British colonial rule has often been praised for its comparatively benign features, such as its support for local educational development. This paper studies the origins of formal education in sub-Saharan Africa arguing that the beneficial effects of British educational policy should not be overstated. British African colonies showed significantly higher school enrolment rates in the late colonial era, but these were not the result of impressive investment efforts. Missionary schools provided the bulk of education to native Africans at extremely low costs. We show that local African conditions affecting the African reception of missionary education explain much more of the variation in colonial educational outcomes than metropolitan identity.
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New Book: Agency, Gender and Economic Development in the World Economy 1850–2000
New GEHS book: Technology, Skills and the Pre-Modern Economy in the East and the West, editors Maarten Prak and Jan Luiten van Zanden
The Long Road to the Industrial Revolution available as print on demand paper back
Film impressions, Tine De Moor and Bas van Bavel of the CGEH explain the societal relevance of their research in short films