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