Page 2, 5th August 1960

5th August 1960
Page 2
Page 2, 5th August 1960 — EDUCATION AND AFRICAN NEEDS

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Locations: Ashes


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From the Earl of Craven

SIR,-I read with interest Mr. Michael J. Gregg's letter on Catholic schools and others in Nigeria. It bears out a lot of what I have already heard but unfortunately have not been able to see for myself.

There are some problems in colonial administration which are becoming ever more difficult to reconcile with our methods of approach. I think they are matters of such concern and difficulty that we are unlikely to solve them on our own.

The first is the great number of students who go abroad to foreign Universities. There are more Nigerian students in West Germany than in the whole of the Commonwealth, excluding England, and this to my mind seems to be one of the greatest problems of our education of the depressed areas.

The other side of the picture is equally bleak if not more so; thousands of African students going behind the Iron Curtain to find an education which is in their eyes untainted with colonialism and which seems to offer ncw, exciting and enlightening views. One day the products of this education are going to come home to roost, and it is not going to be long before this happens.

It would be nice to sec some enlightened action which will assist the foundation of new Universities in the Commonwealth with a scheme for staffing. On the other hand, there is an alternative possibility: if the Common Market were to come into effect. assistance in staffing could take place from other members of the Common Market and the other nations of free Europe.

The worst of it is that the ordinary man in the street in this country knows very little about these problems, and we really need a series of educative articles in the national and Catholic press setting out the true position.

I have heard it suggested that a scholarship system might enable some African boys to do their secondary schooling over here. Where this has been done the result seems extremely satisfactory.

But the real need is to provide for greater opportunities for African students in their own country. It would give them a closer tic with the cultural life of that country and they would have greater understanding of it.

It would be interesting to know what France does in her colonial educative services, and it must he pointed out that what is really needed by the Africans is the industrial skills which can only be found in European communities.

I would also like to suggest that the Catholic Truth Society produce a pamphlet on the relationship between education in other countries of the Commonwealth and how this would tie in or be improved by entering into the Common Market. The Catholic press has a great role to play in this problem of education. We do not wish to preach to the converted, but the fact that Catholics would gain a knowledge of this subject would in itself add to the nation's accumulative knowledge.

It is a great English tragedy that our leaders and those in positions of authority know little about these deep human problems touching the underdeveloped nations.

Another problem which is causing Christian educationalists in parts of Africa. certainly in Nigeria. a lot of concern is the English education officer's preference for State schools; the reason that they prefer State education is to ease administrative problems.

But the extraordinary thing is that with State education there always comes talk of the difficulty in discipline. but on the other hand the denominational schools seem to have no such problem. A reason for this could be that a denominational school is by its nature a

community with a definite ethos, whereas a Government school has nothing to appeal to but a windy nationalism.

It is suggested that problems in State schooling can be cured by the formation of student committees: those who run these establishments consider that these committees are just another means to manufacture grievances, which magnify the trouble all over again.

Craven Almond Wood Farm, Five Ashes, Sussex.

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