Colonial Policies and Practices of Education in Africa

Cite as:

Okune, Angela. 2018. "Colonial Policies and Practices of Education in Africa." In PhD Orals Document: Decolonizing the African University. University of California, Irvine. October.

Introduction

A quick review of the literature on colonial education policy in Africa reveals two starkly divergent perspectives. Some scholars (e.g. Mwiria) hold that colonial education was deliberately planned with the aim to perpetuate colonial rule by colonizing the African mind (see Ngugi wa Thiong'o’s “Decolonizing the Mind” which emerges from this vein later). Others (e.g. Whitehead) argued that it is clear that colonial education policy on Africa was fraught with much confusion of purpose and lack of resources. These scholars argued that in fact Africans desired and pushed for access to Western education (Whitehead 2005). This debate touches on a bigger question, namely what is and should be the relationship between setting particular universal standards versus understanding and adapting to local contexts and needs? What type of education is considered necessary to be a competitive "global" worker and what other kinds of knowledges are considered necessary for other work? Who is getting what kinds of education and how are the distinctions marked by class, race, nationality, and gender? This section includes several works by historians and African philosophers grappling with these questions.

This essay is part of a broader orals document on Decolonizing the African University. Additional sub-essays within the document can be found through the following links: 

Ethics and Responsibility | Colonial Policies and Practices of Education in Africa | Bretton Woods and Investments in Education for Development | Politics and Practices of the Neoliberal University | Proposals for Alternative Approaches to Education | Tech Philanthropy | Openness and Academic Infrastructures

Angela Okune's Orals Documents in Brief

This essay is part of three orals documents submitted by University of California, Irvine Anthropology doctoral student Angela Okune i n partial fulfillment of her requirements for advancement to candidacy. Within UCI Anthropology, the orals documents typically take the form of three documents...Read more
Ball, Stephen J. 1983. “Imperialism, Social Control and the Colonial Curriculum in Africa.” Journal of Curriculum Studies 15 (3): 237–63.

Angela Okune: This 1983 paper by Stephen Ball raised three important points regarding the role that British colonial education policies played in African development. He highlighted the demand for education by local Africans; that the history of colonial schooling is marked by the...Read more

Bude, Udo. 1983. “The Adaptation Concept in British Colonial Education.” Comparative Education 19 (3): 341–55.

Abstract: "The solution to the problems of education in Africa proposed by Jones and his colleagues was the design of an educational concept adapted to the needs of people, completely oriented towards family and community life. Their proposed 'adapted education' for black Africa would, it was...Read more

Mwiria, Kilemi. 1991. “Education for Subordination: African Education in Colonial Kenya.” History of Education 20 (3): 261–73.

Abstract: "This paper looks at how the colonial government in Kenya used the education system in an attempt to strengthen their political and economic power over the African majority."Read more
Mangan, J. A. A. 1993. The Imperial Curriculum (RLE Edu H). Hoboken: Taylor & Francis.

Angela Okune: This 1993 volume is a comparative analysis of racial attitudes in the formal schooling of both Britain and its former dominions and colonies. The contributions include chapters looking at experiences in South Africa, Uganda and Kenya. A central theme throughout the work is that a...Read more

White, Bob W. 1996. “Talk about School: Education and the Colonial Project in French and British Africa (1860-1960).” Comparative Education 32 (1): 9–26.

Abstract: " As a study in comparative colonialism, this research attempts to identify similarities and differences in the French and British models of colonial education in Sub-Saharan Africa. Differences in colonial policy were conditioned to some extent by settlement patterns, the role of...Read more

Madeira, Ana Isabel. 2005. “Portuguese, French and British Discourses on Colonial Education: Church–State Relations, School Expansion and Missionary Competition in Africa, 1890–1930.” Paedagogica Historica 41 (1–2): 31–60.

Abstract: " This article draws a comparison between the Portuguese in relation to British and French discourses on overseas educational policies at the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century until the 1930s. It focuses on three main colonial educational dynamics: school expansion (...Read more
Whitehead, Clive. 2005. “The Historiography of British Imperial Education Policy, Part II: Africa and the Rest of the Colonial Empire.” History of Education 34 (4): 441–54.

Angela Okune: This 2005 article by Clive Whitehead situates the British colonial education policy towards Africa in the context of the rest of the British empire, especially India.Read more

Bibliography

Ball, Stephen J. 1983. “Imperialism, Social Control and the Colonial Curriculum in Africa.” Journal of Curriculum Studies 15 (3): 237–63. https://doi.org/10.1080/0022027830150302.

Bude, Udo. 1983. “The Adaptation Concept in British Colonial Education.” Comparative Education 19 (3): 341–55. https://doi.org/10.1080/0305006830190308.

Madeira, Ana Isabel. 2005. “Portuguese, French and British Discourses on Colonial Education: Church–State Relations, School Expansion and Missionary Competition in Africa, 1890–1930.” Paedagogica Historica 41 (1–2): 31–60. https://doi.org/10.1080/0030923042000335457.

Mangan, J. A. A. 2012. The Imperial Curriculum (RLE Edu H). Hoboken: Taylor & Francis. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=958353.

Mwiria, Kilemi. 1991. “Education for Subordination: African Education in Colonial Kenya.” History of Education 20 (3): 261–73. https://doi.org/10.1080/0046760910200306.

White, Bob W. 1996. “Talk about School: Education and the Colonial Project in French and British Africa (1860-1960).” Comparative Education 32 (1): 9–26. https://doi.org/10.1080/03050069628902.

Whitehead, Clive. 2005. “The Historiography of British Imperial Education Policy, Part II: Africa and the Rest of the Colonial Empire.” History of Education 34 (4): 441–54. https://doi.org/10.1080/00467600500138147.

FOR COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Essay Feedback

Orals Commitee members are requested to use the form (link below) to submit any feedback response in your evaluation of the essays and candidate. The authors and advisor have drafted elaborative review questions to help guide your interaction with the PECE essay format. https://goo.gl/forms/...Read more