Introduction: Education as (Post) Colonial Control in the Literature of Zimbabwe and Singapore

Valerie Braman, Class of 2000.5, English 119, Brown University

Part 1 of "Education as a Means of (Post) Colonial Control in the Literature of Zimbabwe and Singapore: A Theoretical and Literary Analysis"

We first learn of our world, its boundaries, possibilities, and its nature through our contact with education. In school, from both teachers and peers, we learn what is normal, and what is not; what is acceptable, and what is not; what is valued, and what is not; further, we learn who is and is not these things. We learn how to relate to other people, how to view ourselves, and how our society and culture are structured. The role of the educator is a particularly powerful one in terms of the capacity for influencing how generations of students and citizens envision themselves, their families, their communities, their country, and the relationship of these entities to the world in which they are situated.

Control and manipulation of the educational systems and practices of colonized territories, then, becomes a particularly powerful and enduring means of ensuring that children and their families are inculcated with political, social, and cultural philosophies that are congruent to the desires and aspirations of the ruling powers. The primary concern of a conquering nation is to preserve and expand its own power over the peoples and territories it controls. The educational practices and institutions established by colonial powers throughout their periods of domination served the particular function of reinforcing the subjectification of the indigenous peoples upon whom they were imposed. Several themes and recurring practices in the educational programs and policies of the British in their colonies, as recognized and challenged by postcolonial theorists, serve to underscore the particular power that the colonized subject's educational experience plays in the maintenance of colonial control. These include

  1. The establishment of the primacy of the English language its literature, and scholarly achievements and, by extension, English societal and cultural values

  2. The positioning of British-styled education as the only means of bettering oneself or one's family's economic and social situation

  3. The creation of the educational hybrid, who is detached and alienated both from his own culture by means of his English education, and from recognition in English society by means of his skin color and nation of origin

Education as a Means of (Post) Colonial Control in the Literature of Zimbabwe and Singapore: A Theoretical and Literary Analysis

Postcolonial OV discourseov [Singapore] Zimbabwe OV