Discuss the significance of the Phelps-Stokes committee report to the development of the British educational policies in its colonies.


When Phelps Stoke’s committee visited West Africa in 1920, it criticized the system

of education being given to Africans as being classically book based. They accused

the missionaries for following the ideals prevailing in their home countries, which

might not work functionally in Africa. The reports further condemned the subjects

being taught to Africans as being direct copies of the subject contents from British


and America schools with little attempt to use local materials in the teaching of the

subjects like history and geography. Phelps stoke commission recommendation on education policies in British colonies undoubtedly laid the foundation for the evolution of the colonial educational policies in Africa, for it influenced the British Government to assess its responsibilities on education to its colonies. The recommendations were;



A. Education should be developed along the vocational and cultural lives of the


B. The needs of African societies be met through education so as to promote development.


C. Educational and Religious responsibilities of Government should be

effectively organized and supervised.

The Phelps-Stokes committee report held significant importance in shaping British educational policies in its colonies, particularly in Africa. Here are some explanations and examples to illustrate this significance:

  1. Critique of Book-Based Education: The committee’s criticism of the book-based education system in Africa highlighted the need for a more practical and culturally relevant approach. This criticism influenced the British authorities to reconsider their approach to education in the colonies. For example, in response to this critique, the British government began to introduce vocational training programs alongside traditional academic education in African colonies. This shift aimed to provide students with skills that were directly applicable to their local economies, such as agriculture or craftsmanship.
  2. Missionary Influence: The committee’s accusation that missionaries were importing educational ideals from their home countries underscored the disconnect between foreign ideologies and the realities of African societies. As a result, the British government started to encourage the incorporation of indigenous knowledge and materials into the curriculum. For instance, African history and geography began to include local perspectives and contexts, allowing students to better relate to their education.
  3. Meeting Local Needs: The recommendation that education should meet the needs of African societies for the purpose of promoting development had a profound impact. British colonial authorities began to tailor educational programs to address local challenges and opportunities. For example, in regions with agriculture as the primary economic activity, agricultural education was prioritized to improve farming techniques and boost food production.
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  5. Government Responsibility: The committee’s emphasis on organized and supervised educational and religious responsibilities of the government prompted the British government to take a more active role in overseeing education in its colonies. This led to the establishment of educational departments and the development of standardized curricula. In practice, this meant that education became more accessible and consistent across different regions within colonies.

In summary, the Phelps-Stokes committee report served as a catalyst for significant changes in British educational policies in its colonies. These changes aimed to make education more relevant to local needs, cultures, and economies while ensuring better government oversight. The impact of these recommendations extended far beyond the committee’s visit to West Africa, influencing the evolution of colonial educational policies in Africa as a whole.




1. The Phelps-Stokes committee report in 1920 criticized African education for being too _____.
a) book-based
b) practical
c) modern

2. According to the committee, missionaries were following the ideals from their _____.
a) home countries
b) African communities
c) colonial leaders


3. The report condemned the subjects taught to Africans for being too similar to those in _____ schools.
a) British and American
b) African
c) Asian

4. Phelps-Stokes commission recommendations aimed to shape colonial educational policies in Africa, influencing the _____ to reassess its role in education.
a) British Government
b) local communities
c) missionaries

5. The committee’s first recommendation was to align education with the _____ and cultural aspects of the people.
a) vocational
b) political
c) industrial


6. One of the committee’s goals was to ensure education in British colonies met the needs of African societies for the purpose of promoting _____.
a) development
b) isolation
c) tradition

7. The report emphasized the need for effective organization and supervision of _____ and religious responsibilities by the government.
a) educational
b) industrial
c) agricultural

8. According to the Phelps-Stokes committee, colonial education in Africa should be more _____ and less theoretical.
a) practical
b) philosophical
c) abstract


9. The committee’s report aimed to influence British educational policies by focusing on making education more _____ and culturally relevant.
a) vocational
b) standardized
c) theoretical

10. One key recommendation was to integrate _____ materials into the teaching of subjects like history and geography.
a) local
b) foreign
c) digital

11. The Phelps-Stokes committee’s visit to West Africa in 1920 had a significant impact on the _____ of colonial educational policies.
a) development
b) abandonment
c) expansion


12. The committee believed that education in British colonies should align with the _____ of the local people.
a) culture
b) colonial rulers
c) missionaries’ values

13. The report stressed the importance of the government taking _____ responsibility for education in its colonies.
a) educational and religious
b) military and economic
c) cultural and artistic

14. Phelps-Stokes committee’s recommendations aimed to ensure that education in British colonies contributed to the _____ of African societies.
a) development
b) decline
c) colonization


15. The committee’s findings and recommendations played a crucial role in shaping the direction of _____ educational policies in Africa.
a) colonial
b) independent
c) international