How far did the impact of western education on Africans vary between different territories or colonies in terms of their struggle for independence?


Term Paper, 2005
20 Pages, Grade: 71 von 80

Excerpt

Index

Introduction

The Gold Coast

The Ivory Coast

The Belgian Congo

Bibliography

Introduction

The aim of this essay is to discuss in how far the impact of western education on Africans varied between different territories or colonies in terms of their impact on the emergence of nationalism and the struggle for independence. Education was a major tool in the cultural conquest of Africa and the colonising powers realized this quite early. Missionaries were among the first to make serious efforts to introduce a western style education in the early nineteenth century.

To the same extent different colonial powers approached the colonization and administration of their territories differently, approaches to educate the Africans differed. Western education had an impact on the African societies during colonial rule, in the process of decolonization and also in the time after independence. As said, I want to focus on the impact of educational efforts on the struggle for independence and the nationalist movements in Africa. To do this, I chose three territories as case studies which were administered by three different European powers: The Gold Coast, the Ivory Coast and the Belgian Congo.

Methodologically, I opted to work through a list of questions which I grouped into six categories. The questions are:

1. When did education get introduced in this colony?
2. By whom was the education conducted and who had control over it?
3. How was the educational system outlined and how big was the proportion of Africans that were schooled?
4. Where and when was the vernacular, where and when the language of the colonisers used in the educational process?
5. What were the underlying ideologies and colonial policies that determined the education?
6. In what kind of jobs or functions and with what kind of attitudes or orientations did the educated continue their lives when leaving the educational institutions? How did this affect the emergence of nationalism and the struggle for independence?

I will discuss these questions for each case study separately. However, it occasionally makes sense to compare aspects of one case study with the similar aspects of the other ones. I also avoided a general conclusion at the end, because I consider point six in each of the case studies as separate conclusions in itself, which however do not miss to draw comparisons to the other cases as well.

The Gold Coast

1. When did education get introduced in this colony?

The first western kind of schools were introduced in the Gold Coast by protestant missionaries in the beginning of the 19th century.[1] More advanced and sophisticated secondary schools or colleges started to get introduced in 1876; higher education was established after the Second World War.

2. By whom was the education conducted and who had control over it?

Education in the Gold Coast was in the hand of the missionaries, who next to the inhibition of slave trade devoted their efforts largely to this matter.[2] In the 1950s, three fourths of the schools were run by religious institutions, the ratio of protestant to catholic schools being two to one.[3]

3. How was the educational system outlined and how big was the proportion of Africans that were schooled?

Before the introduction of university education, the Gold Coast had a three-tiered system of primary, middle and secondary schools with additional vocational schools (e.g. for teachers training) at the middle and secondary levels. At the apex, there was a secondary school to train the new elite groups, which was the Achimota School.[4]

This school was a specialized institution with the aim of preparing students for the administrative service which, as we will see later, should have a profound impact on nationalism. Curtain notices about Achimota and its French West African counterpart William Ponty in Dakar that “[t]hey were sometimes the nurseries of entire national elites – Westernized, alienated from the mass of the population, but fervent nationalists with the intention of exercising the leadership roles for which they had been trained.”[5]

Some statistics illustrate the scale of the educational efforts in the Gold Coast. In 1950, 6.5 percent of the total population attended school. School enrolment doubled from 1950 to 1955 to 599,843 in February, 1955. The growth from 1946 to 1951 was 61.2 percent.[6]

The vast educational efforts of the missionaries led to a large quantity of educated people. This went so far that much more people were produced towards the end of one educational stage that could actually move into the next stage. This was a reason for discontent, as we will see later.

The Gold Coasters could attend English universities since the nineteenth century, but territorial university education came only after WWII.[7]

4. Where and when was the vernacular, where and when the language of the colonisers used in the educational process?

A knowledge of English was considered as necessary for civilisation by the colonisers[8], which is why the British language policy was to switch the classroom language to English after the first years of schooling.[9]

5. What were the underlying ideologies and colonial policies that determined the education?

Since the British administration left the education in the hand of the missionaries, the Gold Coast had the educational system with the least state intervention of the three case studies. This is noteworthy, because schooling was not carefully designed by colonial authorities to create an ideological “message of its own”. Instead, there was an educational system controlled by the missionaries that started from a very wide base, and the reason for this was that the Protestant missionaries wanted to create as many converts as possible.

But what made sense from the view of the Protestant missionaries proved how haphazard British educational policy really was, because no matter how large the number of graduates on different levels was, the British did not expand the positions available for African placement to the expanded supply. The result was that there were large numbers of graduates who were either unemployed or employed below the levels of their skills.[10]

As we will see, the French assimilative approach and the Belgian approach towards education were both more systematic and followed certain aims. It has to be noted though, that the outcome of the British educational policy proved to more assimilative than the educational policy of the French, because there was more secondary education available in the British colonies which could influence African habits and attitudes.

6. In what kind of jobs or functions and with what kind of attitudes or orientations did the educated continue their lives when leaving the educational institutions? How did this affect the emergence of nationalism and the struggle for independence?

The new West African institutions like the administration, the schools and the missions needed trained personnel which gave rise to a new class, the educated elite.[11] There are many parallels in the development and impact of this new class in the history of the Gold Coast and Ivory Coast, while the picture in the Belgian Congo is quite different in this aspect. It makes sense therefore to leave the concept of focussing on one colony for a while in order to look simultaneously on the basic features that characterized the emerging educated elites in the two West African colonies of the three case studies before looking at territorial specificities later on.

One of the most prominent features which made African elites make an impact on colonial politics was their language ability. Africans who were educated to a high standard in a European language had influence because they could negotiate and debate with the conquerors. It also meant that they could get jobs in the colonial administration or European firms. This did not mean that they could compete successfully for expatriate jobs in the most cases, although this situation changed in the short period prior to independence.[12]

The anti-political attitudes of the European powers in the early days of the colonial period forced the Africans to mask their political protest in non-political voluntary associations and churches. The political channels which were made available by the colonisers were “[…] for the chiefs and, in the Gold Coast more than the Ivory Coast, for a small group of intellectuals.”[13] But the local government bodies and territorial assemblies only had very limited power. The decisions were mainly made by the administrative hierarchy, an consequently it was the civil service where power and prestige could be found.[14]

The primary requirement for the admission to the civil service and to advance in it was education. Therefore it were members of the educated elite who entered the civil service: Intellectuals and even professionals like doctors and lawyers chose to make a career in it.[15]

[...]


[1] I. Wallerstein: The Road to Independence. Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Paris: Mouton & Co, 1964, 15

[2] ibid., 15

[3] ibid., 138-9

[4] Wallerstein, 15

[5] Philip Curtin and others: African History. London: Longman, 1978, 535

[6] Wallerstein, 137

[7] Curtin, 535

[8] ibid., 533

[9] Wallerstein, 15

[10] Wallerstein, 39-40

[11] ibid., 24

[12] Curtin, 569

[13] Wallerstein, 146

[14] ibid.

[15] ibid.

Excerpt out of 20 pages

Details

Title
How far did the impact of western education on Africans vary between different territories or colonies in terms of their struggle for independence?
College
University of Manchester  (Department of History)
Course
Nationalism in Twentieth-Century Africa
Grade
71 von 80
Author
Year
2005
Pages
20
Catalog Number
V44777
ISBN (eBook)
9783638423083
ISBN (Book)
9783638902366
File size
497 KB
Language
English
Notes
Als deutschen (Kurz)titel würde ich vorschlagen: "Der Einfluss kolonialer Erziehung auf den afrikanischen Nationalismus und dessen Unabhängigkeitsbewegungen."
Tags
Africans, Nationalism, Twentieth-Century, Africa
Quote paper
Johannes Huhmann (Author), 2005, How far did the impact of western education on Africans vary between different territories or colonies in terms of their struggle for independence?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/44777

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