The Shaping of a Comparative Perspective
Edited By Peter Kallaway and Rebecca Swartz
Chapter Three: Shaping Colonial Subjects through Government Education: Policy, Implementation and Reception at the Cape of Good Hope, 1839–1862
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Shaping Colonial Subjects THROUGH Government Education
Policy, Implementation and Reception at the Cape of Good Hope, 1839–1862
This chapter investigates an unprecedented attempt by a nineteenth-century British colonial administration to improve education provision in one of its possessions. Very little scholarly work has been undertaken on Cape colonial education, and the brief flowering of the ‘New System’ (referred to officially as the ‘Established System’) of government schools1 deserves attention. Launched by a Colonial Government Minute of 23 May, 1839, it shows an imagination for a non-racial and free system of government education in the Cape Colony. The contingent coming together of particular individuals resulted in its particular form. The policy proposal reflects the demands of the time—to regulate a problematised colonial population. The discourses emerging around the government schools were of a superior liberal education at the hands of well-qualified teachers.
Many participating government teachers appear to have seen themselves as part of an inspirational project. One of these, George Bremner, noted, that this ‘scheme of public education [was] … in liberality and catholicity of range … much ahead of existing systems, whether in Europe or elsewhere’.2 This chapter moves from policy to implementation, using the career and writing of the government teacher, George Bremner, at Graaff-Reinet, 1848–1860, to illustrate the complexities of government education in practice. It will be argued that three elements ← 81 | 82 → combined...
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