Schooling in the early Orange Free State: Inception to Union, 1836 to 1910
Le Roux, Cheryl S
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Schooling is generally affected by prevailing social, political and ideological trends. In this article, the provision of schooling for European children, mainly of Dutch Voortrekker descent, is examined through the years of settlement in the mid-1830s to the time of South Africa becoming a Union in 1910. This era spans four distinctive political periods, namely, the Voortrekker period and the Orange River Sovereignty under British rule (1836-1854), the independent Orange Free State Republic (1854-1900), the period of the Anglo-Boer War (also referred to as the South African War) when the region was under British Military and Crown rule (1899-1902), and the Orange River Colony under responsible government (1902-1910). The article traces the role played by the community and parents, the church and the state interchangeably or conjointly in the schooling of the youth, as well as the place of language and religion in education. It is deduced that the complex social, political, ideological and economic factors associated with the provisioning of schooling and the pivotal issues of language, religion and funding remain prime issues in multilingual and multicultural contexts. It is concluded that these issues that the Orange Free State schooling system contended with were but precursors to that which followed many years later in modern South African society, where education is currently in turmoil due to factors such as the language of instruction, cultural legacies and inequalities and funding issues.