History of African education in Nyasaland, 1875-1945
MacDonald, Roderick James
For the half-century spanning the years 1875 to 1926, African education in the territory known for the latter portion of that period' as Nyasaland was solely in the hands of Christian missionaries, sent out to this comparatively small, land-locked British Protectorate, from Europe, from the United States and from the Union of South Africa. Those missionaries who had the greatest influence educationally came from Scotland and represented that country's Established Church as well as its United Free Church. In 1907, shortly after responsibility for the administration of this British Protectorate was transferred from the Foreign Office to the Colonial Office, and at the behest of the representatives-of the Protestant missions represented in the Protectorate, the Nyasaland Government agreed to the distribution among the several Christian missions of the sum of £1,000, per annum as a grant-in-aid to their educational activities. This granti-n- aid, doubled to £2,000 per annum in 1920, represented until the mid-1920's the sum total of Government participation in the educational process, apart from a series of strictures designed to-limit the autonomy of African school teachers within the overall framework of European administered missions. These strictures, to no small degree, stemmed from the impact upon the European community in Nyasaland of the unsuccessful Rising in the southern portion of the Protectorate in the early weeks of 1915, led by the Reverend John Chilembwe. Following the conclusion of the First World War, as part of the general re-examination of-Great Britain's responsibilities in the field of social services to her dependent peoples scattered throughout the world, a Department of Education was established within the Protectorate in 1926. From this point onwards, the Nyasaland Government, in line with Great Britain's evolving Colonial policy, assumed the determining role in the shaping of educational development within the Protectorate. A series of Education Ordinances were passed by the territory's Legislative Council, a skeleton staff of able administrators was appointed, and the grant-in-aid to education to be distributed annually among the missions operating in the Protectorate was raised to £11,000. These measures were designed to impose a degree of uniformity upon the educational practices of the several missions. Educational opportunities for Africans throughout the whole of the inter-war period in Nyasaland continued to be confined to the primary level, together with a series of courses designed to prepare numerous individuals for careers either in primary school teaching or in a variety of industrial vocations. Throughout this period, the missions continued to play an overwhelmingly preponderant role in the day-to-day conduct and supervision of virtually all of the educational institutions in the Protectorate. In addition, they continued to contribute a measure of support for educational activity in terms of manpower and of finance, disproportionate to the degree of control they exercised over the determination of educational policy. The mission, nonetheless, enjoyed a substantial degree of support for their educational endeavours from the Government's educational officers. Mission representatives also possessed a numerical majority on the prestigious Advisory Committee on Education, whose influence on the determination of educational policy in Nyasaland was substantial. The effects of the world-wide economic depression had a markedly depressive effect throughout the 1930'o in curtailing the anticipated' growth of educational opportunity throughout the Protectorate. With the onset of the Second World War, however, and the establishment of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, the Nyasaland Government was able to inaugurate a number of improvements. Secondary education was initiated on a very modest scale with the opening of two Secondary Schools in 1940 and 1942. In 1941 an official Standard VI, primary school-leaving examination was introduced throughout the Protectorate. During the closing years of the war and in the wake of a visit paid to the territory by the Educational Adviser to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, an initial five-year plan for education was drawn up, and endorsed. in 1945 a now Education Ordinance replaced the one which had operated since 1930. With the very considerable increase in Government funds now available, the way lay open for more rapid advance upon a broad front. This thesis attempts to examine in some detail and in chronological sequence, the developments outlined above. Within the limitations imposed by the availability of sources, it attempts to examine the interaction of Government and the missions throughout the period under examination with particular reference to"the variety of influences brought to boar upon the question of education throughout the 1920's, the decade that saw the guidelines laid down for future development. Financial limitations severely slowed the pace of implementation of these recommendations, however, and changing colonial policies altered their priorities somewhat with the passage of years. In addition to this general chronological narrative of educational development, this thesis attempts to examine the reaction of NyasalandIc African peoples to the creation of anew social, economic and political milieu, as reflected in their acceptance or rejection of the educational influences to which they were exposed. An important corollary of this last theme is the development from a very early stage of an African educated class. This numerically small elite, employing its newly acquired knowledge and skills to good effect, attempted by a variety of means both to speed and to shape the development of the educational process. How far they succeeded, . and to what extent they influenced Governmental and mission policies, represents the concluding aspect of this theme.