How can education kill a nation?
It’s the oldest trick in the book. That’s the book of colonial techniques for assimilation. It roughly goes like this:
- Conquer a smaller nation by military might
- Bring that nation under colonial rule through subjugation by any means (poverty, deprivation or exploitation of it’s resources and manpower)
- Impose your laws, taxes and education system on that second class nation
- Isolate and remove all knowledge of that nation’s history, language, culture, traditions and heritage from it’s children
- Change people’s perception of the country (in Wales we are increasingly referred to as ‘England and Wales’)
- Wait and watch the nation loose it’s identity and become assimilated into your country (it usually takes about 6 – 7 generations after the education part is deployed. )
Of all the techniques incorporated into that process of assimilation the most important is the establishing of the coloniser’s education system.
Detailed Article On This Subject
Your correspondent wrote an article on this very subject back in 2002, titled The Education System in Wales – The Nation’s Blessing or Curse? As little has changed since then, there’s little point in repeating here all the information contained in it.
It would be beneficial therefore, for you the reader, to read that essay, as it gives the background to the problem up to this today, and gives a detailed historical picture of the education system in force in Wales – since it’s inception – when The Compulsory Education Act of 1870 and subsequent Westminster based education acts were introduced and applied to the colony called Wales.
Since education is now a devolved subject , we should be able to amend things. However with a London based Labour party in power (ably assisted by their Lib-Dem mascot in the form of Kirsty Williams their education minister) little will change.
We have FOUR foreign parties holding sway in the Senedd – all Brit-Nat Unionists, so the Education Acts foisted upon us from England will continue in safe hands – for the foreseeable future. We have one home grown party down there in the Bay, but the metaphor of the usefulness of a chocolate teapot springs to mind, as they are unlikely to even understand the problem, much less put it right. It seems their full time energies are funnelled into copying the other ‘socialist’ party – Labour – the party of poverty. So it’s left to Ein Gwlad.
Examples of the bitter after-taste of colonial ‘Education’ in other countries
We are not alone in this quandary. It can be observed the world over when it comes to colonisation and assimilation.
It is a process that is used to integrate small and fragile nations into the body of larger colonising nations. Look at the history of the decline of the native Americans – it is the same tactic with the Aborigine in Australia, or the Maori in New Zealand and the native people of south America. One factor is common to them all: they are all pushed into the coloniser’s education system, and as a result, they are transformed by conforming to what is taught (or more importantly what is NOT taught) within those systems. Some of the more recent systematic example is China and Tibet, where China has forbidden the use of the Tibetan language in schools, because otherwise they fail to assimilate the people into their own culture and make them “Chinese” Tibetans. The pattern is the same across the world, and the problem is that the affected nation tends to respond to the symptoms, rather than responding by attacking the causes.
We in Wales can try to save or replenish our ability to speak the language until we’re blue in the face and choke – it’s a futile exercise. The language is only a part of the problem. Every nation that wishes to survive is dependent on a three-strand plait. You cannot make a plait with less than three strands. In each nation, the three strands represent:
If any of these three are removed, then the other two start to deteriorate and unravel, and as a result the nation loses its identity and gradually disappears. If two of the three are removed, then the decline is more rapid. By transplanting a foreign culture and history to replace the traditional culture and history of a nation, the traditional language declines and vanishes – the nation dies. That is what has happened in Wales since the end of the nineteenth century.
It is just like leaves withering on the tree – there is no purpose in expending energy on restoring the leaves (the language) if the tree is being poisoned through its roots – in the end, it will all die, and the leaves will disappear anyway.
Issah Abdul-Hanan Girasu’s description of how Ghana is still suffering from the effects of colonial education
Issah Abdul-Hanan Girasu teaches in the Department of Applied Biology at UDS Navrongo Campus. He says in a letter he wrote for ‘Modern Ghana’
To begin with, the main aim of education introduced by the Whiteman was to train and produce secretaries and translators to aid them to subterfuge and swindle the people of this country.
This was a success until this same education opened our eyes on how we were being maltreated and ruled over with mendacious stories. Then we chased them out with all our might.
Also, education was introduced to aid the missionaries to propagate their theology instead of teaching commonsense, creativity, innovative reasoning and logic. Those educated through the missionary were trained to defend the faith with their might and lives and the rest were invested with loyalty to the faith without intellectual curiosity.
Isn’t there an increase in Welsh medium schools?
There IS an increase in Welsh medium schools, but teaching children to speak Welsh without giving them the correct knowledge about the past, their history, and knowledge about their culture, rich literary heritage (arguably the richest in the world) is futile. It does not address the problem of a loss of identity. It leaves them in a vacuum. What purpose is there in teaching an ancient language that serves no purpose in their Anglicised world? A language that has no appeal, because the rest of the mechanisms associated with it are lost. It’s a package, the package is useless unless all the constituent parts are there.
Teachers in Welsh medium schools are often prickly when this is revealed to them. Possibly they feel that their praiseworthy efforts to keep the Welsh language alive are being undermined, but the truth is: they teach England’s curriculum through the medium of Welsh – it has the same effect ultimately, the children are inculcated with knowledge of the world through empirical eyes. Even though there has been a compromise in terms of the use of Welsh in schools, this is not going to save the nation. The other subjects, although they are taught through the medium of Welsh, convey to every child the concepts and ideologies of the British Empire, and as a result, the children lose their sense of identity. Learning Welsh is then completely pointless for them.
Isn’t this over stating things a bit?
Do a little experiment yourself. Go and find a group of schoolchildren from either a primary or a secondary Welsh medium school (where you’re more likely to get answers). Simply ask them: “Do you know who Llywelyn the Great, Owain Glyndŵr, Hywel Dda and Dafydd ap Gruffydd were?”.
Now ask them who “Alfred the Great, Canute, Edward the confessor and Haold II of 1066 and the battle of Hastings fame”.
Or ask them if they know who Robin Hood was, then ask if they’ve ever heard of Twm Siôn Cati.
Ask them if they know who Bendigeidfran, Branwen or Llyr were in the Mabinogi. By now you’ll have got your answer and it’s depressing.
They’ll be able to tell you in detail about the first and second world wars, and the Boar war and many other British Empire battles. They all know about the successes of the English (British) Empire, but they can’t tell you where we fought our last battle against a foe. They can’t name our heroes or know anything about our myths and stories. Now when it comes to the wives of Henry the VIII they’ll delight in telling you all about it in gory detail.
An exaggeration? I think not. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, the inculcating of English education into the minds of Welsh children goes on at a multi dimensional level. And gradually their identity and culture gets scrubbed away.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the more aware amongst us could see the writing on the wall. It was apparent that each generation that went through the British /English education system in Wales became increasingly distanced from their roots and their awareness of their nation and identity. The language was rapidly disappearing in some areas – the sun was setting on one of the oldest cultures in Europe and who were the possessors of THE oldest written language on the continent, with the exception of Basque, Welsh is also the oldest spoken language in Europe and has one of the richest literary heritages in the modern world. All was falling apart after only 30 years of the introduction of the English Compulsory Education Act of 1870.
What does the future hold?
It’s grim, but the situation can be saved within one generation. How?
- By campaigning hard and winning an independence referendum with the support of the ‘Indy’ groups that are springing up.
- The election of Ein Gwlad as a government following a democratic election after a successful independence referendum.
It’s doable. If you are a Welsh patriot who yearns to be free and are sickened by the workings of the English based parties in the Senedd, coupled by the ambivalence of Plaid Cymru’s AMs and PMs in these matters, then there is only one option left – Ein Gwlad. Before it’s too late.
We aim to put things right when it comes to the education system, and we’re not just talking about our PISA rankings. We will strip away the 150 year suffering at the hands of an English Curriculum and we will rebuild our very own curriculum based on OUR special needs. We have some of the brightest pupils in Wales, given the right environment they don’t need to think they are second best to ANYONE in the world. But they have to have a proper education system and accompanying curriculum.
When we release our party manifesto to the public during March 2019, you’ll be able to see exactly what our outline policy plans are for the education system in Wales.
Recently retired Consultant Electronics Engineer, now living in Aberaeron Ceredigion. Educated at Bronant County Primary School, Tregaron County School and the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology (Cardiff).
Involved in politics for nearly 50 years. Former vice president of Plaid Cymru – resigned in 2002. Currently the Chairman and a founding member of Ein Gwlad. Gwilym is also one of our permanent contributing editors at Ein Gwlad’s News Portal.