Sir J. Maffey to Sir P. Loraine
I HAVE the honour to refer to Foreign Office despatch No. 971 of the 2nd October, forwarded by the first secretary through the Sudan Agent on the 15th October, and to the conversations which recently took place in Alexandria between your Excellency and myself upon the subject of the educational policy of this Government in the Southern Sudan.
2. It is a matter of great relief to me that the general principle advocated by this Government, namely, the imposition of such checks as may be feasible and warrantable upon the spread of Islam in the south, rather than its encouragement and the fostering of native insititutions, should have received the support both of your predecessor and His Majesty's Government.
3. Effect can be given to this policy in a variety of directions, such as, for instance, the provision of non-Mahometan staff (administrative, clerical and technical), insistence upon the British staff familiarising themselves with the beliefs, the customs and the language of the tribes whom they administer, and the control of immigrant traders from the north, but it is clearly in the field of education that the most difficult problems arise, and that the most important decisions required to be taken.
4. It is indeed upon the educational aspect of the question that recent correspondence has been concentrated and, in accordance with the wish expressed by your Excellency at our recent meeting, I propose in the following paragraphs briefly to restate, the present position and our policy in this respect, and to suggest criteria by which we should measure both the degree of erosion which has resulted to date from the infiltration of Mahometan influences, and such progress as may be gradually achieved.
5. Until 1924, our educational policy for the south, with which that of language is closely bound up, had not been fully considered. During the years 1924 to 1927, the attention of the Central Government was directed to this question, and a system of educational grants to the four missionary societies, which had been working in the Southern Sudan for many years, was gradually developed as the best means of improving the standard of the mission schools and obtaining more effective control and co-operation. These grants were subject to certain conditions of efficiency, and with the same end in view, Government education officers were posted to the southern provinces.
6. In pursuing this policy, the Government was influenced by the following considerations: A system of Government schools would have entailed either the engagement of a large staff of British masters, whose recruitment--if the right type were to be obtained-presented almost insuperable difficulties and involved expenditure out of all proportion to the needs of the situation, or the utilisation of Sudanese teachers trained in the Mahometan areas of the Northern Sudan. The latter method would, of course, have been contrary to the general policy in that it would have introduced Islam at a most vulnerable point.
7. The Rejaf Language Conference held in April 1928, though convened primarily to discuss the problems of orthography and languages, marks a definite stage in the progress of our educa tional policy for the south. The adoption of the recommendation of that conference for a uniform orthography and the development of certain group languages for use in schools really postulated a continuation of the system of recognition of the mission schools, for without the co-operation of those in charge of these schools the attainment of these objects would have been almost impossible. It may, therefore, be said that the conference set the seal on the experimental policy of the preceding years. In the two years subsequent to the conference, educational grants to missions were substantially increased, and the preparation of school text books in the new orthography for the various group languages taken in hand. A linguistic expert was engaged in 1929 to advise on the production of grammars and vocabularies for the use of officials and missionaries.
8. Our main purpose in the south is to spread education of an elementary type by means of vernacular schools and to make the young men useful members of the society to which they belong, fitting them to compete with the changing conditions of a life which, as trade develops and communications improve, must be constantly subject to novel impacts.