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Empire and Education in Africa

The Shaping of a Comparative Perspective


Edited By Peter Kallaway and Rebecca Swartz

Empire and Education in Africa brings together a rich body of scholarship on the history of education in colonial Africa. It provides a unique contribution to the historiography of education in different African countries and a useful point of entry for scholars new to the field of African colonial education. The collection includes case studies from South Africa, Ethiopia, Madagascar, French West Africa (Afrique Occidentale Française) and Tanzania (then Tanganyika). It will therefore prove invaluable for scholars in the histories of French, British and German colonialism in Africa. The book examines similarities and differences in approaches to education across a broad geographical and chronological framework, with chapters focusing on the period between 1830 and 1950. The chapters highlight some central concerns in writing histories of education that transcend geographic or imperial boundaries. The text addresses the relationship between voluntary societies’ role in education provision and state education. The book also deals with ‘adapted’ education: what kind of education was appropriate to African people or African contexts, and how did this differ across and between colonial contexts? Finally, many of the chapters deal with issues of gender in colonial education, showing how issues of gender were central to education provision in Africa.
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Chapter Two: Industrial Education in Natal: The British Imperial Context, 1830–1860


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Industrial Education IN Natal

The British Imperial Context, 1830–1860


Natal passed its first legislation specifically for African education in 1856. Ordinance 2 of 1856 set aside £2,000 for the education of ‘coloured youth’ in Natal. At the time, Acting Lieutenant-Governor Henry Cooper argued that education was the ‘duty which the Government may most usefully and properly undertake’.1 Cooper and his Legislative Council decided that grants would be administered to missionaries already working in Natal, to help with their educational functions.2 The Ordinance attracted attention in the Natal media and for the first time, the education of Natal’s large African population became an official government responsibility. One newspaper article considered the Ordinance, saying:

There still remains to be discussed, the fundamental questions—Is education a part of Government’s duty? Or—May it be so under peculiar circumstances of a part of the inhabitants of this colony?—Or—If the education of the people be the duty of a Government—What will education be worth without religious truth? … Or, is secular education calculated to dispel superstition, break down native customs, and render the mind better fitted to apprehend religion, and so become her handmaiden?3

As this Natal Witness article highlighted, the role of the government in relation to education provision changed in the nineteenth century. This chapter explores the responses of settlers, missionaries and the local and imperial...

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