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
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.
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.
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
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'
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
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
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 worldhave 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
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
inhabitantshuman 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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
The "Colour-Blind" Approach in Initial
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
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
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 OfficeSocial 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,
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
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. GOOD PRACTICE
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
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
nameIshango 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
An increase in the awareness and
involvement of African-Caribbean parents with the educational
advancement of their children.