The Reasons For Early School Calendar In Liberia - Part II

By Sonkarley Tiatun Beaie

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
November 14, 2007


4.0 Colonial Imprint On School Entry
The similar school entry schedule in many developing countries today was imposed on them by their respective European colonial masters. Some documented evidence is the scramble for Africa, during which era Africa was partitioned by European countries at the Berlin Conference. They, then, introduced their own style of administration in the respective controlled territories, thus marking the hallmarks of what had now become the cultural and political features in Africa.

The French, for instance, adopted a policy of assimilation , by which they hoped to turn the Africans into Frenchmen. The French leaders hoped that some day all of her colonial subjects would regard themselves as living in “Greater France”, and would look toward Paris as their own cultural center and capital. In order to successfully implement their policies in Africa, they designed what Walter Rodney called, “educational pyramid” . Within this pyramid system, the highest standard of school which offered degrees was built in Brazzaville, Congo. Students were selected in stages based on their scholastic performance from as far away the rest of the colonies in Africa to obtain their higher degrees there. Honor students from the village schools were transferred to the next higher schools in the city, until in that progressive sequence, they finally ended up in Brazzaville or Paris for higher degree programmes.

Furthermore, the French designed identical school curriculum for the entire colonies and generally had the academic calendar similar to theirs and ran beginning September to June of the following year, with the intention that students completing certain grade level from one colony, can be transferred to another without hindrance the learning process.

Similarly, the British had identical form of academic programmes in their colonies. For instance, in 1827, the Fourah Bay College was founded by the Church Missionary Society in Sierra Leone, and almost after 100 years, it was the only college in British governed West Africa which offered degrees. Students came to study at Fourah Bay from as far away as Nigeria and Ghana. As a result, the European school entry schedule was adapted nearly in the entire world, because at that time, “the sun could not set on the British Empire” . Therefore, unlike Liberia, the decision of school calendar was not based on planning and careful study, i.e., considering geographic and climatic conditions and mode of economic productions in the colonized territories. It was rather an imprint of European colonization, politically designed to govern in their controlled colonies.

© 2007 by The Perspective

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