Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Extract from memorandum submitted by the African-Caribbean Network for Science & Technology

  Mission Statement: "The African-Caribbean Network for Science & Technology is an educational charity set up in 1995, with the singular objective to advance the educational achievements and career aspirations of Black youth within the fields of Science, Mathematics & Technology, by engendering the ethos that the pursuit of such qualifications can be fun, empowering and achievable."

  The African-Caribbean Network for Science and Technology has been set up by Black professionals from across the UK, to help Black youth achieve qualifications and jobs in the fields of Science, Technology, Medicine and Engineering. It works with schools and Local Education Authorities (LEA's), colleges and universities, Industry, the statutory/voluntary sectors, and relevant government departments.

  The Network highlights the achievements and contributions of African-Caribbean people (past and present) in the fields of Science, Engineering and Technology (SET), to motivate interest from young African-Caribbeans in these career paths. It also links students with African-Caribbean professionals from the various fields of SET, so they can serve as positive role models.

  Through working with African-Caribbean youth in schools, colleges, universities and in training, it develops career and general interest amongst them in these professions, and provides tutorial support to them as they pursue academic study/qualifications in these fields. The Network provides an educational information service and careers advice for adults and youth in the Black community who have traditionally experienced difficulty in obtaining information regarding academic and career opportunities in SET.


1.  Parliamentary Leadership

  The imperatives of the new Race Relations (Amended) Act impose a duty on parliament to provide leadership and direction on addressing and promoting race equality. In this regard, we would recommend that the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee institute an Enquiry into Race and Gender equality issues in the Science and Technology pipeline (Primary and Secondary schooling, post-16 Further Education and Higher Education and the professions). It is an unfortunate oversight and a sign of how far we lag behind the USA in such good practice, that the Committee has not undertaken such an Enquiry.

2.  Research

  There is a profound paucity of research on Race Equality in Science, Mathematics and Technology, which is pivotal to the development of innovation in curriculum and pedagogy. We recommend that the DTI, OST and DfES commission research in this area, to inform the work of teachers and the general Science community.

3.  Resources

  The DTI, OST and DfES explore mechanisms through which resources can be targeted to address the under-achievement and under-representation of certain ethnic minority groups (such as African-Caribbeans, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis) in Science, Mathematics and Technology.

4.  Teaching materials

  The professional subject associations such as the Association for Science Education (ASE), Association for Teachers of Mathematics (ATM) and the Joint Mathematical Council (JMC), etc. work with partners in the Science, Mathematics and Technology community to provide teaching materials and resources to aid multi-cultural and anti-racist teaching in Science, Mathematics and Technology, in the National Curriculum.

5.  Initial Teacher Training and CPD

  The Teacher Training Agency (TTA) provide leadership and guidance to providers of Initial Teacher Training (ITT), on specific measures to mainstream multi-cultural and anti-racist teaching methodologies, into the curriculum for ITT for Science, Mathematics and Technology teacher trainees, and for OFSTED to follow this through in its inspection framework for ITT providers in colleges and universities.

  We also recommend that the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) framework for Science, Mathematics and Technology teachers include key elements on multi-cultural and anti-racist teaching, to enhance the educational attainment of ethnic minority pupils.


Science and mathematics for Citizenship

  1.1  In Science, while much extensive research has been undertaken into the disadvantage of girls, very little has been done on "race", but the constructs and framework of this disadvantage are very similar. That is; a national curriculum which is prescriptive, content and process-driven, wholly eurocentric, and denying the global contributions of other cultures to science. So that "western" science which is bound up with a particular historical, cultural and geographical context, is elevated to represent the only real truth and valid methodology (Thorp, 1996). Is this not political? Barry Troyna and Steve Farrow3 wrote of the processes of science: The very methodology by which we, as teachers, encourage the learning of science, is also the best vehicle for anti-racist education, and although there may be reasons for turning away from the commitment and responsibility that this brings, there certainly can be no excuses for doing so.

Curriculum Access: Racism and anti-racism in Mathematics and Science Education

  1.2  The National Curriculum in England and Wales, is based on a prescriptive, content and process-driven view of Mathematics, Science and Technology, as a result of which, issues of access to the Mathematics, Science and Technology curriculum for all students, have been dismissed as the concerns of a political minority. And yet, the recent National Curriculum review suggests that the school curriculum should develop pupil's knowledge, understanding and appreciation of their own and different cultures and enable them to challenge discrimination and stereotyping. The Revised General Statement on Inclusion states: Providing for the diversity of Pupil's needs:

  1.3  Pupils bring to school different experiences, interests and strengths which affect their ability to respond to learning opportunities. Teaching and learning approaches within each subject should be planned to enable the full effective participation of all pupils. Planning should set high expectations and provide relevant opportunities for achievement for boys and girls, for pupils from all social backgrounds and ethnic groups and for those who are disabled.

  1.4  Teachers should be aware of the requirements of the specific equal opportunities legislation governing race, gender, and disability when planning for the diversity of pupils' needs.

  1.5  Teachers should assist all pupils to achieve high standards by:

    —  Using a broad range of teaching approaches which help pupils to sustain motivation, maintain concentration and learn effectively.

    —  Planning work and targets in ways which will build on pupils' experiences, interests and strengths and develop pupils' self-esteems and confidence in their ability to learn.

    —  Using curriculum and assessment materials which are drawn, as appropriate, from different cultures and which are free from discrimination or stereotyping.

    —  Providing appropriate support to ensure that any potential barriers to learning or assessment are overcome.

    —  Using, and developing pupils' ability to respond to a variety of assessment approaches which allow attainment and competence to be demonstrated.

    —  Planning and monitoring the pace at which work is presented to enable all pupils to learn effectively.

  1.6  The processes of learning Mathematics and Science should contribute to children's "transferable skills", enabling them to be able to think critically and hypothetically about issues, including racism and equality, and their role in a multicultural society. It is clear, however, that many teachers feel unable to take this step from the exploration and understanding of science, to the exploration and understanding of society. This will come as no surprise if we consider how science is regarded, and how little the debates about the role of science in society, including the 30 year old debate about "race", and the contributions that other cultures, and world views, have made to our understanding of the world—have been addressed by mainstream educationalists. Many Mathematics and Science teachers bemoan the feeling of being pulled in two directions by the National Curriculum. They feel they are being pulled in the direction of skills and knowledge, often in a very mechanistic way, by the programmes of study, on the one hand, and in the direction of personal development, responsibility within society, and citizenship on the other, by the General Inclusion Statements.

  1.7  The view is sometimes expressed that of all disciplines, Mathematics is the most culture free. Mathematical structures are, after all, essentially abstract and have their own internal consistency, and so they do not depend on the culture and context in which they are taught and learned.

  1.8  On the whole, textbooks and other resources for teaching Mathematics and Science, have been produced with little awareness of the dangers of reinforcing racist stereotypes. The situations used as examples, the people in the texts, the roles they play, and the pictorial illustrations, all contribute to this. A recent study by Job Francis (1997), an African-Caribbean mathematics teacher in a predominantly Black secondary school in Birmingham, for his MEd thesis, confirmed the extent of this problem in British Textbooks/Examination Papers. This research was modelled on the previous survey of Black images in 17 College/high school Mathematics/physics textbooks, by Dr John Pappademos, Professor of Physics, University of Illinois (in Van Sertima, "Blacks in Science", 1983), in the United States. Francis analysed 33 Mathematics textbooks and nine examination test papers, currently in use in his school, and in another large inner-city multi-ethnic secondary school in Birmingham, to assess, whether these books had the potential to reinforce racial stereotypes, which subsequently denigrate the intellectual and mathematical/scientific abilities of Black pupils. The method utilised in his survey, involved the examination of each page and noting, by way of a tally mark, when an image appeared, either in the form of a picture, caption or illustration.

  1.9  Francis found that of the 562 pages which showed images, only 29 pages showed images of Black, Asiatic, and other non-white racial groups. Of those images shown of Blacks, a similar pattern to that observed by Pappademos occurred, in that there was praise and or extensive discussion of the work of European scientists and mathematicians (Levoisier, Achtar, Dalton, Koch, Newton, Currie etc), but this mark of respect and acknowledgement, was not given to a single non-white scientist or mathematician. The most prominent images of Blacks presented were as athletes or musicians. The stereotypical role of Black women in servitude, and Africa as a poorly-educated, emaciated populace is also portrayed. As in the case of Pappedemos, neither a single scientific or mathematical discovery, was identified or pictured, as being of African origin, nor is a single Black scientist credited with a scientific contribution. The message suggested by Jenner (1988) that "only white boys participate in Maths" is still implied by these mathematics books in Francis's survey. Francis's results are particularly disturbing, given the nation-wide popularity of this particular Mathematics scheme/examination papers, in many secondary schools in Britain.

  1.10  Torkington (1996) defines this process as the "social construction of knowledge", whereby ideas which emanate from powerful groups or individuals will be presented as objective knowledge. It is ultimately this knowledge which forms the basis of commonsense understanding, making people in a given society feel and believe, that this, is the only truth.

  1.11  She then goes on to assert that, in order to challenge what is currently accepted as knowledge, one must review knowledge from the perspective of disempowered groups. The feminist critique arose from this kind of reasoning. This reasoning informed Van Sertima's Book (1989), "Blacks in Science", whose impact on mainstream society, has made the whole ground, upon which conventional studies of Africa have been built, rock violently, and this is only because, "the nerve of the world has been deadened for centuries, to the vibrations of African genius."

  1.12  The impact of Zaslavsky's Book "Africa Counts" (1979), on the contextualisation of the socio-mathematics of Africa, has been similarly challenging.

  1.13  The evidence about how "race" has been discredited as a scientific concept, and how it has been used as a tool, for generations of discrimination against non-white communities and societies, has long been available to scientists and teachers. Global approaches have shown how other cultures' use of technology, and the knowledge they have acquired outside the scientific western framework, is a rich seam to mine in the classroom. Publications such as the Association for Science Education (ASE)'s Race, Equality and Science Teaching books, and the Mathematical Association (MA)'s "Mathematics in a Multicultural Society"—have attempted to show how these perspectives can be brought directly into the curriculum, in ways that can enhance relevance and interest for students in science and mathematics, and involve them in making links for themselves about the global contexts of science and mathematics, their inherent contradictions, and the impact that scientific "advances" have had on the world and its inhabitants—human and non-human. It is thus unfortunate to find in our work with schools, that few of the mathematics and science educators, consider these issues to be of concern to their everyday professional lives, and none of them utilised these materials from the ASE and the MA, in their multi-ethnic classrooms.

Teacher expectation and Teacher/Pupil relationships

  1.14  There is now firmly entrenched in most white teachers minds in Britain, what we in the African-Caribbean Network for Science and Technology, define as "a racial hierarchy of teacher expectation", which is a kind of subversive racial pecking order that operates in most schools. Asian and white pupils are expected and even encouraged to achieve in Mathematics, Science and Technology, while Black children are expected and overly-encouraged to achieve in non-academic subjects like Sports, Music and the Arts. This racial-stereotyping is now endemic in British schools, and a considerable amount of effort will be needed, to challenge and change teachers' attitudes and expectations of Black pupils, in Mathematics and Science subjects. (Rasekoala, 1997)

  1.15  The impact of this negative stereotyping of Black pupils, is even more profound, given that over the course of time, many third, fourth and fifth generation Black pupils have now, unfortunately, internalised these expectations of failure, and are left with nagging doubts, of their true academic potential, with a feeling, as articulated by a pupil, "that no matter how hard you work in school, even when you get praised by teachers, you are never sure that you have reached your full potential. There is always that doubt, and you're never sure."

  1.16  There is a growing body of evidence regarding the deteriorating nature of the relationships between Black pupils, and white teachers in schools; A recent national poll undertaken by Amenta Marketing (Research) Ltd, shows that nearly four in 10 Black children, would prefer to attend an all-Black school, while one in five think they have recently suffered racism from a teacher. Gillborn and Gipps (1996) in their recent review of research on the achievements of Ethnic minority pupils, indicated that:

    —  Black pupils are four to six times more likely than their white peers to be excluded from school;

    —  qualitative research frequently points to a relatively high level of tension, even conflict, between White teachers and African-Caribbean pupils;

    —  despite their shared position as "minorities", African-Caribbean and Asian pupils can be subject to different expectations. Teachers often view Asian pupils as being better behaved, more highly motivated and of relatively higher ability in comparison with African-Caribbean pupils; and

    —  qualitative approaches reveal a considerable gulf between the daily reality experienced by many Black pupils, and the stated goal of equal opportunities for all.

  1.17  Similar findings have been reported from other research, the Leicestershire African-Caribbean Survey found that, "a high proportion of Black children do not enjoy or like school, for reasons such as lack of material about Black culture and history, unfair treatment, and the failure of teachers to understand or appreciate the experiences of African-Caribbean children." (Lyle et al, 1996). Vance (1997) has reported similar experiences in the Lambeth Raising Achievement Project. His discourse on how white teachers, in defining the idealised pupil, create the Black pupil as the "bete noir", the pupil who does not subscribe to their ethos, and thus, forced to become the outsider, is illuminating. Pam Smith's research in schools in Croydon (1997), is refreshing in letting Black pupils articulate in their own "language", their feelings and experiences regarding relationships with white teachers.

The Role of the media, Role Models and Cultural Cohesion

  1.18  For Black youth, their disenchantment at the seeming lack of cultural integrity in some of their Black role models, is further compounded, by their profound disappointment at the media's poor and stereotypical representations of Black people. Black youth are just as much, major consumers of the multimedia age, as their white and Asian counterparts, but feel very much let down by it. Comments like this, are atypical: "The only time you see a Black person on TV, is when they are doing sports or music, or as criminals. You never see them as doctors, or lawyers, or doing anything important." This they believe, makes it much harder for them to challenge teachers' and society's low expectations of them, and depresses their morale and aspirations.

  1.19  African youngsters express similar frustrations, but affirm a stronger sense of cultural cohesion, due to the strong links their parents maintain with Africa, and their visits there.

    "On the TV, they never show anything good about Africa. It's always fighting and people starving. I've been to visit my family in Ghana, and it's not like that. It was really nice, and I saw Black people doing all the important jobs everywhere."

  1.20  This natural sense of empowerment and confidence, from being exposed to Black people in a variety of roles, status, and jobs, is of the greatest positive impact on the morale of British-born African children, regarding their visits to Africa. Their parents note a marked positive change, in their educational achievements and career aspirations following these visits, and many African parents see these visits as more than just a holiday for themselves and their children, but as a powerful tool, with which to sustain their children's educational achievements and high aspirations, particularly, in numerate and technical fields. A parent used the analogy of an "antidote to a poison", to describe what these visits to Africa, meant to her and her children. Many parents save zealously, and sometimes even went without, to afford these visits, to relatives in Africa. African-Caribbean parents and youngsters, express similar benefits from their visits to the Caribbean.

  1.21  Asian pupils express the strongest sense of cultural cohesion and confidence, which they believe, very much underpins their achievements and aspirations. They understand the "fear" of success in their Black colleagues, but are very much free from it, as their male and female role models, were an intrinsic part of their communities, and thus shared their "lifestyles" and cultural integrity. They did not subscribe to any notions of successful Asians "selling out". If anything, they gave more to the community. While sharing the frustrations of their Black colleagues at the poor representation of ethnic minorities in the media, they did acknowledge, that the images of Asians, did tend to be more positive, than those of Black people.

  1.22  The strongest frustrations were expressed but some Asian boys, regarding the flip-side of racial stereotyping in schools and mainstream society, whereby they were only expected and encouraged, to achieve in numerate and scientific subjects, while on the other hand, being perceived as lacking in creative and artistic skills. Many Asian boys, who are as football and music "mad", as their white and Black peers, were very disappointed at the lack of support and encouragement they received, from teachers in these fields. "We never get to go on the school football team, we practice just like the others, but Sir never puts any of us on the team. It is always the Black boys that get on the team." Similar frustrations were expressed regarding Arts and other humanities subjects, like Drama and Music. Asian pupils wish that in an ideal world, they would be free to develop their interests in the various fields, without effectively being excluded from creative and artistic subjects.

  1.23  Muslim pupils (Pakistani & Bangladeshi) express concerns that their educational achievements are depressed in comparison to other Asian pupils, because they are having to deal with the additional "baggage" of the "anti-muslim" factor in British society, and thus in schools. They believe that some teachers perceive them differently, and negatively, because they are Muslim.

Careers Guidance

  1.24  The role of the Careers and Guidance Services, is pivotal in directing the aspirations and career choices of many ethnic minority youngsters, in the post-16 environment. Our work with schools and parents, uncover major failings of Careers officers, in providing Black youngsters with positive career paths. Many Black parents complain of their children being encouraged into low status and low skilled careers, in the service industries, like catering, which were not commensurate with their qualifications. Black students are rarely encouraged by Careers Officers to take-up careers or further study in numerate or technical fields, even when they are more than qualified, interested, and suitable, for these career and study paths. There is very strong evidence once again, of racial stereotyping, with Black youngsters being over-represented in the take-up of non-academic NVQ/GNVQ courses (25 per cent compared to 12 per cent for white pupils and 15 per cent for Asian pupils) and very much under-represented in academic "A" level courses (13 per cent compared to 32 per cent for white pupils and 27 per cent for Asian pupils).

  1.25  To illustrate this, I will quote a letter sent to me on 5 February 1996, by a young Black student in Liverpool.

    "Dear Mrs Rasekoala,

    I am a student studying A-level mathematics, chemistry, physics and general studies. My intended career is chemical engineering and, as an African, I have fears of taking this course. I read an article on "The African-Caribbean Network for Science and Technology" and I would like to have more information about this, especially about possible universities and job opportunities for chemical engineering in the UK. Thank you."

  1.26  There was no name on this letter, just a Liverpool address in Toxteth. My distress on receiving this letter, prompted me to go to Liverpool on the following Sunday, to look for this young person. On meeting this student, and her family, I was dismayed to hear their horror stories of the experiences, that had led to this girl's desperation in writing to me secretly. Student X (to protect confidentiality) is a very bright, very able and committed Black girl, who, because of her academic ability, is attending a selective state school, which is in the top ten nationally. She and her parents, told me of the major difficulties they had encountered from some teachers in her school, and the Careers Service in Liverpool, in getting any information and support, regarding her career aspirations, to study chemical engineering at University. At every step, they encountered racial stereotyping and put-downs, such as "why don't you go in for a catering course?", and "why not go in for teaching, and teach Chemistry?" etc. The message to them was loud and clear. Yes, we accept your daughter is bright, but we think she is overreaching herself, and we will only offer you support, when her aspirations, conform to our low expectations.

  1.27  Through the support of our organisation, Student X received prospectuses from a number of universities with Chemical Engineering departments, filled in her UCAS forms, and having completed her degree course, has recently commenced employment with a major utilities provider in the UK. Her story is so distressing and frightening, because it poses the question: "if this is the support that our brightest and best youngsters, are getting from the Careers Service, what hope is there for the less able and committed?" Student X's case is typical of the many phone calls and letters we receive from Black parents and students.

The "Colour-Blind" Approach in Initial Teacher Training

  1.28  The same "colour-blindness", which is prevalent on most University Initial Teacher Training courses, ends up producing, primary and secondary teachers, who perpetuate in our schools, the subject-based disadvantage in Mathematics and Science, of Black students. Thus the cycle is perpetuated!

  1.29  It is deeply worrying that as concerns have grown over the decades, regarding the educational disadvantage of African-Caribbean pupils, the framework for the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Curriculum, has significantly reduced the scope for the inclusion of multi-cultural and anti-racist education, in the preparation of newly qualified teachers (NQTs). Turner and Turner (1987) have shown that university departments of education differ greatly, in the priority they attach to multicultural education. Cole (1989) found that, 21 out of 61 BEd students (34 per cent) surveyed during their first week, at a teacher training institution, in the South of England, gave responses, which he categorised as "Intentionally Racist", and a further eight (13 per cent), "Unintentionally Racist".

  1.30  Issues related to ethnic diversity and racism in schools, have never featured highly in teacher education in Britain. Recent moves to shift initial teacher education into schools, have further weakened the situation. Reiss (1994), conducted a study to investigate the levels of awareness/views of Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) Science students, on multicultural/anti-racist science education. This study was conducted with two different cohorts of PGCE science students: one in 1990, the other in 1994. Reiss's findings showed that, the 1994 cohort, were less well informed about certain aspects of multi-cultural/anti-racist education, than the 1990 cohort of students. The intervening four years were a time of great educational change in England and Wales, with the time PGCE students spent in higher education, on their PGCE course, substantially reduced, in favour of longer school-based placements. He adds, it is most unusual, in my experience, to find PGCE science students demonstrating a multicultural or anti-racist perspective in their teaching, and while accepting there might be mitigating reasons for this, goes on to assert that the particular contribution of higher education in respect of multicultural/anti-rascist education may be to enable students, in a setting temporarily removed from the pressing exigencies of everyday life in school to explore their own understandings and develop an appropriate conceptual framework.

  1.31  In our work with Science and Mathematics teachers in multi-ethnic schools, most of them confirm that they had received no formal training on multicultural/anti-racist Mathematics/Science education, during their time in teacher training. This applies equally to those who had undertaken the one-year PGCE course, and those who had undertaken the three-year BEd course. Many of the NQTs we work with, express their disappointment and sense of "betrayal", at this omission in their training, especially in view of the fact that most teaching vacancies, had turned out to be in the multi-ethnic inner-city schools, for which they had been so inadequately prepared. They felt that they had been set up to fail, and this lingering sense of inadequacy, left them feeling bitter, about their experience of teacher training. Our organisation regularly receives letters and phone calls from NQTs, requesting advice and guidance on strategies for raising the achievements of their Black pupils.


The Disappliance of Science and Design and Technology at KS4 and African-Caribbean pupils

  1.32  Our organisation, during the consultation phase of the above proposal, did raise a number of objections, to the disappliance of Science, and Design and Technology, at KS4, precisely because of the disproportionate effects this would have on Ethnic Minority pupils. Unfortunately these concerns are now a depressing reality. We are building up a body of evidence from multi-ethnic schools, which suggest, that as we had feared, African-Caribbean pupils are disproportionately over-represented in the numbers of pupils disapplied from Science and Design and Technology at Key Stage 4.

  1.33  In a sense, this is not surprising, given the fact that they are already disproportionately over-represented in the lower sets/streams for Science at Key Stages 3 and 4. This long tail of under-achievement in Science, following on from their high levels of achievement at Key Stage 1 and 2, is a grave cause for concern, and an inequality of outcomes, which the disappliance of Science at Key Stage 4, further exacerbates. We believe that the only effective means of addressing this issue, is through the effective monitoring by gender and ethnicity, of the pupils disapplied from Science at KS4. This will have the effect of making schools aware of the patterns of under-achievement and inequality, so that they can put in place the strategies needed to sustain the achievement of underachieving groups in Science.

  1.34  In this climate of disappliance, the need for comprehensive ethnic monitoring, and effective strategies for raising the attainment of African-Caribbean pupils in Science, is even more acute, in countering the inherent inequalities of this policy.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT): The Digital Divide

  1.35  The poorer socio-economic status of some ethnic minorities, means that they are effectively priced out of access to ICT equipment, software and accessories. This increasing social exclusion has profound implications for the education, training, employment and life chances of many in ethnic minority communities. It also means that they are excluded from a powerful communication highway of the Internet, and its access to goods and services.

  1.36  The Cabinet Office—Social Exclusion Unit (SEU), undertook, through its Policy Action Team 15 (PAT 15), to address the access and use of ICTs by people living in the poorest neighbourhoods. A key part of the remit of PAT 15's work involved looking at issues relating to Ethnic Minority communities. It found the following:

    —  Black and Ethnic Minority groups experience all of the same problems which effect people generally in deprived neighbourhoods including poverty, unemployment, poor educational achievement, crime, etc. These however, are exacerbated by a number of issues specific to Black and Ethnic Minority groups, including;

    —  Racism.

    —  Institutional racism—within the work place, and from public services.

    —  Poor perception of Black and Ethnic Minorities, by peers and the general public.

    —  Inadequate recognition of the complexity of Black and Ethnic Minorities and their needs.

    —  Language barriers: for some ethnic minorities, English is at best, a second language; thus the dominance of English as the language medium of computer keyboards, software programmes such as Word, Excel, etc and on the Internet, means that without good knowledge of English people face a number of barriers in using ICTs.

    —  Religious and cultural differences: for some communities, women's activities are constrained by cultural background. Women from some backgrounds feel very uncomfortable undertaking learning or other community activity in a mixed gender environment.

  1.37  A key recommendation from the PAT 15 group is that the Government undertake specific and focused research to explore the issues and strategies involved in enhancing the participation of ethnic minorities in ICT, and this recommendation has been taken up by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), which has commissioned research in line with the PAT 15 recommendations.


  2.1  There is a profound paucity of good practice in this area, and the little that exists is as a result of work undertaken by the African-Caribbean Network for Science and Technology in partnership with other organisations. In this regard our organisation has been a catalyst for activity in this area.

The Ishango Science Clubs

  2.2  The After-school and study support initiatives, in Manchester/Trafford, Liverpool, Birmingham, Nottingham and the London Borough of Southwark are an innovative provision for African-Caribbean youth. They form the flagship of the good practice and centres of excellence, for the achievement of African-Caribbean youth in SET, which is a core aim of The Network. Hence their name—Ishango Science Clubs, after the Ishango Bone, a carved bone, over 11,000 years old. This carved bone, discovered at Ishango, on the shore of Lake Edward in Zaire (Congo), indicates early evidence of a calendrical/numeration system, in that part of Africa.

  2.3  The Ishango Science Clubs provide tutorial and study educational support for African-Caribbean pupils, by providing a place where they can come for guidance, help, support, and encouragement, with their learning, during out-of-school hours. This enrichment programme to raise their educational achievements in Mathematics, Science, Technology and other related subjects, also includes homework support, course work and exam revision support, and the development of core skills. Other programmes aimed at motivating young people to learn, such as peer training and mentoring, also take place. The Clubs aim to achieve the following:

    —  To improve/enhance achievement levels of students within the National Curriculum.

    —  To improve the confidence/motivation/independent learning/self-study skills of students.

    —  To improve teaching/learning materials in the National Curriculum.

    —  To modify assessment procedures/methods towards more culturally sensitive models.

    —  To improve teaching methodology to increase engagement and achievement by being more culturally relevant.

    —  To inform and enhance teaching and learning in mainstream schools.

    —  To enhance students' knowledge of post-16 opportunities in Science, Engineering and Technology.


    —  Improved SAT's scores of the pupils in the Ishango Science Clubs, at Key Stages 2 and 3.

    —  The improved grades at GCSE level and beyond, of the participants in the Ishango Science Clubs.

    —  An increase in the number of African-Caribbean youth taking up and succeeding in Science specialities beyond the core National Curriculum subjects at GCSE level, which will enable them to pursue Science specialities at higher levels.

    —  An increase in the number of African-Caribbean youth taking up and succeeding in Science and Mathematics at "A" Level and GNVQ level (post-16).

    —  An increase in the number of African-Caribbean youth taking up and succeeding in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Technology, Medicine and other related subject areas at University and Colleges throughout the UK.

    —  A reduction in the levels of disaffection with mainstream education among the participants in the Ishango Science Clubs.

    —  An increase in the awareness and involvement of African-Caribbean parents with the educational advancement of their children.

January 2002

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