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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Teaching Africans to be French? France's 'civilising mission' and the establishment of a public education system in French West Africa, 1903-30
Author:Chafer, TonyISNI
Year:2001
Periodical:Africa: rivista trimestrale di studi e documentazione
Volume:56
Issue:2
Pages:190-209
Language:English
Geographic terms:French-speaking Africa
West Africa
France
Subjects:colonialism
educational history
Abstract:The French colonial authorities, in establishing a public education system in French West Africa (Afrique occidentale franšaise, AOF) in 1903 sought to break with the assimilationist tradition and redefine the content of the civilizing mission in such a way as to empty it of much of its cultural content through a policy of adapted education. Adapted education was nevertheless still supposed to be civilizing and modernizing, albeit in a more restricted economic and moral sense. This article examines how the establishment of a public education system in French West Africa and the education policies that were pursued by the French revealed some of the uncertainties and ambiguities of France's self-appointed 'civilizing mission' in Africa. In particular, it shows how the decision to make education a central arm of colonial policy through the establishment of an official school system which would serve the needs of the colonial administration was inherently contradictory with the civilizing mission. The result was that Africans ultimately rejected adapted education and the redefinition of France's civilizing mission that it implied, regarding it as an attempt to retard African development and maintain Africans in a state of subordination to Europeans. Notes, ref., sum. in French and Italian.
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