Literacy at South African Mission Stations

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP06/2013
 
Publication date: 2013
 
Author(s):
[protected email address] (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)
[protected email address] (Deapertments of History, Universities of Leiden and South Africa)
[protected email address] (Department of History, University of South Africa)
 
Abstract:

Measures of education quality – primarily, years of schooling or literacy rates – are widely used to ascertain the contribution of human capital formation to long-run economic growth and development. This paper, using a census of 4,678 mission station residents, documents for the first time literacy and numeracy rates of non-white citizens in nineteenth-century South Africa. The 1849 census allows for an investigation into how the mission stations influenced the growth of literacy in the Cape Colony. We find that age, gender, duration of residence, whether the individual arrived at the station after the emancipation of slaves or was born there and, importantly, which missionary society was operating the station, matter for literacy performance. The results offer new insights into the comparative performance of missionary societies in South Africa and contribute to the debate about the role of missionary societies in the development of a colonial society.

 
JEL Classification:

N37

Keywords:

human capital, South Africa, missionary, literacy, age-heaping

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1 March 2021
Even with the release of data showing a record high unemployment rate in 2020Q4, it turned out to be a fairly good week for the SA economy. Daily new COVID-19 infections remained well contained, while the second batch of 80 000 J&J vaccines arrived (albeit controversially with the grounded SAA being the carrier). In addition, relative to the October...

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