Education Policy and the Development of the Colonial State in the Belgian Congo, 1916-1939.
Dunkerley, Marie Elizabeth
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To enable the author to publish papers from the thesis.
Taking the transformative potential of education as its starting point, this thesis analyses Belgian attempts to use schools policy to strengthen the hegemony of the colonial state in the Congo during the interwar years. Through an empirical treatment of the development of the colonial school system, based largely on archival research, the study pursues two main contentions. The first is that the Belgian colonial authorities played a far more direct role in formulating and implementing education policy than is often believed. The second is that the state authorities’ interest in education was defined both by the economic imperative of colonial exploitation, which compelled them to train skilled workers, and the fear that access to education would fuel potential sedition. Six thematic chapters demonstrate that this paradox of necessity and fear shaped Belgian education policy in the Congo, looking at the reasons behind the fear of potential unrest, and at its ramifications. This thesis argues that these pressures caused the Belgian colonial authorities to try to mould Congolese society using education as a tool, by using specific streams of instruction to inculcate certain groups of Congolese, such as auxiliaries, healthcare workers, and women, with the principles of colonial rule. The thesis also considers how these policies were put into practice, focusing on relations between the colonial authorities and the Catholic and Protestant mission societies, and evaluates their efficacy. Moreover, this thesis attempts to establish, where possible, the reactions of colonized Congolese to European educational provision. Having analysed these issues, this thesis concludes that the colonial education system in the Congo during the interwar years failed to fulfil its main purpose and perpetuate Belgian colonial rule.
PhD in History