Eventos Académicos, 39 ISCHE. Educación y emancipación

Tamaño de fuente: 
Emancipation and Education: a case study of the rural Cape Colony, South Africa, 1838-1852
Helen Ludlow

Última modificación: 2017-07-17


The practice of chattel slavery began at the Cape of Good Hope in the mid-seventeenth century as Dutch colonial rule became established. Drawn largely from South East Asia as well as Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius, a heterogeneous slave population laboured for the Dutch East Africa Company (VOC) and, increasingly, private settler farmers producing wheat and wine. British rule, effective from 1806, brought with it the emancipation of some 39 000 slaves by 1838.

Significantly from 1839, in the immediate post-emancipation era, the Cape colonial government introduced an experiment in state education; one unprecedented in the British Empire. Intended to include colonial subjects in free government schools regardless of race and class, it represented a moment when liberal egalitarian discourses of the post-emancipation era allowed for an imagination of an inclusive system at the Cape. But it also problematized local Dutch, indigenous Khoisan and slave populations as needing to be uplifted and regulated as members of an Anglicizing society.

Despite its inclusive intentions and an ambitious liberal curriculum, the Established System was soon recognized as incapable of serving the needs of all the colonial children. From 1841 the Superintendent-General of Education at the Cape began to identify increasing numbers of mission schools which could be given a small government grant and to which responsibility for the education of the poor, including the newly emancipated slaves, could be given. This paper explores the fairly rapid exclusion of former slave children from government schools. It then compares the offerings of mission schools in a number of rural localities with that of the Established System. What did emancipation mean for education and what did education provide for the newly ‘emancipated’ in terms of participation in a ‘free’ society?