First formal school opens at the Cape

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Drawing by Lady Anne Barnard. Collection: National Archives.

Wednesday, 17 April 1658

Jan van Riebeeck, commander at the Cape, wrote in his diary that a school for slaves has been started. Sick-comforter Pieter van der Stael was the first teacher. To reward pupils (mainly adults) for their presence, they each daily received a glass of brandy and two inches of tobacco. The aim of the school was to increase the usefulness of the slaves to their owners. This school was founded by Commander Jan van Riebeeck for the slave children brought to the Cape in the Dutch ship, the Amersfoort, which had captured them off a Portuguese slaver. A second school, attended by 12 White children, four slaves and one Khoi-Khoi, was opened in 1661.

References:
• Christie, P. (1991). The right to learn: the struggle for education in South Africa, Cape Town: SACHED Trust, p. 32.
•  Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds) (1970). Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Cape Town: NASOU, v. 4, p. 225.
•  Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds) (1970). Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Cape Town: NASOU, v. 11, p. 139.

Last updated : 10-Apr-2015

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011