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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

1953. Bantu Education Act

This is sometimes referred to as the NATIVE EDUCATION ACT (for instance, by Christopher 1994).

Mbamba (1982: 65) dates this act 1953, while it is dated 1954 by Christopher (1994: 150), and 1955 by Barber & Barratt (1990: 32). However, it was amended various times (for instance, 1956) and the later dates could refer to them.

It further segregated the already segregated educational system of South Africa. "Blacks were not to aspire to certain positions in society and so education for such positions was not deemed necessary" (Christopher 1994: 150).

Funding and administration of 'Native' education was to be transferred from mission schools to the state since the missions were "fostering ideas, such as equality, which could not be encouraged" (Christopher 1994: 151). The "5,000 or so mission schools produced, in Nationalist eyes, an academic training with too much emphasis on English and 'dangerous liberal ideas'. It was seen as the foundation of an African elite which claimed recognition in a common society" (Beinart 1994: 153).

This act also provided for mother tongue instruction at primary level (up to Standard 6), since "African vernacular languages ... would cement ethnic awareness in African children" (Beinart 1994: 153).

In 1958, 'Bantu Education' became a separate department of state, with control over administration and funding, as well as education and syllabuses.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.