Adaptation argument for substituting purely literary education

It is particularly interesting to note that the "Afrocentric" models which emerge later in the 1980s and 90s in fact appear to echo what British policy in the 1920s/30s was about: substituting a "purely literary education" (from the British context) for one that is more adapted to local context and environment. Africans in the 1930s rejected that as a ploy to keep the Africans in their place (which was informed by the British experience in India).

"There was also widespread agreement both in Whitehall and amongst colonial officials serving in the colonies on the need to adapt the curriculum in African schools to bring it into line with the local environment and culture. As L.S. Amery, the Colonial Secretary, remarked at the Imperial Conference in 1926, it was the policy of the British Government to substitute a purely literary education, which was really only suitable for the environment of somewhere like Great Britain, for a type of education that would give the native an understanding of his own environment and cultural setting. Not surprisingly, many Africans, especially in the 1930s, rejected the adaptation argument as a ploy to ‘keep them in their place’. Theirs was an argument that was difficult to refute although there are sound reasons for claiming that British policy was motivated more by the Indian experience than by any premeditated desire to subjugate Africans. Moreover, by the 1920s, government officials were far more aware, as a result of the Indian experience, of the problems engendered by culture conflict. In Whitehall and in Africa there were widespread fears amongst colonial officials that African tribal society might collapse in the face of Western influence. It was, therefore, thought important to control and if possible slow the process of socioeconomic change."


Analytic (Question)





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