Education for Africans

September 28, 1960

Report Outline
Extent of Education in Tropical Africa
European Influence on African Education
Growth of Higher Education in Africa

Extent of Education in Tropical Africa

Urgent Educational Needs in African States

Emergence into independent statehood of a large number of former African colonies of European powers has brought into prominence a conspicuous failure of colonialism in the Dark Continent. None of the European powers with holdings in Africa put into effect a broad educational policy aimed both to give the masses the rudiments of an education and to train native leaders. The Belgians, while providing sufficient elementary education to raise the rate of literacy in the Congo to 55 per cent, almost entirely neglected higher education—at cost of the chaos and confusion that have reigned in that country since it became independent last July 1.

The transition to independence has been made more easily in former British and French colonies, primarily because elite native groups have had the benefits of higher education and have had some training in self-government. But in these lands, by contrast to the Congo, there has been little mass education. Nearly 90 per cent of the 35 million people of the British Federation of Nigeria, which on Oct. 1 will become Africa's largest independent state, are illiterate.

Nigeria, like many other of the newly independent African countries, is rich in natural resources but critically short of educated manpower. Everywhere in tropical Africa today there is crying demand for trained native leaders of every kind. None of the new nations can develop its potentialities to the full without a massive educational effort. The need is universally recognized among the native leaders and increasingly among their peoples. Averell Harriman reported, Sept. 20, that every African head of state with whom he talked on a recent tour named education as his country's first requirement. Founding of universities is said to be regarded in Africa today as the building of steel mills is regarded in China.

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Education Policy
Humanitarian Assistance
Regional Political Affairs: Africa
Research in Education