Loram's definition of education as planned by the powerful for the social construction of useful and 'good' Africans, along with his implicit concerns about bad or disruptive literate individuals, represented the views of many educationists during the colonial era. Such views, moreover, survived the end of colonial rule, re-emerging at the centre of shifting debates over how educational institutions and pedagogies should either persist or be challenged. Social utility defined education, not its specific content in reading, arithmetic, religious faith, business, or gardening. Struggles over educational planning were less over whether it was a form of social control than over what sort of future should be planned: either one in which educated elites led Africans towards a European-style model of civilization, or one rooted in an adapted form of education that emphasized established African identity and sought gradually to develop the masses in locally appropriate ways with an emphasis on community cohesion and social peace. Yet these alternative pathways only very partially capture the lived experiences of schoolchildren and teachers, parents and administrators, graduates and dropouts, in formal and informal schools across Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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Copyright © 2013 Oxford University Press. This chapter first appeared in The Oxford Handbook of Modern African History.

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