Struggle for Control of Education in Zambia

Author: O'Brien, Dan
This book investigates the crucial role that education played in the construction and subsequent life of the Republic of Zambia, formerly Northern Rhodesia. The social structure is examined from the perspective of subaltern theory and the educational structure from the theoretical perspective of Foucault’s Discourse and Discipline. The importance of combining these two theoretical aspects arises from the particular situation of the territory between 1924, when the Colonial Office took over from the British South Africa Company and 1964 when Zambian Independence was declared. By 1924 there were already four clearly defined groups within the territory, the Colonial Officials, the Miners, traders and farmers, the Missionaries and the Africans. Each of these categories of people had their own view of how the territory should be developed. Each believed that education was the instrument they could use to achieve their aims and the book shows in details the efforts they made to do so. A detailed study of the education provided at both Discourse (Policy) and Discipline (schools and curriculum) levels shows however that none of the participants took into account the inherent logic of an educational system. The efforts made to manipulate the system has led to results that none of the parties envisaged and has left the Zambian people with major problems at social, political and educational levels.


“ ... Over 50 years of British rule had left colonial Northern Rhodesia ill-prepared to become the modern state of ‘Zambia.’ This fascinating, original and well-researched book reveals in detail just how this had come about, and why this British colonial possession moved into modernity and ‘Kwacha’ (freedom) with a schizophrenic political and social culture. Here is the rich story which this book works to unravel, constantly measuring intention against reality and outcome. Power and education are its dual themes; and it lightly but effectively deploys social science theory to hold together and explicate the historical developments and determined modern Zambian history ... A fine and scholarly book such as this is important as Africans consider their past and its meanings towards a ‘re-awakening’ of the great continent.” – (from the Preface) Deryck Schreuder, Professor Emeritus, Macquarie University, Sydney, Austrialia

“ ... The author guides the reader from the Rhodesian days up to the present, or from Colonialism through Federation and on to education as it is evolving in an independent Zambia. This work represents a significant contribution to scholarship, particularly in the area of education in Zambia, and also, for those who attend also to the methodology, to the more general field of how education ‘develops’ in developing countries ... Having read this book, I feel I am both enriched by the experience, and that I have had one of the large gaps in my knowledge pleasantly filled ...” – Kevin Harris, Professor Emeritus, Macquarie University

“ ... Dr. O’Brien has written an exemplary and eloquent account of Zambia’s educational history that vindicates the efficacy of subaltern and Foucaultian approaches. He shows that there is indeed ‘devil’ in the detail. Anyone interested in the state of contemporary Zambia and the provenance of its educational institutions need look no further than this book.” – Professor Colin Symes, Macquarie University

Table of Contents

1. Education in a Colonial Society
2. Discourse and the Discipline of Education
3. Discourse and the Discipline of Education in the 1930s
4. The End of the Depression and the War Years
5. Planning Education in the Post War Years
6. Education in the Lead-Up to Federation
7. Education During Federation and the Coming of Independence
8. Education Since Independence