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Overy, Neil G.R. (2002) These difficult days: Mission church reactions to Bantu education in South Africa 1949-56. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Mission education in South Africa became increasingly untenable in the 1940s because mission churches lacked the finances to be able to maintain a national system of educational provision and because Africans were questioning mission education which they increasingly considered institutionally racist. This crisis led the Nationalist Government to appoint an education commission to make recommendations leading to the reform of 'native education'. This commission argued that mission education was incompatible with the ordering of society envisaged by the government. It suggested that the state should wrestle control of 'native education' from missionaries, enabling it to fashion a policy more in sympathy with apartheid. In 1953 the Bantu Education Act was passed which withdrew state aid from mission schools and made their continued registration dependent on the approval of the Minister for Native Affairs. The Catholic Church, able to raise the necessary finance, decided to continue running alt their schools privately. This decision was based purely on religious doctrine and meant that the Church taught Bantu Education in alt of its schools. Of the remaining denominations only the American Board had the resources to maintain a single privately funded school. Aside from a few politicised figures in the Church of the Province of South Afiica who refused to lease their schools, claiming that to do so was to compromise with apartheid, church leaders leased their schools to the government. This decision was made because Church leaders considered that Bantu Education, despite their abhorrence to its ultimate aims, provided better opportunities to children than an 'education' picked up on the streets. This decision was made with little, if any, consultation with Africans (parents, teachers or students) because church governing structures were undemocratic and racially exclusive, denying Afiicans any meaningful representation. Ironically, the decision to lease was in accord with the wishes of most Africans who reluctantly accepted the fact that Bantu Education, in the absence of any realistic alternative, was better than no education.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:15

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