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From the archive - 13.05.1977

Government pledges 'equal quality'

Government pledges 'equal quality'

The South African government's assessment of its black education policy after dissatisfied students sparked off last year's widespread unrest has resulted in major changes expected to materialise over the next two years. Black leaders, however, are divided over the reform.

In a key policy switch, the minister of Bantu education, Mr MC Botha, has committed to the quality of education for all race groups, saying his department aimed to "make the most of the potential of the children entrusted to its care".

Included in the development programme is a pledge to provide black secondary pupils with free textbooks by 1978. Black parents can also expect to have more say in the running of the schools.

The government has promised to open 20 adult education centres during the year, mainly to help teachers who wish to study further. This is part of a new deal for overworked black teachers which will only materialise "when state finances improve".

As a result of effective widespread school boycotts during last year's protests, the government now requires black parents to sign a statement ensuring that children attend school for four years.

"There is now growing realisation on the part of the government," said an editorial in The World, the country's largest black daily. "But the future of this country must be completely rewritten. It is through education that our liberation will become meaningful."

However, many black leaders feel that the changes are too few and too late. Ministers from Cape Town's black township have condemned what they see as minor concessions, while "the detested Bantu education system continues with inadequate adaptation".

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