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Wed, 07.01.1953

The Bantu Education Act is enacted

*On this date in 1953, the Bantu Education Act was enacted. Called Act No. 47 of 1953 and later renamed the Black Education Act 1953, it was a South African segregation law of the apartheid system.

Its major provision enforced racially separated educational facilities. Even universities became "tribal," and all but three missionary schools chose to close down when the government would no longer help to support their schools. Very few authorities continued using their finances to support education for native Africans. In 1959, that type of education was extended to "non-white" universities and colleges with the Extension of University Education Act.

The University College of Fort Hare was taken over by the government and degraded to being part of the Bantu education system. It is often debated that the policy of Bantu (African) education was to direct black or non-white youth to the unskilled labor market. However, Hendrik Verwoerd, the Minister of Native Affairs, claimed that the aim was to solve South Africa's "ethnic problems" by creating complementary economic and political units for different ethnic groups.

The Act was repealed in 1979 by the Education and Training Act, which continued the system of racially segregated education. It also eliminated discrimination in tuition fees and the segregated Department of Bantu Education. It allowed the use of native tongue education until the fourth grade and limited attendance at private schools. Segregation became unconstitutional after the introduction of the Interim Constitution in 1994, and the South African Schools Act 1996 repealed most sections of the Education and Training Act.

The Bantu Education Act created a separate, inferior education system for black students. This Act aimed to ensure that black South Africans would only ever be able to work as unskilled and semi-skilled laborers, even if they were intelligent enough to become skilled. This measure kept them the servants to white South Africans.

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