Bantustan education history: the 'progressivism' of Bophutatswana's Primary Education Upgrade Programme (PEUP), 1979-1988

SOURCE: South African Historical Journal
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2013
TITLE AUTHOR(S): L.Chisholm
KEYWORDS: APARTHEID, BOPHUTATSWANA, EDUCATION, EDUCATION REFORM, PRIMARY EDUCATION
DEPARTMENT: Education and Skills Development (ESD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 7684

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Abstract

The historiography of South Africa's apartheid-era Bantustans has commonly focused on their repressive role. New approaches to this history have suggested that some undertook educational initiatives that broke with the dominant apartheid model. Bophutatswana's Primary Education Upgrading Programme (PEUP) was such an initiative. This article focuses on the actors, origins, aims and practices of the programme and assessments by contemporaries and its strengths and weaknesses. Using documentary evidence on the project, interviews with its initiators and participants in the programme, as well as assessments by contemporaries at the time, it argues that the project involved a contradictory alliance of conservative Bantustan leaders and Christian liberals. The project drew on progressivist, child-centred ideas borrowed from Europe and the United Kingdom but these were encased within the broader ethnic apartheid project and served a legitimatory purpose. PEUP included both innovative aspects within the context of Bantu Education but also continuities with its broader ethnic purposes. Miserly budgets, Bantustan politics, and limitations specific to progressivism ultimately undermined the success of the PEUP. Nonetheless, the project survived in memories of teachers.