Nthebe Molope’s debut book on the history of black education in Africa, An Evolutionary Review on Black Education: A Travel Through Time And Into Our Future, takes a critical look at the state of South Africa’s education system today and endeavours to retrace where it went wrong, and offer solutions for its restoration.
The book is organised around three themes where the author firstly looks at African knowledge developments in the pre-colonial era. Here, Molope argues that the continent’s first knowledge systems were far advanced than what the “Global North” would later tell of Africa, and consequently robbed of advancing and contributing to the education of Africans.
The author secondly looks at the advent of missionary education and later Bantu education in South Africa. He explores how the intentions of this policy robbed Africans of fair learning, and a chance at pursuing successful future livelihoods. However, this system espoused merits that should be acknowledged, which now regularly inform murmurings of it ranking better than today’s education system that is riddled with problems. Chief among these is the lack of functionally literate children that it produces. Molope delves into this in the third theme of the book looking at South Africa’s current education developments.
He lastly uses the book to appreciate those in the teaching profession and encourages their strides in re-establishing the glory of black education. Molope identifies individuals like Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, who is a celebrated mathematician and maths teacher, and the current vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT). The late Professor Bongani Mayosi also from UCT, feature in this list. But the story is incomplete with the exclusion of civil society. In this regard, Molope recognises the work and contribution of NGO facilities such as Sci-Bono and various other projects (often subject-specific like for Maths). He urges for their continuation for the betterment of (black) education.
Audience members took the opportunity to engage Molope on issues of curriculum design, and the debate on de-colonised education in the question and answers segment of the launch.