of Blacks is written into the statute books with proclamations such as:

The Parliamentary Registration Act of 1887 – excluding from the vote all those who held land on communal tenure

The Franchise and Ballot Act of 1892 – restricted the franchise by raising the property qualifications from £25 to £75 and including an education test.

The Glen Grey Act of 1894 – local councils for the governing of Africans in Reserves and the restriction of land ownership.

The door to equality was being firmly shut.

The marginalisation of Black schooling becomes more entrenched as it becomes a separate responsibility within the Council of Education and mostly the responsibility of the mission schools. Black enrolment in government schools is virtually abolished and Government gives new and clear directives to the mission schools regarding the education of the Black child. Subsidized missionary institutions provide industrial training as well as elementary education, with an emphasis on manual instruction foremost and also religious and moral instruction.

In 1893 The Council of Education is abolished and a sub-department of ‘Native Education’ is established under the Superintendent of Education.

Schools for White pupils, on the other hand, ceased to be under church control and came wholly under Government control. Std 6 is declared the end of the primary school course. Those who pass, receive a Public Schools Certificate. The School Elementary Certificate is written after Std 7.

A university system is proposed that will endeavour to bring White English and Afrikaans speaking communities together in South Africa.

White domination is expanded when two bills are passed in 1995 and 1994 restricting the freedom of Indians. According to the Immigration Law Amendment Bill all Indians are to return to India at the end of a five-year indenture period, or be re-indentured for a further two years. If they refuse, an annual tax has to be paid. The Franchise Amendment Bill limits the franchise to Indians who already had the vote.

The potential value of mineral extraction now makes direct British colonial control over the interior an attractive option and the demand for franchise rights for English-speaking immigrants working on the new goldfields provides the pretext Britain needs to go to war with the Transvaal and Orange Free State in 1899.

During the war the British’s “scorched Earth” policy lands thousands of Boer women and children in concentration camps. Education as a means of inculcating the values of the British Empire into Britain’s future subjects is prioritised. Teachers are recruited from England, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.Night classes for adults include lectures on the British Empire and more practical subjects such as cooking, needlework, kindergarten work and art are also taught.

The British have separate camps for Blacks, but here the priority is different, namely to make them work, growing crops for the troops, digging trenches, driving wagons or working as miners in the gold mines.

Following the British victory thousands of teachers are brought from Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to teach English language and instil British cultural values, especially in the two former Afrikaner republics.

In reaction, a group of Afrikaner churches puts forward Christian National Education to serve as the core of the school curriculum. The government initially refuses to fund schools adopting this program which is later accepted as local control is given to the provinces under British rule. The post-war systems left Black, Coloured, Chinese and Indian people completely marginalised and separate education of the races is formalised. In theory the schools are supposed to be the same, but in practice conditions were inferior at Coloured schools. All four provincial governments used government funds primarily to educate Whites.

The defeat of the Boer republics and the formation of Union in 1910 mark the beginning of a new phase of control in the history of the country. Boer and British begin to work together. Total segregation and disenfranchisement, control of land rights, curtailment of movement and insidious subjugation through manipulation of syllabus and allocation of funding and provisioning of basic education ensures a period of “white” control.

However the seeds of redress are sown and we see the formation of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1912…

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