By Sarah Meny-Gibert


In this article I explore the authority of the state (and its “infrastructural power”) in school education in the Eastern Cape bantustans during and after “homeland” rule. I focus my narrative on the period of the 1970s, when the Transkei obtained independence and the education systems expanded substantially in both the Ciskei and Transkei. I will show that the education administrations in the Ciskei and Transkei retained weak control over the expansion of the education system, and weakly and unevenly supervised the work of teachers and the allocation of education resources in schools. Professional teacher associations played a role in containing protest against the bantustan state and the policy of separate development, but they could not cajole the compliance of a demoralised and stressed teaching population as education massified in both bantustans. Further, the education administrations struggled to regulate social relations in a way that supported the routine provision of education. While the force of a despotic “state” could sometimes be sharply felt when teachers voiced political dissent in the Transkei and Ciskei, many schools were governed with a good deal of autonomy from the bantustans’ administrations. In the post-apartheid period, the state administration remains weak in authority in the education sector. I explore some of the reasons for this continuity and its implications for education provision in the Eastern Cape today. While I make my argument for weak state infrastructural power in the case of the Transkei and Ciskei, I show that my argument may have broader relevance to other bantustans and other sectors (i.e. apart from education) in the country.

Read the full article in African Historical Review