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Central to these developments, and reflecting the triumph of industry in the economy, was the emergence of the academic curriculum. This development, critically, did not go unnoticed in the mission school system. While the catechism retained a place to varying degrees in the church schools, depending on the denomination of the church, the curriculum everywhere in the region for African children was broadened to include reading and writing to reasonably high levels of proficiency. The colonial authorities, however, despite not placing significant resources at the disposal of African children, were suspicious of what the missionary curriculum was attempting.
The administration at the Cape was suspicious of what he was doing and also outraged that, not being a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, he had baptized members of this community (Maurice 1941, 151). He was forced to abandon his mission in 1744. But he had brought, in the limited space he had been given, a sense of possibility in the community. Remarkably, and somewhat contrary to the commentary of Maurice, who said that he “did not accomplish much,” almost 50 years later, when the Moravians returned to the settlement in 1792, this time with the permission of the authorities, “they found Hottentots (Khoikhoi) at Genadendal (Baviaan’s Kloof) who were able to read the Dutch language and were Christians” (Maurice 1951, 151).
The nature of the curriculum that was first deployed at the slave school, with its emphasis on religiosity, provided the template that was to be used for the next 200 years for all the schools that were to be established. Important for this discussion is how limited education historians’ engagement with this curriculum is. Malherbe (1925/1937), the country’s preeminent educational historian, presents this experience entirely through the lenses of the White liberal colonial historiography that emerges at the beginning of the twentieth century (Theal 1987).
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