If we asked what was the greatest act of theft in South Africa’s history, many would name the Land Acts of 1913 – and they might be right. But the Bantu Education Act runs it a close second. Trevor Huddleston called it ‘the most destructive of all the apartheid legislation’.
That is because it takes years to build an educational system and only minutes to destroy one. In fact many did their best to prevent that destruction; we still meet those heroes and heroines of the classroom who often trained at church institutions like Grace Dieu (which were also closed at the same time and for the same reason), who simply refused to serve up a product as bad as they were instructed to, and who enabled generations of young rural and township kids to grasp more understanding than the law intended them to. Those kids are the people who lead South Africa today – and those teachers are the ones who ought to be given the medals (unlike some of those who in fact receive them).
But Bantu Education lasted a long time; and as we all know, a year wasted in education creates a hole which is much harder to fill afterwards, than if it had been filled at the right moment. Which is why, by 1994, 85% of the teachers in Soweto were themselves products of Bantu Education.
And that brings us back to the issue of being humiliated, and its effect on our psyches.Continue Reading... Comments (0)
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