n Southern African Review of Education with Education with Production - From boys to men : the education and institutional care of coloured boys in the early twentieth century

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1563-4418


This article provides a historical narrative about some of the reasoning, thinking and processes that informed the establishment of the Ottery School of Industries in Cape Town in 1948 and the role of Porter Reformatory therein. This is important given the enduring issues it addressed. The aim is to highlight how the variety of educational and institutional debates that contributed to the ways in which the needs of destitute 'in-need-of-care' learners were perceived and addressed in the first half of the twentieth century in Cape Town played out in 'real time' within institutional developments at Porter and Ottery in the second half of the century. By knitting together primary and secondary sources, government reports and policy documents, the article highlights how the context of a particular policy formulation unfolds in practice in later years, and in the kinds of political and bureaucratic trade-offs that are made, as well as the understanding of resource shortage and pragmatism about how to proceed in institutional practice. As such, it urges an understanding of the 'longue durée' of history and provides a different perspective on educational discussions and their immersion in discourses of poverty, disorder, racial form and the supposed benefits of institutionalisation. The Ottery School of Industries was the first such institution in South Africa provided for coloured boys as well as the first large state facility that was established and located on the Cape Flats in very close proximity to the communities that it would supposedly serve. These two developments were informed by multifaceted understandings of race, urban space and indigency in Cape Town in the 1940s.

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