Apartheid Education and the Bantu Schools


The repercussions of the Bantu education system extended further than just the educational attitude of black students. The act had a serious effect on the management system of Bantu schools not only when it was initiated but also years later in present township schools. Outcome results are showing that, “the inefficiency in converting inputs into outputs in many former black schools can be seen as a form of managerial inefficiency that dates back to the apartheid era and that educational reforms since the transition may not yet have overcome.”[1]

In order to understand the weak operation of previously disadvantaged schools, one must understand the effect of the Bantu Education Act on school management as well. Education has long been identified as a means of control and power. Values, morals, ideologies and culture are all essentially passed down through the educational realm. Understanding this, the repressionists as well as the segregationists in the apartheid government took advantage of this tool and placed the educational affairs of blacks in the hands of the Minister of Development, while whites and coloreds dealt with their own educational expenditure, employment, standards, and qualifications.[2]

Thus, educators in previously disadvantaged schools have little experience in administration and governance to guide them through such tasks. First, the management of black education was in the control of the Department of Bantu Education where a curriculum was designed that instilled a white supremacist ideology in the minds of students.[3] Due to the Bantu Education Act, white apartheid officials had the ability through education to create learners who were subservient, apathetic bystanders in society. In 1981, the Tricameral Parliament was established, which allowed white, colored, and Asian peoples to finance the costs of their education and to control salaries and conditions of employees in the system, the registration of teachers, examination of qualifications, and the standards of curriculum.[4] While their general affairs were under the control of the Minister of National Education, all affairs for Black South Africans were managed by the Minister of Development and Training’s Department of Education and Training.[5] Thus, black educators continued to have no understanding of how to run or control a system of education, let alone a school.

When South Africa established a democratic perspective on education after the end of apartheid, a decentralization of power ensued, resulting in transition of management from a central authority to a local level, where authoritative decisions would be made not solely by the state, but by those with closer interests in the schools. In addition, the new government would place policy implementation in the hands of school teachers and administration during the transition, looking for exemplary results that would bolster the country’s appearance. These results would be based on the success of the teachers and the guidance and efficiency of the administration.[6] However, due to the lack of experience in managing their own educational affairs prior to and throughout apartheid, the “administrators, teachers, and parents… who best understand the contexts and cultures of the school environment”[7] would not have the skills or the ability to fulfill such duties as requested by the post-apartheid government.

  1. Van der Berg, 869.
  2. Van Zyl, 15.
  3. Van Zyl, 12.
  4. Van Zyl, 15.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Van Wyk, “School Governance in South Africa,” 123.
  7. Ibid.


Apartheid Transition Copyright © 2011 by Andy. All Rights Reserved.


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