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By the Newsdesk

Saturday, October 22, 2011.


A leading Black teacher has sensationally claimed that Black boys in Britain and the Caribbean are under-performing  because they equate school work to being gay.

Adolph Cameron, the head of Jamaican Teachers’ Association said that black boys are deliberately not doing well in school to avoid looking effeminate.

Speaking at a National Union of Teachers-sponsored event in Bristol, UK, Mr Cameron said: “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'," he said.

Official figures in recent years on the education of young Black boys have painted a dismal picture. Less than half of Black British boys achieve five A to C passes , against a national average of 51.9%, and there are twice as many young black men in prison as there are in university.

Given that Black boys had the highest scores of any racial group of pupils in so-called baseline assessments of basic literacy and numeracy when British children begin school, why do they fall off the achievement stage when they get to secondary school?

Mr Cameron blames this on the notion of Black masculinity. He told the BBC News Online that:

"That notion of masculinity says that if as a male you aspire to perform highly it means you are feminine, even to the extent of saying you are gay.

"But in the context of Jamaica, which is so homophobic, male students don't want to be categorised in that way so that they would deliberately underperform in order that they are not."

He continued: "I would not be surprised if here in England the same or similar things occur in terms of how they feel about themselves and how they respond to and with respect to the society around them.


"Boys are more interested in hustling, which is a quick way of making a living, rather than making the commitment to study. This is a supposed to be a street thing which is a male thing.

"The influence of this attitude towards masculinity seems to be having a tremendous impact on how well African-Caribbean and Jamaican males do.

"There's a fear of being categorised as gay in a society where homophobia is so strong."

But recent studies led by  David Gillborn, a leading educator at London University’s Institute of Education suggest Black children are being condemned to failure early in life because of racist attitudes among teachers.

Prof Gillborn said tests being used to measure children’s competence when they start primary school are not only damaging black pupils but that at secondary school level, teachers are entering them for lower tiers of GSCE exams because they believe black pupils are perpetual underachievers, thus damaging their chances of getting the grades that may determine whether or not they continue in education.

Racism is not just about groups like the BNP, he pointed out. But that “well-meaning white professionals who simply do not see equality as a major concern” were guilty of institutional racism.

Prof Gillborn pointed to official data that shows that changes in the assessment of three to five year olds have been linked to a reduction in the attainment of black kids in relation to white pupils.

“Here is one area that black children were doing well and it’s gone overnight,” he said. “There is no evidence of conscious intent. There does not need to be. The normal working of the education system put racial equality at the very margins of debate.

Dr Nicola Rollock, who is a colleague of Prof Gilborn at the Institute of Education, argued that racism was a reality for many black middle-class families. "Parents recognise it as less overt than when they were children, but nonetheless [it is] pervasive in more subtle and coded forms," she said.

"White middle-class parents often presume an entitlement to a good education for their children and [an entitlement] to educational success. Black middle-class parents are there to protect their children and insist on high standards," she said.

"Their own negative experiences of school, the labour market and wider society, on account of their race, means that they recognise that they do not have the same security of entitlement as their white counterparts. Black middle-class parents with whom we spoke often find it necessary to actively demonstrate their knowledge about education, their interest and their capability as parents to white teachers in order that they be engaged with as equals."

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers expressed similar sentiment: "There are obviously issues for black boys both in Jamaica and the UK. We need system-wide reform to ensure that the system does not disadvantage black boys,” she told the BBC. "Experience tells us that some black boys do achieve, and what we have to do is replicate those systems which enabled them to achieve success."  


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