Racism in education is rampant

2015-11-12 06:00
The Black Educator Lukhanyo Mangona

The Black Educator Lukhanyo Mangona

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As universities continue to burn throughout the country I was asked by an acquaintance as to how we have come to arrive at this

. When this question was raised it reminded me of a little anecdote that happened during my previous life as a Small Scale Mining Trainer. It involved a situation where we asked a few parents why they educated their children. The answers from parents were predictable that they send their children to school so they can be able to speak to the language of the employer(read white man) so they can be able to find employment.

There is always the deep foundation in Western-thought (whether overtly or covertly) that they arrived in Africa to uneducated and uncivilized natives. This thought assumes that education was never practiced by Africans before they arrived in our shores. This is only true to those who are honestly lazy in thinking or deliberately doing so as to distort the true natural human ability. Africans have always reared their children with responsibility. In doing so they have also sought to self-educate their children. Like many daily activities in African life education was never thought of something that can be outsourced and commoditized.

Education as we know it today, or what scholars in the field refer to as European-influenced education, was introduced in South Africa by missionaries in 19th century. This is indeed was the genesis of what would be a long trend of solutions-importing in South Africa. If you don’t believe ask yourself how we ended up with the Outcomes Based Education (OBE). What is absolutely clear is that in the past three centuries that South Africa experienced entrapment of colonial dispensation our education system has always been mired with racism in one way or the other.

Before Missionaries set to work to introduce education formerly education was nothing more than a theological indoctrination exercise. In what academics say is an entry in Jan Van Riebeeck’s diary is telling. They quote “Began holding schools for young slaves… to stimulate the slaves to attention while at schools and to induce them to learn Christian prayer….”. This was later sprinkled with some measure of arithmetic so they can grow up to do the menial tasks for slaves with some measure of sophistication.

Evidence suggests that when the Missionaries set to work “the schools in South Africa were not segregated, that is, children of all races attended the same missionary schools.” This act of goodness from Missionaries was however short-lived because historians say a 50/50 commission of Afrikaaner/British in the late 19th Century was set up. This commission surmised their characterization of black people as people who “superstitious and warlike”, possess a “value of life human life is very low” amongst other points. This characterization was done to justify segregation in education and further moderate what is taught to Africans specific to what is expected of them as labour. What is perhaps more telling can be found in Verwoed when he said “Until now he[the African] has been subjected to a schooling system which drew him away from his own community misled him by showing him the green pasture of European society in which he was not allowed to graze.”

So these to me appear to be that the segregationist and racist machinery has long been sophisticated. From the early days they devised systems that morally argued for racism and relegated African education to nothing more than giving one ability to do simple tasks. The truth behind finding these academic and sophisticated “moral” argument to justify white superiority in education is found in the paper by Prof. Ernest F. Dube The Relationship betweeen Racism and Education in South Africa. Prof Dube state that “the seemed to have been no reason for introducing segregated schools… The was no argument presented to indicate friction between white and black children, nor was there any to indicate that black children were failing to learn as well as white children”. He goes on to cite excellent results for missionary schools and equal competence for white and black. This leads to one conclusion that these par competencies presented a threat and jealousy crept out of the woodwork. And if you are wondering why we are here that seems to be the answer.

. Mangona is a freelance writer who just loves education. Send your education questions to theblackeducator@gmail.com that you need the The Black Educator to answer and publish in future issues. His views do not necessarily represent the views of City Vision.

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