The underlying reasons for the below par performances of black pupils in the UK were examined last week.
While sociologists appear content merely to look at the basic and perceived visible causes, some institutional bodies have dug deeper in their efforts to determine more fully the answers to the problems.
Their findings have been disturbing, as previously reported. While noting the causes, today I look at the effect the biases and prejudices have had and continue to have on black children’s performances in school.
We have looked at recent GCSE exam results and unsurprisingly, given the disadvantages suffered by the black children, Afro-Caribbean children’s performances were at the lowest end of the scale.
Government information shows that for GCSE (attainment eight passes) this group’s results were below the national average. Afro-Caribbean children achieved a figure of 40.5 per cent success against top rated figures of 62.8 per cent by the Chinese and 55.4 per cent by the Indian students.
Naturally, the low achievement at the standard GCSE level has had an effect on the group’s higher education. We have found in the latest figures available that black students again show the lowest level of attainment with 55.6 per cent achieving a first class and/or upper second class degree compared to figures of 68 per cent, 74 per cent, 78 per cent and 67 per cent in all other classifications of countries and ethnicity. As a matter for record, only 12 per cent of black students gained first class honours compared to a national average of 24 per cent.
The effect of prejudice and bias against Afro-Caribbean black students at an early age has unquestionably fed through to their performances at the higher level and this is very sad, though expected.
Throughout all stages of education, black children have featured at the bottom end of the tables, particularly those with an Afro-Caribbean heritage. The only table at which they sit at the top is one which deals with temporary school expulsions where ten per cent of Afro-Caribbean pupils have suffered this fate. This is not a record to be proud of and is way above that recorded for other groups.
The effect of bias and misrepresentation is catastrophic, and it appears to have submerged the talent of black children into a morass of under achievement. Fundamentally, there are no marked differences in the basic abilities of the other groups of children and yet the level of achievement languishes at the bottom and shows little sign of improving.
Put simply, it is not a case of broken homes and single parenthood. The system needs to be changed and be more open and embracing. Many Afro-Caribbean children have swam against the tide and reached the other end. Their successes, in great measure, can be attributed to above average ability linked to proper guidance. However, we cannot allow those less fortunate to flounder by the wayside.
Somehow, somewhere, black leaders and representatives should make their voices heard on behalf of all black children. It would appear that many of them (leaders, etc.) have meshed into the mainstream system and perhaps have forgotten their moral duty to lend a helping hand. They should be reminded that today’s comfort zone could well be tomorrow’s well of despair.
Vincent “Boo” Nurse is a Barbadian living in London who is a retired land Revenue Manager, Pensions and Investment Adviser. He is passionate about the development of his island home and Disapora.