What is Bantu Education

Bantu Education Act

The Bantu Education Act, Act No. 47/1953 (German: Bantu-Bildungs-Gesetz) was a law that was passed by the parliament of South Africa on October 5, 1953. The preparations for this law were the responsibility of Hendrik Verwoerd, the then Minister for Native Affairs (Minister of Native Affairs) and later Prime Minister. With Bantu (as a synonym for Native) within the meaning of the law all citizens of South Africa were meant who are considered to be "a member of any indigenous race or tribe in Africa ("... a member of any aboriginal race or tribe of Africa; ...) were viewed. The law laid the foundations for them to introduce “Bantu education” within the framework of apartheid policy, which was qualitatively below normal school education.

Purpose and goals

The officially declared purpose of this law was to transfer the administration and control of indigenous education of any kind or level from all provincial administrations, as well as all other related matters, to the responsibility of the Union government of South Africa.[1]

The Bantu Education Act is one of a group of laws in South Africa that served to legalize the concept of apartheid. The general aim was to place the non-white population groups, especially the black South Africans, in a specific legal, social and cultural indoctrination position and consequently to force them into a position that was distanced or isolated from the white upper class.

The scope of the law extended to every school, class, every college or every institution for the education of “Bantu children and persons” and to the instruction and training of persons who want to take up the teaching profession, as well as existing forms of offer for their further education (Paragraph 14).

In paragraph 15, paragraph 1 of Bantu Education Act it lists extensive powers how the ministry will undertake the administrative reorganization of the education system for the "Bantu population". This includes regulatory issues such as the subsequent regulations to be issued on rights, obligations and remuneration. Disciplinary regulations for teachers as well as supervision and control by the competent authority over training and instruction courses are explicitly mentioned.

For the further implementation of the objectives that were not precisely defined, options for action that were not regulated in more detail or were somehow restricted were expressly permitted, which enabled differentiated decisions for teachers, groups, classes or “teachers of certain races”, or schools and regions. This regulation according to Paragraph 15, Paragraph 2 left the competent ministry free to make arbitrary decisions.

In addition to the massive scope for shaping and influencing the ministry, Paragraph 12 assures that “with regard to the principle of active participation by the Bantu population in the control and management of the State Bantu schools, regional, local and school bodies are created. ”In addition, the granting of rights, duties, functions and privileges for self-governing bodies and not more precisely defined Bantu authorities in prospect.

The basis for these double structures had already been created in 1951 with the Bantu Authorities Act. The three-tier management system for the reserves, the later homelands, thus established, provided opportunities for joint responsibility for the construction and maintenance of educational institutions. These tasks could be transferred to their regional authorities through individual legal acts. In the settlement areas of the black population that had not yet become autonomous homelands, their own regional authority was run by a "white" administrative level.[2]

With the entry into force of the Bantu Education Act the South African Department of Native Affairs was given the authority to expropriate land it deems necessary for the purpose of restructuring educational structures.

Verwoerd quote

The following statement has been passed down from the responsible minister, Hendrik Verwoerd, within these matters:

  • "There is no place for [the Bantu] in the European community above the level of certain forms of labor ... 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. "[3]


In the ensuing situation in the country among the indigenous black population, the establishment of state-run schools meant that the school facilities operated in large numbers by mission societies and other religious organizations (around 5000) had to be transferred to the South African state. This also pursued the goal of eliminating the influence of liberal and English-influenced attitudes on the young generation of the black population, which was independent of apartheid politics. The intended impact was low quality and inadequate education, which led to targeted structural discrimination.[4][5]

In 1969, government spending on education for a black child compared to a white child was 17:70. On average, a teacher at a "Bantu school" taught classes with a strength of 51 students. Some of the educational staff did not have sufficient training. The long-term consequences of those policies have resulted in persistent mass unemployment and a widespread educational deficit. The latter can hardly be compensated for. Accordingly, the annual admissions to the state's universities were shaped by white students for many years. The refusal to provide adequate schooling resulted in long simmering political unrest among the younger generation in some metropolitan areas (see uprising in Soweto). Reintegration into the school education that was interrupted as a result and obtaining a qualification proved impossible in many cases and caused psychological and social consequential damage.[6]

With this law, the 1945 law on financing the education of the indigenous population (Native Education Finance Act, Act No. 29/1945) is overridden.


  • Manfred Kurz: Indirect domination and violence in South Africa. Works from the Institut für Afrika-Kunde, No. 30. Hamburg (Institut für Afrika-Kunde) 1981
  • Dieter Nohlen (Ed.), Franz Nuscheler (Ed.): Third World Handbook. Vol. 5 East Africa and South Africa. Bonn (J.H.W. Dietz Nachf.) 1993, 3rd edition ISBN 3-8012-0205-4

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Legal text intro (English)
  2. ↑ Brief: Indirect Rule, p. 39
  3. ↑ quoted from Brian Lapping: Apartheid: a history. London (Grafton / Collins) 1987 ISBN 0-246-13064-4
  4. ^ Nohlen, Nuscheler: Third World Handbook. Vol. 5, p. 431
  5. ↑ Brief description of the Bantu Education Act 1953. on www.nelsonmandela.org (Nelson Mandela Center of Memory and Dialogue)
  6. ^ Nohlen, Nuscheler: Third World Handbook. Vol. 5, pp. 458-459