The Segregation Fallacy and Other Papers - The Financial Strangulation of Native Education

From the book: The Segregation Fallacy and Other Papers by D.D.T Jabavu

A great lover of the Bantu was once asked what, in his opinion, were the three greatest needs of the South African Natives, and he answered '' The first is education; the second is education; and the third is, yet more education." This statement implies a great deal more than is realised by many who favour or oppose the education of the Bantu. Whether we like it or not the fact stands that if the Bantu are to be made self-supporting' and placed in a position to increase economic production, to provide more intelligent labour, to give the right expression and interpretation of their ambitions, to realise their value of personality, and generally to forward the interests of civilisation, - the instrument of development will be education. It is an important factor in the adjustment of amicable race-relations. Once an interest is aroused in the modern wonders of civilisation by contact with the Western peoples, the march of African education cannot be arrested by any artificial barriers. We all witness a sort of conscious or unconscious process of education among the blacks employed as labourers for Europeans. Nor is Native education a danger to Europeans but rather a power in the development of the country. In fact it is now inevitable because the Native has made up his mind to get it; and as one writer says, the question is not, what kind of education shall we give him, but what will he accept from us? The people are keen, and so are the teachers and the children. In a school taken at random near our district, with a roll of 289, the average attendance of pupils, many of whom travel, several miles to school, is 260. The manager is a Native and there is no compulsion for attending. One of the teachers, a man with a family and educating his children earns a salary of £64 a year. To support his family on this miserable salary he is forced to exist almost on the point of starvation. This is the condition of things in the Cape Province which has always been - the most liberal in the Union towards Native education because almost the whole of the Hut-Tax of 1921 was devoted to this purpose; while in Natal only £49.000 was thus spent out of a hut-tax of £294,000; in the Transvaal it was £46,000 out of £420,000 and in the Orange Free State £5.000 out of £73,000 in the Cape, and injustice in the North, a position characteristic of the political and other relations between white and black in South Africa.

This tradition is so constant that whenever the Union Government undertakes to make a change towards uniformity in Native affairs the tendency is to penalise the Cape Natives under the plea of benefitting the Northern Natives. The finance of Native education in both pre-Union and post-Union years provides a remarkable history of repression and a policy of almost consistent strangulation.

To show that we are not indulging in erratic exaggeration, we shall make a few extensive quotations: -

The report of the 193.3 Provincial Finances Commission which, read as a. whole, cannot be accused of being unduly Negrophilist, contains the following' pregnant paragraph: -

"When it is considered that; die expenditure upon the education of Native and Coloured children is admittedly inadequate, it is impossible to come to any other conclusion than that the expenditure upon European education is too high."

Also,

"This amount expended (on Native education) is most; inadequate: there is a grave shortage in the number of schools; accommodation in existing schools is insufficient; the number of pupils per teacher is, in many cases unduly high; the salaries paid.' Native teachers are extremely low." And, "A definite amount of grant-in-aid should be fixed as a grant per pupil; the grant for the training of Native teachers should he the same as the grant for the training of Coloured teachers" (which works out at £5 5s. in the Cape.) If these paragraphs mean anything they mean that the Native is equally paying for European education, over and above his own.

We now quote an eminent authority that in the course of an article that appeared in the "Fort Beaufort Advocate and Adelaide Opinion", 15 th December 1927, remarked:

"In 1923 the Minister of Finance met the four Provincial Administration at Durban to consider among other maters the financing of education. It was then agreed that an annual per capita grant should be paid from the Union Treasury European scholars (£14 for scholars in the and £2 more for Transvaal scholars), each province to budget for its numbers annually. In this arrangement Coloured education was included grant being fixed at £5 5s. In this way an automatic provision was made to meet the expenditure on European and Coloured Education as it increased with increase of population.

" But Native education was not included in this automatic arrangement instead, a policy was introduced which lifted the future development of Native education out of the channel along which it had hitherto been borne. The total cost of Native education throughout the Union as met by the State as at 1921 was ascertained, and it was agreed that only that annual amount should be paid out of the Union Treasury. Henceforth whatever funds would be needed for the expansion of education must be raised by direct Native taxation, in other words from the Development Fund.

" Under the terms of the agreement White and Coloured education is so situated that the means for its will be provided automatically and pari passu with the development of the country's resources and the increase of its population, both White and Coloured. Native education, the educa­tion of most backward and poorest element of the population, has been withdrawn from this stream of progress, and the whole burden of its expansion placed on the backward and poorest population itself. The sum of £340,000 allowed annually from the Treasury is to be all the return to Native education and Native uplift from the very large contribution paid by the Natives in the form of indirect taxation and incalculable contri­butions made by their low-paid services to the wealth of the country."

Consequences of the New Policy

The Cape Suffers from the Official Miscalculation.

The figure ascertained as the amount paid by the Government for all Native education in the Union at the date of the agreement was £340,000. In the calculation of the Cape Province expenditure very unfortunately two items were not included. The one was the amount of £19,000 which had been paid by the Transkei General Council towards-teachers' salaries, and which lapsed as a charge against that Council when the poll-tax was levied. The other was a sum of £615,000, being the cost of the inspection of Native schools, making altogether £34.000.

When the Development Fund came into operation it was immediately saddled with the advances made towards increasing the salaries of teachers, and for the expansion of 'Native education which at 21st March, 1926, totalled £220,000. This amount the Fund was required to pay back within three years, a period later extended to five. The Cape Education Department was then credited with the £30,000, which it had previously been receiving as a loan from the Treasury. It also received a sum of £16,500 for development. This sum of £16,500 represents all the means that the Cape Education Department received for the extension of Native education between 1921 and 1926.

The position thus is that Native education in the Cape Province, where it is most advanced and where natural expansion is most insistent receives £34,000--less than it was entitled to in accordance with what was the intention of the Durban agree­ment. For this deprivation no justification what­soever has been offered. Through what was essentially a misunderstanding between the Union Treasury and the Provincial Administration Cape Native education has been penalised with the loss of 14% of its revenue from the Treasury, and it is apparently intended to continue that deprivation so long as the Durban agreement holds. Towards this loss of £34,000 must of course go the sum of £16,000 received from the Development Fund, the result revealing by a simple process of subtraction that Native education in the Cape is being positively checked and interrupted.

New Schools Unobtainable

Education is only one of the burdens imposed upon the Development Funds. From its income is expected money for agricultural schools, hospitals and other medical and public services, and for great variety of efforts indispensable to the advancement of a population so backward and necessitous.

In the Cape Province of £290,000 Native children of school age only 120,000 are given the opportunity of education. For the whole Union the Native children of school age who are under instruction is only 24 per cent. In the Cape Province alone two hundred or more additional schools are clamant for aid, and could be put upon the list of aided schools at once were funds available. There are many schools in Bechuanaland and Pondoland, which were started by local funds, but which now look to the Development Fund for their support in accordance with the promises and assurances given when the poll tax was imposed. But we are in­formed that the Educational Department cannot meet them. The Natives of the Transvaal and the Free State cannot be given their opportunity of going forward except at the expense of their more advanced, but equally deserving', neighbours in the Cape, and it may be in Natal. Schools are in­adequately staffed, while young Native men and women who qualified as teachers, and whose parents have sacrificed to have them trained, in the expectation that the process of growth that had been normal up to 1931 would continue, are having difficulty in finding employment. Very much needed courses for the training of infant school teachers-specialized teachers for the stage at which so much of Native education becomes sterilized-cannot be established. At every point industrial training is hampered. A supply of books and equipment sufficient for reasonable cannot be provided.

Maintenance Grants to be Withdrawn

In pursuance of the policy of Sir George Gray, the Cape Colony Education Ordinance of 1865 encouraged the developing of industrial training schools by instituting maintenance grants for industrial scholars, authorising an annual allowance of £15 for each male and £12 for each female in training. Later, in order to secure a sufficient supply of fully-trained teachers maintenance grants, £13 each per annum for males and £10 for females, were instituted at the training schools, following the practice in use in white training schools. The apportioning of these Native grants was not determined by any Regulation, and only a pro­portion of the students were taken into account in allocating them. The practice therefore arose and ultimately was recognised by the Department of education that the maintenance grant was not put to the credit of the account of the individual student in whose name it was payable, but the total amount of these maintenance grants was used to meet part of the expenses of the school beyond what was covered by the salary grants themselves.

The missionary superintendents do for the Natives the work which the school boards perform for Whites and the missionaries do it without expense to the State. Even the stationery for communicating with the Department is not granted to them. Except in a very few cases no rent is allowed for the buildings which they have erected at the cost of many thousands of pounds although the paying of such rent is authorised in the Regulations. No assistance in the way of loans is available to them for the putting up of new buildings. Not only have they no hope of relief from the burdens ever becoming heavier which they have been carrying hitherto, but in order to provide for other needs it is now proposed to withdraw from the institutions their maintenance grants, which have been their standby for nearly half a century. To cover this loss it is suggested that the Native training institutions increase their fees by an amount of 20% to 25%. In their impoverished circumstances the Natives, who have already been required to pay a new tax educational and other developments, are to be the asked to accept another much larger burden. The missionaries are to be the agents in imposing it although they know the distress prevailing over the Cis-kei area and that to a most deplorable extent the Natives are in debt.

We submit that it should now be recognised that the Natives and the missionaries who are labouring for them can be pushed too far. There is a break­ing point, and that is being reached.

The General Situation

Provision for the extension of Native Education is made out of the Native Development Account, which is created under Acts 41 and 46 of 1925.

Under Act 41 Section 12 "There shall be established a special account to be styled ' the Native Development Account' and to be administered by the Minister and there shall be paid into that account (a) one-fifth of the amount of the general tax, (b) any local tax or Native quitrent collected.

Section 13 proceeds: - Subject to subsection (3) of this section the amounts standing to the credit of the Native Development Account shall be applied at the discretion of the Minister, in consultation with the Native Affairs Commission, to anyone or more of the following purposes: -

(a) For the maintenance, extension and improve­ment of educational facilities amongst Natives;

(b) For the further development and the advance­ment of the welfare of Natives......... Provided that any moneys paid into the Native development account under paragraph b of section twelve be expended in such area within the Province in respect of which they have been collected as may be prescribed.

There is a further provision dealing with the financing of Native Education.

Act 46, Section 3, reads as follows: -

(1) There shall be paid to the Provinces grants in respect of Native Education. Commencing with the financial year 1926/27 such grants shall be paid from a Native development account to be established to which account an annual contribution of £340,000 should be made in and after that year from the Con­solidated Revenue Fund.

(2) In respect of the financial year 1925/26 there shall be paid to each Province from the Con­solidated Revenue Fund the following grants:

Cape of Good Hope £240,000; Natal, £49,000, Transvaal £46,000 and O.F.S. £5000; Provided that if any Province does not in the financial year 1925/29 expend on Native education the sum allotted to it the grant thereto shall be reduced accordingly.

(3) After the establishment of the said Native Development Account grants in respect of the maintenance, extension and improvement of educational facilities among Natives and for the adjustment of salaries of Native teachers shall be defrayed therefrom subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by the Governor-General after consultation between the Minister of Native Affairs and the Administrator concerned.

Under this last mentioned Act (Section 2) the provision for education of Europeans and non-Europeans other than Natives is separated from the provision for Native Education detailed above, the former being budgetted for on the basis of the number of Europeans and Non-Europeans other than Native who are receiving education while the fund for Native Education is determined before­hand and irrespective of their numbers.

Under the provisions of the Acts referred to the expansion of education to cover the 75% of Native children still out of school is made a charge upon direct Native taxation. This appears to be unjust discrimination, and imposes a burden upon the Natives, which they cannot be expected to sustain.

While European and non-European education except that of Natives is to be budgetted for in the usual way, Native education is laid upon a procrustean bed, and if its requirements exceed the definitely specified grants, its demands must be reduced to fit them.

It appears to have been the intention of the legislature that in apportioning the grants from the Development Fund, the claim of each Province to one-fifth of the total of the Poll Tax paid by its Native population should be considered, but that principle has not been observed in the grants actually made. In the Cape Province, where most progress in Native Education has been made, expansion is more rapid. In consequence the Cape Province is placed in the position of seeming to stand in the way of the advancement of Native Education in the other Provinces, while indeed the expansion and the natural development of its Native Education is being made to mark time, if not being actually pushed back, so that Native Education in the other Provinces may come into line with it."

Again from a memorandum prepared by a committee of the Ciskeian Missionary Council, in co-operation with the Transvaal, we excerpt the following: -

"Whereas all education other than Native is financed out of the Consolidated Fund upon the basis of the number of children at school, (attendance being compulsory) Native education depends for its support, irrespectively of the number of children at school or the school popula­tion, upon an arbitrarily fixed contribution from the Consolidated Fund and share only of one fifth of the General Native Tax.

It is difficult to justify this differential method of financing Native Education and other social services connected with Natives. By it the maintenance, expansion and development of essential services are made a burden upon the yield from direct, taxation of Natives. Such a system deprives the poorest class of the community of any share in the progressive general well-being of the country to which, with other classes of the community, it may be held by their labour and other ways very substantially to contribute.

It would appear therefore that while the new system has reacted to the benefit of smaller and less developed systems, it has not provided for the normal growth and development of the long established and comparatively complex system of the Cape Province.

When however the number of children not in school is taken into account, viz. 176,000 in the Cape, 149,000 in Natal, 169,000 in the Transvaal and 51,000 in the O.F.S., a total of 545,000, it will be obvious that the new - system of financing Native Education depending for its elasticity upon only one factor, viz., the increase in the share of the one-fifth of the General Native Tax, will be unable to provide even the necessary minimum number of primary schools whether in the Northern Provinces or in the Cape. Were attendance at school compulsory upon Natives as it is upon Europeans, even taking for granted the continuance of the present system whereby the burden of pro­viding school buildings falls upon the Churches and Missionary Societies, the whole of the General Native Tax would be insufficient to meet the cost.

Setting aside compulsory education for Natives as at present impracticable, though all the arguments employed in urging compulsory educa­tion for Europeans might be equally well applied to Natives, and even with added force, we have still two measures of the inadequacy of the present provision for Native Education, viz.: -

(a) the number of schools at present existing but unsupported by Government.

(b) the number of schools projected but unable to open on account of the absence of aid.

In April of this year a year a National scale of salaries for Native teachers, drawn up by the Native Affairs Department, was brought into operation as far as the available funds permitted. This scale represents an advance upon salaries previously paid in the Northern provinces but is lower than salaries paid to certain classes of teachers in the Cape. From inquiries it appears that an additional £5000 is needed to put present salaries on the national scale in the O.F.S. and additional £75,000 is required in the Cape to put the Native teacher in a position in which he could live in a respectable decency relation to the salaries paid to Coloured teachers.

Under this head an additional £80,000 is required. Native Education by the Churches in erecting, equipping and maintaining in efficient condition the institutions for the training of Native teachers and of late years secondary schools. The building for these have been erected in most cases from funds supplied by missionary societies or by churches labouring in this country and represent a contribution totaling many thousands of pounds.

With the exception of negligence sums in lieu of rent in new buildings recently erected in the Cape and of late years grants in aid for furnishing and equipment, lighting varying from ½ to ¾ of the cost, no contribution have been made by any provincial administration for the erection, repairs, administration, furnishing, equipment, lighting or rates and taxes of those institutions. If funds were available and if the practice sanctioned ordinance in the Cape were made general retrospective, it is calculated that at least £10,000 per annum would be required at present to provide funds to meet a 3% allowance on capital cost in lieu of rent on Institution buildings used for educational purposes.

Contributions ought also to be made in respect of essential services connected with institutions, such as lighting, sanitation, repairs and administration.

Summarising what appear to has the most immediate necessities and attempting to estimate their probable cost we get the following table: -

Annual cost of 1500 new schools

immediately required, say                           £110,000

Additions to teachers salaries, say              80,000

Supervision, say                                        7,500

Allowances to Institutions, say                   10,000

                                                                          ______

                                                                         Total £201,500

Such figures are merely illustrative of the disabilities under which Native education is labouring at present. They cannot claim to re­present the total cost of effectively meeting and remedying the situation that has grown up in Native education through a long number of years. They may be held to represent fairly the cost of the immediate steps in advance. It is certain that the annual cost of Native education will, in com­mon with other systems, be an increasing one. What has been demonstrated is that the amount yielded by the present system of financing Native education is not sufficient to meet current needs and is totally unable to provide for normal ex­pansion even without the application of compulsion to Native education.

The fact that the sums allocated to Native education are inadequate may be fairly inferred from the low per capita cost as compared with the cost per European child. In 1923 - 24 the average cost per European child in the Union was £17 18s. 6d. as against, costs per Native child of 18s. 5d. for O. F. S., £1 12s. 10d. for the Transvaal, £2 1s. 0d. for Natal and £2 8s. 5d. for the Cape.

The only satisfactory way of providing funds for Native education will be found to be by per capita grants out of general revenue, budgetted for from year to year as for European, Coloured and Indian education. Owing however to differences in the development of the Provincial systems no uniform rate would be fair to the older established systems. Schools would require to be classified and grants paid on an ascending scale in respect of each child in each school division, taking into account infant and primary schools, industrial schools, teacher-training schools and secondary schools. These per capita grants should bear a definite relation to grants given in respect of European pupils in similar schools.

If, for any reason, it is not practicable at present to place Native education upon a similar basis to European and Coloured, it remains to con­sider what alteration in the present system can be secured in order to afford relief. Under this system there is a certain advantage discernible in deriving the funds for Native education from two sources (a) the Consolidated Fund and (b) the Native General Tax. The first secures that minimum revenue will be available, but unfortu­nately it is constant in face of rapidly developing needs. The smaller factor has to bear all the increase and it is quite evident that it is unable to do this. It does not seem fair and just that while the contribution of the Consolidated Fund should remain constant at £340,000, that fund should benefit to the extent of four-fifths of any increase in the General Tax beyond what it received when the system was initiated.

In 1926 - 27 the revenue paid into the Native Development Account (including the £340,000 from the Consolidated Fund) amounted to £579,761. This indicates that one-fifth of the General Tax was £239,761 so that, if services other than Education are to he financed out of the Native Development Account it would appear that that account requires at the present moment to be credited with two-fifths and not one-fifth of the General Tax.

While an increase in the fraction would afford much needed relief, there is no guarantee that a similar situation as at present obtains would not arise in the near future. There ought therefore, if the present system of financing Native Education is to be persisted in, to be stated, opportunities of revising the fraction of the General Tax credited to the Native Development Account in order to ensure that starvation or restriction of any necessary Native service is not brought about,"

From the foregoing quotations it will be seen that whilst the Northern provinces will derive new benefits as compared with previous years when they were callously neglected, the improvements are to be made at the cost of the Cape Natives who are to lose a sum of £34,000 and, worse than that, to have their progress arbitrarily arrested and to stand for ever at the point it had reached by 1922. Then Native education in the Union as a whole is to mark until doomsday. As the Native Development is already earmarked for a multitude of purposes other than education, this means that no new money is to be available, no new schools to be opened in the Cape, no fresh teachers to be employed- indeed some are already teaching classes of over seventy pupils! - in a word, no more forward advance.

The Native Affairs Commission stated in 1925 that these changes were due to the fact the Cape Province had too many Native schools and that the salaries of white teachers in them were too high in view of the meager funds of Native taxation.

Against this the present writer, as a member of a deputation to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance during the same year, stated that there was no valid reason for the Natives to be taxed for their education and teachers salaries in as much as they contributed on a parity with other citizens to the general revenue of the country, out of which the Europeans and Coloureds and Indian educated. Over and above the ordinary contribution of indirect taxation a considerable proportion the income tax derived from the gold sold mines and the diamond fields was possibly only because of the abnormally low wages of unskilled black labour which was equal to only a fourth of the cost of unskilled labour in Europe and America. This money had always been ascribed to whites and used for whites whilst it was derived in the last analysis to low-paid black labour. The blacks had a just claim on it for their education if justice were to be the governing principle. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance on being challenged on this issue were unable to refute this claim. In their inability to rebut it they stated that the money being now unavailable was being applied elsewhere. That was the end of the matter that day till now. Such is the position of the black man in South Africa. His obvious way out is incessant organisation and propaganda in co-operation with sympathetic Europeans.

The case of the Native teachers and their salaries is a palpable outrage on South African civilisation. Illiterate policemen and other urban Natives whose qualifications for work cost little, are actually better paid than the teacher who has spent years of extreme sacrifice to obtain his certificate.

Comparisons between the earnings of a teacher and those of an ordinary uneducated town Native disclose a surprising and incredibly absurd state of affairs. According to the scale launched in the Orange Free State during 1925 the ultimate position that a Native teacher may aspire to reach is the headship of a school with an average attendance of 414 children, with nine assistants who will be paid £24 for the lowest assistant, £78 for the highest, and he as head gets a maximum salary of £90 without pension and without a Good Service Allowance! No matter how long he remains a teacher he cannot hope to get beyond that figure. On the contrary an illiterate Native policeman is paid £144 - without being saddled with the respon­sibility of leading a life of culture as a moral leader of his people. A pupil, dismissed from school for a serious moral offence more often than not becomes eventually better off economically than the teacher who by dint of self-denial and painstaking training and years of toil achieves a creditable character and a record of successful work at college. The Native teachers being expected to lead exemplary lives as pioneers of a new civilisation, are today compelled by their niggardly salaries to exist only in a squalid social environment, with their souls tormented by the obsession of constant debts to store-keepers because they are the worst paid section of the intelligent Native population as compared with uneducated hotel waiters, and porters. On the side of women it is common knowledge that unschooled maid-servants and nursemaids in Cape Town and Johannesburg earn much more than what the fully qualified Native female teachers command in salary. This is a travesty of moral justice. It is to the credit of the Native teachers that, notwithstanding their life of privation, often of penury, misled by empty government promises of relief, they have exercised patience and shown exemplary for bear and situation that could have easily driven less balanced people into acts of desperation. All their circumstances warrant a substantial improvement upon current rates of pay.

We here appeal to all sympathisers to join and help in the cause and knock at the doors of government until they are opened at long last.

The Segregation Fallacy