The Origins of Formal Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. Was British Rule More Benign?


British colonial rule has often been praised for its comparatively benign features, such as its support of local educational development. This study argues that the impact of British educational policies and investments on the supply of schooling in British Africa should not be overstated. Until 1940, mission schools, mainly run by African converts, provided the bulk of education at extremely low costs. Given the limited financial capacity of missionary societies, the Africanization of the mission was a prerequisite for rising enrolment rates and this only occurred in areas where the demand for Western education was high. The British happened to control most of these “fertile” areas.