"I will reform it so that Natives will be taught from childhood to realize that equality with Europeans is not for them." - Hendrik Verwoerd
In 1953 the National Party government in South Africa under native affairs minister Hendrik Verwoerd passed the Bantu Education Act. The motivation behind the act was that the government believed that it was a waste of resources to teach skills such as mathematics to people who were to become farm labourers. Under Bantu Education, the education provided to non-whites was very simplistic and practical. Limits were also placed on the language of instruction, with some subjects taught in the student's native language, some in English and some in Afrikaans.

The standard of this education was terrible. In 1961, only 10% of teachers teaching high school had completed high school themselves. Classes were overcrowded and the government refused to build new schools in urban areas. This situation, along with the growing black consciousness movement under Steve Biko, lead to students becoming increasingly politically aware.This increase in awareness lead to the 1967 Soweto Riots.

The concept was expanded to include tertiary education by the Extension of University Education Act in 1957. This act prevented non-white students from joining undergraduate programs at universities reserved for white students. New colleges were opened for each population group (Tswana, Xhosa, Zulu, Coloured, Indian). Most of the lecturers at the established University of Fort Hare resigned and were replaced by white Afrikaans speaking staff.

Bantu education proved to be unsuccessful in cementing the power of the apartheid regime. Verwoerd might have believed that ignorance is strength, but most students didn't subscribe to the same ideology.