Colonial education in Tanganyika, 1920- 1950: a historical critique of agricultural education

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University of Dar es Salaam
A frequent criticism of British colonial education is that it never developed a system of education that was relevant for the vast majority of the colonized African people who lived in rural areas, and more specifically, that it failed to encourage agricultural development. The present study examines in detail the bases for such criticisms. It begins by exploring the themes of colonial education policy as stated in the Phelps-Stakes reports and the Memorandum of 1925 from the colonial office. It focuses on the administration’s increased interest in agricultural education at this time, and the assumptions about the proper role and abilities of Africans which underlay this. But in contrast to policy statements which stressed the importance of agricultural education was the day-to-day bias of the Territory’s schools toward training clerks and teachers. More often than not, agriculture education assumed second place however. With the economic crisis of the 1930s, however, educators were forced to look more seriously at agricultural education as a possible solution to high African unemployment. Accordingly, several government central schools were converted into rural schools; village schools became farmer training rather than academic preparatory institutions. However, the hoped for influx of school leavers into small hold farming did not occur. Wage employment, on the other hand, continued and even increased its popularity. By the end of World War II, colonial educators in Tanganyika finally admitted the defeat of their scheme to produce a rural vanguard of subservient literate farmers. They readjusted their priorities to filling the short term needs for Africans for local and central government needs. They also recognized the need for a longer term solution to the school leave unemployment problem, and so instituted a new type of agriculture curriculum in the schools. The study concludes by comparing President Nyerere’s Education for Self Reliance and specifically his views or agricultural education, with colonial education policy in the period from 1920 to 1950. The study attempts in this way to shed some historical light on some of the problems in Tanzania education to day
Education, Agricultural education, Tanganyika
Saul, E. P. (1977) Colonial education in Tanganyika, 1920- 1950: a historical critique of agricultural education, Masters dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at