Welcome to my column designed to be thought provoking, challenging and even uncomfortable for some.
However as an uncompromising Pan-African I make no apology.
Gifted at primary and failing by secondary
For most of us that have children our wish for them is to be safe, healthy and happy, for them to be well balanced and educated to a level that will allow them to achieve a better standard of living than we have been able to achieve for ourselves. From the moment that our precious princes and princesses leave our home environment and enter the state schooling system we expose them to a myriad of challenges and potential threats which, if not counter measured, can have devastating long term impacts.
Generally our children begin their academic careers aged 4 in reception. Here they are not only subject to the systematic institutionalised prejudices but the individuals within the system that through their own conditioning can consciously or subconsciously inflict their preconceptions, judgements and prejudices on our children.
Often as a result of limited resources our children are not sufficiently challenged and can become bored within a regime that doesn’t always address their needs. When a child, particularly a male, is taken to and collected from school by a single female parent and the school becomes aware that there is no man within that family unit it can trigger a level of expectation towards the child as well as how they challenge and develop that child’s learning. In addition to all of the legislation which makes it very difficult for the school to impose traditional discipline and punishments we can quickly get to a point where discipline and our children’s education can suffer.
Records from the department of education confirm that black children are more than 3 times more likely to be excluded from school than their white peers and 8 times more likely than children of Indian decent. An excess of 30.000 black students are excluded for a fixed period and more than 1000 get permanently excluded every year. Therefore we need to examine the underlying reasons for this destructive pattern and more importantly, how can you play a part in reversing this crippling trend!
We do have options such as home schooling which would give us far greater control; however is not an option that will suit everyone. We can accept what is happening to our children or we can take responsibility and demand more from both the school system our friends and families – particularly the absent fathers of our children! We can not leave the job of developing and educating our children solely to the government school system.
When our children come home on a daily basis we need to ensure that we are aware of what has happened during that day at school. Attend all parents evenings and enlist the support of the men in your circle be it brothers or friends to ensure a male presence at the meeting. We must demand home work on a daily basis and take the time to sit with our children and support them while they do their homework. Investigate and engage with your local black run Saturday school and young peoples mentoring schemes. Frequent and support your local black book shop or black interest section in your local library, ensuring that your children have access to positive reading material. Ensure that within your home there are sufficient positive black images and pictures showing strong black men, women and children. Try to allow your children to travel to Africa or the Caribbean to allow them to see real communities of people looking like them. All of the above will by no means guarantee that our children are going to be straight A students however it will help in preventing them from being gifted at primary and failing by secondary.