South African Journal of Geomatics

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The establishment of the early scholarship of professional and technical surveying education in South Africa for the period 1657 to 1929

Koos Landman, Mulemwa Akombelwa, Angus Forbes


Historical Research deals with the meaning of events, and it tries to make sense of an ever-flowing stream of events and continuing changes in human life and its institutions. Surveying activities in South Africa, sometimes by people with no survey-specific education, started in 1657.

Early in the 19th century, disputes arose regarding the positions of boundary beacons and the incorrect diagrams representing them. In 1834, the Cape Colony government decreed that land surveyors should only be allowed to practise after completing a qualifying examination set by the Surveyor- General. Early land surveyors were expected to be competent in cadastral, engineering, topographical and mine surveying, and cartography.

This paper will focus on the time period before the existing familiar Professional Degrees and National Diplomas were offered by Universities in South Africa. It will highlight the remarkable achievements of the early surveyors, some of whom were self-taught, and their mentors. It will investigate the first formal learning that surveyors had to undergo to acquire the competencies needed to practise as surveyors.

Keywords: Universities, technikons, colleges, surveying, profession
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