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Classics in the Modern WorldA Democratic Turn?$
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Lorna Hardwick and Stephen Harrison

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199673926

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199673926.001.0001

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Classics in West African Education

Classics in West African Education

The Rhetoric of Colonial Commissions

(p.157) 12 Classics in West African Education
Classics in the Modern World

Barbara Goff

Oxford University Press

One of the ways in which the twentieth century saw a ‘democratic turn’ was that the colonized countries of Africa and Asia struggled for independence, and one of the narratives of independence concerns the place of classics in the education of colonized West Africa. The missionaries who helped to spearhead colonialism in the early nineteenth century perceived the classical languages as a sine qua non for a minister of religion, and selected converts were thoroughly trained in Greek and Latin. Classics gradually became entrenched as part of the route to status and respect, an element of the toolset for a modern, professional identity. Yet, by the early part of the twentieth century the acquisition of classics by West Africans had become deeply controversial. In this chapter I examine the contrasting rhetoric surrounding classics in the reports of two educational commissions.

Keywords:   West Africa, missionaries, education, Phelps-Stokes, Elliot Commission

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