Review: a Keystone of Apartheid

Johnson, Walton R. Autumn, 1982. “Education: Keystone of Apartheid” Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3, African Education and Social Stratification (autumn, 1982), pp. 214-237Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association.

Basically, education is needed to transform the culture, norms, values, and build a person to understand better whatever around him. Each of us needs education, since child till the end of our life. However, something that essentially has good purpose, can also be an evil instrument depends on the ruler. Furthermore, it can be worse if the deviation was run by an official institution such a country. Walton R. Johnson, an admission counselor and former dean at Livingston College, analyze the implication of manipulating education in South Africa as the social stratification engineering in his article titled “Education: Keystone of Apartheid”. He explains thoroughly the Whites South Africa government policy in education that impact to the attempt of perpetuating the Whites supremacy toward the Africans. How the system of education methodically create the social discrimination in the society, and the effects to the Africans self-determination.

In this article, Walton R. Johnson tries to describe the condition of education in South Africa, and how it is being controlled as the device of social stratification mechanism. The investigation was begun with the history of education related to political and economic condition. In 17th century while the domination of Dutch; the education was not already managed systematically for both White and African. The education provided by only few churches. However, in 19th century while the arriving of British; they tried to create it more systematically. At the end of 19th century, both Afrikaners and English battle each other and separate their school. In 1892, the new public school was build, and can be entered only by the White till the 1967, the National Education Act obligate the separation between White and Africans. Moreover, this kind of policy is used to perpetuate the Apartheid system. Government takes the education as the social engineering that put the indigenous African at the subordinate position. However, Apartheid is also considered as the cultural system that defines the values, norms, and thinking’s. It builds the self-image that White Europeans have the unquestionable higher stratification than the Africans. The Africans were taught to be unequal to the Whites. Also, the alienated development in South Africa strengthens the fundamental Apartheid System. Both Whites and Africans put themselves separately include the education. At the end of the article, Johnson gives his view to the future of South Africa Education. He recommends the government to change the racially based education to the transformation of fundamental social stratification.

On the whole, Johnson manages his article in well-organized pattern. He opens his article with a very interesting citation. “We must strive to win the fight against the non-White in the classroom instead of losing it on the battlefield (Administrator of the Transvaal, 19612)”. This citation absolutely triggers the curiosity of the readers at the very beginning part. When see the citation, readers will get the clear hint what the article is going about. Moreover, he also arranges his article systematically. Start with the historical background, it tells readers how education develops in South Africa chronologically, since the Europeans arrival till the present time. Also, he put some headlines that strengthen the messages that he wants to tell. Bellow the each headlines, it contain several supporting ideas and details that make the explanation clearer.

The adding some data and evidence also make this article so convincing to the readers. Beside some facts provided, he gives also his analysis according to the each detail. For example, the facts that government just provides insufficient facility of education such as the number of school and teacher. “Due to shortage of space, roughly 50 percent of the African children entering the lowest primary grade are forced out before reaching the fourth year, completion of which is considered a minimum for the acquisition of functional literacy (Kaplan et al. 1971:231)”. Base on this fact, he connects to the impact of African’s lowest position in economy. “The 1979 Rickert Commission report found that 40 percent of the African male workforce in urban areas did not have educational qualifications sufficient to give them functional literacy, and the figure rose to 65 percent in the rural areas (Economist 6/21/80)”. At the result, he also gives his own opinion through the analysis. It makes readers get directly to the writer’s point. “Finally, African education, unlike white education, is of extraordinarily poor quality”.

Something that makes this article interesting is the fact that education in South Africa was used to support the Apartheid. In colonizing South Africa, Europeans prefer to civilize than fight against them. With education they systematically can defeat and take Africans in subordinate position. The fact that Africans always gain less qualified education brings them to the inferior power. In the curriculum, also government tries to build the African self-image toward the Whites. They teach the African pupils to understand that African is a kind of primitive before the arrival of Europeans, and don’t have any rights to be equal with the Whites. It means that education for both Whites and Africans were compulsory and managed by a certain act policy. However, This condition also occurred in Indonesia during the Dutch colonial domination in early 20th century. Dutch government provided an education to the Indonesians, but it is not compulsory. They who can gain the education were just the nobility children. In same case, the curriculum is the colonizer one, but it didn’t go as well as in South Africa because there was no racial separated development. Also, the achieved Indonesian student can gain the equal education with the Europeans and learn in the same class among them.

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