Bantu Education, the separate and limited experience encountered by non-whites in South Africa when pursuing an education, was a cornerstone of the apartheid philosophy. The following quotes illustrate the diverse viewpoints about Bantu Education from both sides of the anti-Apartheid struggle.
“It has been decided that for the sake of uniformity English and Afrikaans will be used as media of instruction in our schools on a 50-50 basis as follows:
English medium: General Science, Practical Subjects (Homecraft, Needlework, Wood and Metalwork, Art, Agricultural Science)
Afrikaans medium: Mathematics, Arithmetic, Social Studies
Mother Tongue: Religion Instruction, Music, Physical Culture
The prescribed medium for these subject must be used as from January 1975.
In 1976 secondary schools will continue using the same medium for these subjects.“
Signed JG Erasmus, Regional Director of Bantu Education, 17 October 1974.
“There is no place for [the Bantu] in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour … What is the use of teaching the Bantu child mathematics when it cannot use it in practice? That is quite absurd. Education must train people in accordance with their opportunities in life, according to the sphere in which they live.“
Dr Hendrik Verwoerd, South African minister for native affairs (prime minister from 1958 to 66), speaking about his government’s education policies in the 1950s. As quoted in Apartheid – A History by Brian Lapping, 1987.
“I have not consulted the African people on the language issue and I’m not going to. An African might find that ‘the big boss’ only spoke Afrikaans or only spoke English. It would be to his advantage to know both languages.“
South African Deputy Minister of Bantu Education, Punt Janson, 1974.
“We shall reject the whole system of Bantu Education whose aim is to reduce us, mentally and physically, into ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’.“
Soweto Sudents Representative Council, 1976.
“We should not give the Natives any academic education. If we do, who is going to do the manua labour in the community?“
JN le Roux, National Party politician, 1945.
“School boycotts are but the tip of the iceberg – the crux of the matter is the oppressive political machinery itself.“
Azanian Students Organisation, 1981.
“I have seen very few countries in the world that have such inadequate educational conditions. I was shocked at what I saw in some of the rural areas and homelands. Education is of fundamental importance. There is no social, political, or economic problem you can solve without adequate education.“
Robert McNamara, ex-president of the World Bank, during visit to South Africa in 1982.
“The education we receive is meant to keep the South African people apart from one another, to breed suspicion, hatred and violence, and to keep us backward. Education is formulated so as to reproduce this society of racism and exploitation.“
Congress of South African Students, 1984.