by BRENDA ROBINSON
After over a hundred years, missionaries to leave schools in Natal
The Catholic Church in Natal is planning to step out of its entire African mission school operation built up and nurtured by scores of missionaries for more than a century.
Tens of thousands of children in about 300 schools will be handed over to KwaZulu and Bantu education authorities under the plan, which is causing anger and resentment among many of the Church's own missionaries.
But Church authorities are believed to feel that the end of the road has come in their 20-year battle against the Nationalist Government's growing stranglehold on the principle of Church educations But, I was told, the Government has won an empty victory. The only real victor in the ideological tug-of-war has been the Black Power movement and the "drop-out and drug" society.
• The Government has gained scant respect from blacks or whites For its handling of African education and has not substituted the mission school concept with any positive ideas of its own.
The Church will hand over to KwaZulu, mission schools inside its area of jurisdiction and to the Bantu Affairs Department, schools in white areas.
The schools to be handed over fall in the ecclesiastical territories of Durban, Mariannhill, Eshowe, Umziinkulu. Volksrust and Ingwavuma. In some instances, the bishop of a diocese may retain certain schools.
Bishop Elmer Schmidt of Mariannhill has confirmed that 130 schools 500 teachers and 22,000 pupils had been offered to the KwaZulu government from his Mariannhill diocese.
About 39 schools will be offered to KwaZulu by the archdiocese ofDurban, more than 60 from Zululand, with smaller numbers being offered from the prefectures of Umzimkulu, Ingwavuma and Volksrust.
The KwaZulu Government has made provision in this year's estimates for 245,000 rand (about 122.000) to be set aside to take over half the schools.
In a letter to Archbishop Denis Hurley of Durban, Chief Gatsha I3uthelezi said he envisaged that the missionaries would retain the power of hiring and _ firing teachers so that the schools would retain their character.
But missionary priests, many of them angry at what they regard as a betrayal of the Catholic education ideal by the Church hierarchy, point out that as Pretoria has reserved to itself all rights of decision concerning teachers qualifications and salaries, Pretoria and not KwaZulu will have the effective control of the schools.
"I regard Chief Gatsha Buthelezi as the Isaiah of his people." one priest told me. "But clearly what he wants in KwaZulu is schools built up on the missionary ideal, not schools with Pretoria-appointed principals in which the Church has a nominal say or else no say at all."
A further bone of contention is that teachers with Catholic Church teaching certificates are regarded as uncertificated by the Department of Bantu Education, even though they take the same examinations as Department certified teachers and teach under inspection.
Yet Pretoria insists that they can only be accepted in KwaZulu as uncertificated teachers for the first two years and, if they are then found suitable, they will begin to earn at the lowest salary notch of department-certified teachers even though some of them have been teaching for more than 20 years.
Uncertificated African teachers with matriculation in Government employ now earn fixed yearly salaries of 660 rand (men) and 492 rand (women). Without matrie they get 492 rand and 402 rand respectively.
Rates paid to teachers in Catholic schools vary widely according to the school's means. At some places, like St. Wendolin's primary school, teachers are paid as little as 35 rand a month, while at Mariannhill high school teachers are paid at the full rates for Government certificated teachers.
A sample study taken in the Durban area revealed that teachers in Catholic schools received salaries of between 100 rand and less than 50 rand a month.
The Government withdrew its "no strings attached" financial aid from mission schools of all denominations in 1953, although grants for primary education had been made since before Union to mission schools by successive South African Governments, providing the schools were properly run and achieved satisfactory examinanein results.
Dr. Verwoerd, then Minister of Native Affairs, told the House of Assembly in September 1953: "Native education should be controlled in such a way that it should be in accord with the policy of the State . . Good race relations cannot exist when education is given under the control of people who create wrong expectations on the part of the native himself."
Race relations. he said. -cannot improve if the result of native education is the creation of frustrated people . . . Education must train and teach people in ac cordance with their opportunities in lire. according to the sphere in which they live."
He said previous systems of education had blindly produced pupils trained on a white model. thus creating the vain hope among Africans that they could occupy posts within the white community. despite the country's policy of apartheid.
In terms of this policy there was no place for them in the white community above the level of certain forms of labour. Within their own areas, however, all doors were open to them.
In August 1954, a letter was sent to all superintendents of State-aided mission schools, saying they might retain control of their schools and/or hostels as unaided institutions, accept a reduced subsidy for Governmentapproved teachers, or relinquish control of the schools and hostels to the Bantu community organisations.
Teacher training establishments had to choose either to rent or sell their schools and hostels to the iepartment. to rent or sell their schools while retaining their hostels, or to close down altogether. They were given no option of retaining their training colleges as Governmentrecognised bodies.
Missions were told that future arrangements must be finalised with the department before April I, 1955. Only after that date were they told that schools which accepted Government aid would have their subsidies progressively reduced, until after 1957 they would receive no further subsidies at all.
All churches except the Catholics decided to close their African mission schools. The Catholics decided to raise 2 million rand initially to keep the schools going. During an emotion-charged campaign about 3 million rand was raised.
The Government retaliated over the years with a series of measures designed to keep the heat on the Church schools. The schools were told in 1957 they would have to apply for registration as private schools. If registration was granted it would be illegal for them to operate without it they would have to follow departmental syllabuses:
Even the syllabuses they were allowed to draw up for religious instruction had to be submitted to the department for approval.
The Government laid down maximum penalties of a line of 100 rand or six months' imprisonment for failing to apply for registration, refusing access to inspectors, and neglecting to keep proper records to come into effect when the subsidies were withdrawn in 1957.
Many mission institutions for Africans were later found to be in "white" areas and were forced to close under the Group Areas Act or allowed to stay open on a "permit" which could be withdrawn at any time.
The high schools of Mariannhill and Inkamana, which between them supply nearly twothirds of the candidates for university education, operate.to this day on a permit system because they are both in "white" areas.
In a memorandum on the Bantu Education Act the Catholic bishops expressed grave misgivings that the Government's policy would cause a serious weakening of Christian influence.
In 1954 the Catholic Church was running 688 subsidised and about 130 unsubsidised schools for Africans, and was teaching nearly 150,000 pupils. By 1960 640 Catholic schools remained open, with 2,190 teachers and 93,244 pupils.
In 1961 the Government refused to allow non-Catholic Africans to attend the schools and it has since become almost impossible for religious congregations of priests and nuns to get work perr-4for teaching
members of t ,ongregations to enter Soutls .frica if they are to work with Africans.
To ensure that this rule is kept the Government insists that all religious teachers entering the country remain at the job entered on their work permits for at least three years.
Bishop Elmer Schmidt of Mariannhill said this week that although he was not in the country when most of the polemic was flying over Catholic schools. he knew very well that his predecessor, Bishop Alphons Streit, had nearly killed himself trying to find the money to run the schools in the diocese.
"Education has been at the heart of our missionary endeavour for so long that many priests are deeply hurt and distressed because they cannot see their way into the future without the schools.
"I feel very deeply for them, but I wonder if, having done our best, we now have to find another modus virendi another way to bring our Catholic heritage to the hearts of the people."
But many Catholic mission priests are up in arms and some say the bishops are betraying their trust and "killing our souls and those of our people."
One priest told me: "Between 1953 and 1956 the bishops proclaimed the absolute necessity for Catholic education to continue because of Christ's cornmandment to his Church to go and teach the Gospel to his people. And spearheading this campaign was Archbishop Hurley.
"Christ's commandments to his ministers remain. Religion is still not something that can be taught as a school subject, but must be absorbed over the years in a spirit of teaching that takes in all of life."
But. I was told. the mission priests are heavily outnumbered by the priests in the white urban areas, and are voted down.
"My view is that the Church now has a unique opportunity to rebuild its Christian education of ATrican children on new and better lines. Seventy-five per cent of the Church is black, and yet these people are not being consulted about the closure of their schools.
"Instead, the Church authorities are planning to develop the white urban Church at the expense of the Church's black majority. Within a few months of being told there was not enough money to keep our schools going, nearly a quarter of a million rand was voted for development in white areas."
The senate of priests had voted 60.000 rand for a new parish in Kloof "without batting an eyelid." the priest 'said. "And without having time to close the second eye they voted to move St. Joseph's Church, Greyville, now in Stamford Hill Road, one street higher to the corner of Gordon and.Florida Roads there is less noise up there.
More than 55.000 rand was spent acquiring property in Umhlanga Rocks and, of course, nobody mentions the -money which will be spent on a new cathedral."
Another priest told me: "The truth is there is apartheid in the Churchfrom top to bottom and it is being implemented quite well enough to suit the Government."
Archbishop Hurley of Durban says the financial structure of the Church is broadly that each parish that can support itself does so, and what money can be siphoned off for other purposes is diverted to the missions.
The twofold structure of the self-supporting white parishes, and the mainly dependent black parishes, might not be desirable, but that was how the Church in South Africa had developed, he said.
"If a white parish pays for a new church. or a new church hall, the hierarchy can't very well say: 'You can't have it.'
is completely untrue to imply that the hierarchy has large sums at its disposal which it is deliberately giving for white development at the expense of the black people," Dr. Hurley said,
At all events, it's the end of a rugged. lively, colourful era.