Various political parties, civil rights groups, ministerial spokespeople and columnists
support the view that one of South Africa's leading challenges is overcoming the
scarring legacy that the Bantu Education Act of 1953 left on the face of the country.
In the light of this a need arises to revisit the position and place of Bantu Education in
the current contested interpretation of its legacy.
It is apparent from the vast literature on this topic that academics are not in
agreement about whether or not the 1953 education legislation was the watershed
moment for ensuring a cheap labour force. On the one hand it would seem that the
general consensus is that 1953 was indeed a turning point in this regard thus a
largely traditional view. However, on the other hand, another school of thought
becomes apparent, which states that securing a cheap, unskilled labour force was
already on the agenda of the white electorate preceding the formalisation of the
Bantu Education Act. This latter school of academics propose that their theory be
coined as a Marxist one.
In examining these two platforms of understanding, traditional and Marxist, regarding
Bantu Education and the presumption that it was used as a tool to ensure a cheap,
unskilled labour force, the aim of this study is two-fold. First, to contextualise these
two stances historically; and second to examine the varying approaches regarding
the rationalisation behind Bantu Education respectively by testing these against the
rationale apparent in the architects of the Bantu Education system. This includes
analysing primary sources in the form of parliamentary debates and contemporary