Patrick van Rensburg

Rebel, visionary and radical educationist, a biography

Author(s):
  • Publication Date: July 2020
  • Dimensions and Pages: 234 x 156; 376pp
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-77614-604-8
  • eBook EAN: 9781776146062
  • PDF EAN: 978-1-77614-605-5
  • Rights: World
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 385.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): 30.00

Patrick van Rensburg’s philosophies and projects were beneficial, stimulating our thinking
and urging us to reshape Botswana’s education. He shook our ideas. Kevin Shillington is to
be commended for bringing his story to a wide audience. This book should be read by anyone
interested in education, as Pat’s Education with Production model is relevant to the whole
education ladder, from early childhood through to university.
— Gaositwe K. T. Chiepe, educationist and politician, Minister of Education, Botswana, 1995–1999

Patrick van Rensburg is remembered by most people for his pioneering work in ‘Education
with Production’. Ideas, like cloth, have a tendency of losing their lustre over time. By the
time of his death in 2017, few of the newer generation could remember the contribution of
EwP to Botswana’s development. His most enduring legacy, in my view, is as a journalist and
pioneer of the independent pluralistic press in Botswana and Southern Africa.
— Methaetsile Leepile, Swaneng Hill School alumnus and former editor of the Mmegi newspaper

Patrick van Rensburg (1931–2017) was an anti-apartheid activist and self-made ‘alternative educationist’ whose work received international recognition with the Right Livelihood Award in 1981.
Born in KwaZulu-Natal into what he described as ‘a very ordinary South African family that believed in the virtue of racism’, Patrick van Rensburg was to become a rebel with several causes. In his case they were, initially, the fight against apartheid and, later, a unique contribution to education, which, as he would tell his audience when he accepted the prestigious Right Livelihood Award, ‘as I saw it then, was a necessary tool of development’.
Exiled from South Africa because of his involvement in the boycott campaign in London that gave birth to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, Van Rensburg went to Serowe in Botswana (then Bechuanaland), where he founded co-operatives, provided vocational training and was one of the earliest people to espouse the discipline of development studies.
Perhaps his best-known legacies were Swaneng Hill School, in which he involved his pupils in building their school, running it, providing their own food and making their own equipment and furniture, and ’brigades’ to provide an educational home for primary school ‘dropouts’ through a curriculum that combined theory and practice, mental and manual labour. This sensitive and compelling biography does justice to a giant of a man, controversial throughout his life but undeniably a hero.

Acknowledgements
Abbreviations and acronyms
List of illustrations
Maps
Introduction
Chapter 1 Origins and Identity in South Africa
Chapter 2 An Anglophone South African, 1936–1948
Chapter 3 The Making of an Afrikaner, 1949–1953
Chapter 4 Diplomat and Rebel, 1953–1957
Chapter 5 Anti-Apartheid Activist, 1957–1959
Chapter 6 Boycott, 1959–1960
Chapter 7 Into Exile, 1960–1961
Chapter 8 Return to Africa, 1961–1962
Chapter 9 The Founding of Swaneng Hill School, 1962–1963
Chapter 10 Challenging ‘the Ladder to Privilege’, 1963–1965
Chapter 11 The Alternative Educationist, 1965–1967
Chapter 12 Expansion and Replication, 1967–1969
Chapter 13 Time of Crisis, 1969–1971
Chapter 14 Education with Production, the 1970s
Chapter 15 Foundation for Education with Production and Spreading the Word, the 1980s
Chapter 16 Education with Production and South Africa, the 1990s
Chapter 17 Return to Botswana
Epilogue
Bibliography
Index

Kevin Shillington is an independent historian and biographer who holds a PhD in African History from the University of London. His recent books include, Albert René: the Father of Modern Seychelles (2014) and History of Africa 4th edition (2019).

 

 

Patrick van Rensburg’s philosophies and projects were beneficial, stimulating our thinking
and urging us to reshape Botswana’s education. He shook our ideas. Kevin Shillington is to
be commended for bringing his story to a wide audience. This book should be read by anyone
interested in education, as Pat’s Education with Production model is relevant to the whole
education ladder, from early childhood through to university.
— Gaositwe K. T. Chiepe, educationist and politician, Minister of Education, Botswana, 1995–1999

Patrick van Rensburg is remembered by most people for his pioneering work in ‘Education
with Production’. Ideas, like cloth, have a tendency of losing their lustre over time. By the
time of his death in 2017, few of the newer generation could remember the contribution of
EwP to Botswana’s development. His most enduring legacy, in my view, is as a journalist and
pioneer of the independent pluralistic press in Botswana and Southern Africa.
— Methaetsile Leepile, Swaneng Hill School alumnus and former editor of the Mmegi newspaper

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