Introduction: The genesis of educational policy in late colonial Africa: 1900-1950s
“When we speak of educational reforms, we mean planned efforts to change schools in order to correct perceived social and educational problems” in society, and such reform “usually entails a long and complex set of steps: discovering problems, devising remedies, adopting new policies and bringing about institutional change.”’ Charting the nature and course of such changes in advanced capitalist states has been an extremely complex task. The field of history of education has seldom provided adequate guidelines for an enquiry that would link the study of history of education to the search for solutions to contemporary problems of educational reform. The most successful attempts to engage with that task are to be found in the American literature from the great renaissance of history of education during the revisionist era of the 1970s. Authors like Lawrence Cremin, David Tyack, Larry Cuban, Michael Katz, David Labaree and others provided an impressive library on the contested and contradictory nature of educational reform in the United States during the twentieth century.2 Among the few attempts to chart the terrain of comparative historical reform are Andy Green’s Education and State Formation: The Rise of Education Systems in England, France and the USA;' Laurence Brockliss and Neola Sheldon’s, Mass Education and the Limits of State Building, cl870-1930j and Harold and Pam Silver’s An Educational War on Poverty? The excellent Oxford Handbook of the History of Education, edited by John Kury and Eileen Tamara, provides the most recent update of the field.6 As far back as the Special Reports on Educational Subjects by the British Board of Education (1897—1914) and the 1930s Yearbooks of Education, there have been attempts to engage with such an examination of comparative literatures.' Yet the emergence of the formal study of comparative education failed to produce a policy blueprint. As Nicolas Hans pointed out,
the general conclusions which can be drawn . . . are few, but important for the study of Comparative Education. Whereas philosophy, sociology, and economics, by comparing education in different countries, attempt to establish principles underlying the evolution of educational theory and practice, the historical approach tries to investigate the past causes of individual and group variations among religious or national communities. The differences of denominational attitudes, of national aspirations or so-called “national character” go deep into the past and sometimes subconsciously determine the present. Only historical investigation can bring them to the surface, illuminate their potency in the cultural lives of nations and make Comparative Education really educative.8
This collection attempts to extend that enquiry to the domain of colonial education in Africa during the first half of the twentieth century as a follow-up to the Workshops on Colonial Education held at the University of Cape Town in 2013 and 2016.'’ The history of educational reform in colonial Africa needs to be understood within the long history of humanitarian and philanthropic effort from the Emancipation of the Slaves and the Aborigines Protection Society (APS) from the 1830s to the transition to development discourses in the first half of the twentieth century, in the context of the global history' of education.1" As Joseph Hodge has demonstrated so convincingly in relation to the British African Empire in the 1930s, the relationship between education and society needs to be associated with a range of wider policy issues. This entails placing educational changes in the context of broad social and economic trends, which were shaped by the move from a policy which focused exclusively on extractive capitalism and the enlargement of the “Imperial Estate” to the cautious shift to the “Human Side of Development” in the 1930s with an emphasis on trusteeship under the watchful eye of the League of Nations. This included the beginning of “development policies,” which placed a degree of emphasis on “Native” agriculture, health, nutrition, welfare and education. The role of science, missions and philanthropy in those changes was fundamental, and the complex response by the Colonial Office (CO) to these trends needs to be recognized. These issues have provided the key focus for recent research.11
By 1938 Lord Hailey’s An African Survey was able to list CO advisory committees and consultants in fields as diverse as agriculture and animal health, health and medicine, economics, labor, law, finance, fisheries, forestry, nutrition, tsetse fly and locust control, in addition to the Advisory' Committee on Education in the Colonies (ACEC).12 These initiatives are to be understood within the wider brief of the Colonial Development Advisory Committee, which first reported in 1930.13 Metropolitan initiatives focused on research and training in the colonial areas included the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the International Institute of African Languages and Culture (IIALC) (later to be called the International Africa Institute 11 Al]) based at the London School of Economics (LSE), the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and the Oversea Division of the loE at London University.14 As Hailey pointed out in 1938, “Africa today' presents itself as a living laboratory, in which the reward of study' may prove to be not merely the satisfaction of an intellectual impulse, but an effective addition to the welfare of the people.”15
It is in this context that the scaffolding of what later came to be called “development” was assembled from a variety of disparate sources. This accumulated expertise from the interwar period provided a background for African “development policy” in the post—World War II era. Yet the history of the relationship between development and education in Africa has not been well explored. A curious feature of the new development studies literature on Africa in the 1960—1970s is that it gave little recognition to the foundations of policy that had been laid in the prewar era. A cursory examination of the vast literature on these issues reveals little regard for the history of knowledge and policy experience from the earlier time, despite the involvement of many of the same people in the construction of the new “development” dialogue. I found little on this topic in a selection of key contemporary' writing by Guy Hunter,16 L. Gray Cowan, Janies O’Connell and David Scanlon (eds.)1' and Richard Jolly.18 The landmark studies by C. Arnold Anderson, J.R. Sheffield and A.R. Thompson fail to provide a comprehensive picture of this background.1'' Nicholas Hans’s pathbreaking lectures on comparative education at the loE, delivered in 1945—1947, pay scant attention to the colonial context?" Even specific historical works intended to give insights into the colonial education policy, like those of Philip Foster, Kenneth King and Clive Whitehead, largely neglect the emergent policy culture which linked education to wider development policies.21 Following on the work of John Cell, Joseph Hodge and Helen Tilley, I hope this work will go some way to bridging that gap.
This collection seeks to interrogate a broad range of sources and perspectives on the relationship between education and history over the course of the first half of the twentieth century with specific reference to the African colonial world and to explore the implications of those changes. At the time of the celebration of the “Mandela century” it explores the relationship between educational policy and politics, economics and social transformation between 1910 and 1945. Although there will be only passing reference to the post—World War II era, the goal of the study is to present readers with a set of sources for understanding the nature of the discourses about educational development in the last phase of colonial rule and during the “Development Era,” which coincided with the formal end of colonialism from the 1950s. The passing of that era with the onset of the new “Capitalist World Order” under the so-called Washington Consensus during the time of Thatcher and Reagan, marked in Africa by the imposition of World Bank Structural Adjustment Policies (SAP), signified a break with the earlier development policies and led to the widespread abandonment of the commitment to the politics of social welfare and poverty' reduction in favor of a market-orientated order that highlighted economic growth over welfare considerations.
I am concerned to explore the significance of historical research for our understandings of the rhetoric and reality of policy production — both in the past and at the present time. More specifically, I wish to explore the “distinction between the context of policy' formulation and the context of policy' realization” — between what people said (discourse) and what people actually did in the practice of educational policy development in a colonial context. I seek to explore the “networks, exchanges and relations among a range of public, private and voluntar}' organisations through which change was instituted in relation to the production of regulative and governing practices.”22 The construction of such knowledge at any particular time is to be understood with regard to who can speak with authority and why their opinions are given priority by those with the power to frame policy.
A key element in this enquiry is therefore to explore how particular interpretation of policy emerged as part of an intertextual and institutional context that made the texts “reasonable” for those with power - and more generally in the common sense of a broader social/political community. “In this sense, our attention is directed to systems of reason (images, narratives and discourses) through which the objects of schooling are classified and ordered over time, providing the way to think about change.” As Thomas Popkewitz notes, what is considered to be “reasonable” policy from a governmental point of view at any particular moment is therefore something sanctioned not solely by reason but by what might be possible in the social, political and economic circumstances of the time and place.2’’
The historical context being explored here is not easily subjected to the usual procedures of the historian. The focus of the study is on the emergent, fragile discourse of development in the late colonial context relating to Africa, with special reference to the field of education. This review has drawn from multiple historical and archival sources that present the challenge of understanding a variety of contexts and the careful selection of evidence that must often be advanced as tentative and fragmentary. This is not the story of a specific enquiry into a particular educational project or policy. It does not relate to a specific set of documents or regional circumstances, individuals or groups of historical actors. It represents an attempt to construct a loose framework through which to understand educational change networks and outcomes on a wide stage of the late colonial world.
A key issue to keep in mind in relation to this work has been what Popkewitz calls “the doubleness of knowledge” - namely that this work explores not only how policy knowledge is constructed or verified but also how some kinds of knowledge come to be prioritized over others.
Such an approach does not lend itself to a single approach to research. It requires an amalgam of methodologies ranging from an understanding of Imperial History or the shifting nature of what has sometimes been called “the Imperial Mind” to the expanding role of missionary and government representatives, scientific “advisors” or local responses to policy proposals.
It also requires appropriate weight be given to the changes in missionary policy and the priorities crafted by philanthropic foundations in supporting or restricting specific kinds of research and enquiry at particular times. Those who constructed the initially informal, but later formal, scaffolding of colonial education in the first half of the twentieth century constituted a new scientific network that embraced various spheres of influence. Yet in relation to the British Empire in Africa they were never constituted into an official bureaucracy that wielded significant influence over policy. This loose network was made up of government officials (at the COs in London, Paris, Brussels and the Colonies themselves). It included academics, missionaries and scientists (educationalists, anthropologists, linguists, economists and philanthropists) of various stripes. Their work was funded by missionary organizations and secular bodies, including government and philanthropic foundations, the latter mostly based in the United States (Carnegie, Rockefeller, Phelps-Stokes, Jeanes), and later the Nuffield Foundation.24
I also approach the field from the point of view of a South African. Much of my previous work has focused on attempting to understand the nature and history of apartheid education and its effects on the history of “native education” in my country. That history has usually been presented as something exclusive to this context. This project is an attempt to write that history into a broader narrative of colonial education on the continent in general and to get away from the exceptionalism that has tended to dominate educational history here. I am trying to write South African history of education into the more general script of African colonial education.2’