With regard to Afro-Caribbean people and Educational Oppression - to what extent has the population been denied access to the educational system or given unequal treatment while in the system...

With regard to Afro-Caribbean people and Educational Oppression - to what extent has the population been denied access to the educational system or given unequal treatment while in the system (current affirmative action issues related here as well)?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The educational problems of the Afro-Caribbean communities in countries like Great Britain and the United States, especially in the former due to its history of colonization and the inevitable migrations towards the colonial power that have occurred, are a product of histories of institutionalized racism but also, more recently, of the endemic poverty afflicting those communities and of the cultural idiosyncrasies that subordinate formal education to “street” education.  There is no question that, especially in Great Britain, Afro-Caribbean children perform far more poorly in school than do other ethnic groups – so much so, in fact, that the problem is being examined extensively for ways to mitigate that problem.  The underlying causes today, however, remain subject to debate.  A 1994 article in the British newspaper The Independent, for example, cited a report suggesting the problem lied in institutionalized exclusion from the educational system of this one category of student:

“Afro-Caribbean boys are four times more likely to be excluded from school than their white peers. According to the Commission for Racial Equality, it is the biggest single problem in inner-city schools.” [See Ngaio Crequer, “Education: Don't let them be misunderstood: Why are more Afro-Caribbean boys excluded from school than their white peers? July 21, 1994]

According to this study, behavioral characteristics common to Afro-Caribbean children have resulted in their being categorized as unmanageable, leading to their exclusion from elementary school.  Similarly, a 2005 article in The Economist noted the perceptions of Afro-Caribbean students and the resulting educational deficiencies in those communities – perceptions shared by Afro-Caribbean scholars:

“According to the “cultural deficit” theory, Afro-Caribbean boys are simply not prepared to learn. That is not entirely their fault. Many grow up in dysfunctional households: 52% are born to single mothers, compared with 14% of whites and fewer than one in ten Asians. Lacking black parental role models, children are quick to latch on to other, less savoury ideals promoted by peers and (in the worst cases) American rappers.” [“Bad attitudes: A misguided debate over black underachievement at school,” March 10, 2005]

Other reports and studies have contributed to the discussion by focusing on the cultural and social factors involved.  Adolph Cameron, head of the Jamaican Teachers Association, was quoted as stating that within the Afro-Caribbean community "education... takes second place to notions of entrepreneurship as, predominantly our young men, get involved in the informality of what the University of the West Indies academics, Witter and Gayle, have called a 'hustle culture'.” [Hannah Richardson, “African-Caribbean Boys ‘Would Rather Hustle than Learn’,” BBC News, October 20, 2011]

Rectifying the problem, then, would involve better educating teachers on the unique characteristics of Afro-Caribbean children with regard to culture and directing increased financial resources towards improving educational opportunities for this category of student.  To the extent that endemic poverty is a contributing factor – and it usually is – then greater subsidization of educational opportunities for this particular community may be warranted, along with efforts at community outreach oriented towards emphasizing the importance of education.