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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 Ten: Protestant and French Colonial Literacies in Madagascar in the Early Twentieth Century


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Protestant AND French Colonial Literacies IN Madagascar IN THE Early Twentieth Century


Christian missions were pioneers of a Western form of education in many countries including Madagascar (the Malagasies).1 Arriving in 1818, the London Missionary Society (LMS) obtained a foothold among the politically dominant Merinas in the highlands. With the approval of the Merina king, they transcribed the Malagasy language using Latin characters, began literacy work and translated the Bible. Foreigners and missionaries were expelled from Madagascar in the period 1828 to 1862. Thereafter they were able to return, and until French colonisation in 1896, Protestant missions managed to build an extensive educational structure in the highlands. The Norwegian Mission Society (NMS) took part in this educational work from 1867. The Norwegian mission has its roots in a pietistic Lutheran culture. Their goal was to lead people to a personal relationship with God through reading the Bible in a familiar language. Even though the goals of the missions’ literacy were framed in terms of the promotion of religion, and thereby universalized and decontextualised in its content, their goals for literacy were simultaneously recontextualised to accommodate Malagasy culture and language. With colonisation, the political context for teaching reading and writing changed.

Bryant Mumford’s 1936 book, Africans Learn to Be French, had significant impact on Anglo-Saxon research on French colonial educational policy.2 The title of the book refers to the assimilationist goal of...

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