SELF IMPROVEMENT: Education campaigners say black
community must finance their own supplementary schools
SUPPLEMENTARY SCHOOLS for black children must stop relying on state handouts, an education activist has warned.
Nia Imara, head of the National Association for Black Supplementary Schools, said it was time for the community to support its own initiatives.
His call follows a decision last month from the Conservative-run Croydon Council to slash its Education Community Grants Programme which provides mentoring and extra tuition for the south London borough’s black and ethnic minority children.
The decision was met with anger from parents, pupils and volunteers who protested on October 15.
The protest was backed by local councillor Louise Woodley who pleaded with decision-makers to reconsider. The fund was divided between 16 organisations.
Imara said: “Black supplementary schools have been complacent for far too long and have sat back and relied on funding and local government handouts for running costs. Not enough has been done to be self-sufficient.”
He said that now is the time to rally together to raise the necessary funds to ensure these crucial establishments remain open.
“Support for our own educational institutions has been, and continues to be an absolute embarrassment. When are we going to learn to come together as a community and work in unity for the common goal?” he questioned.
Award-winning businessman Pat Reid, who has run a social enterprise in the borough for the past 20 years, said self-sufficiency, was the obvious goal.
He pointed out: “Parents have been contributing, but the economy means many of them are struggling to find extra money.”
As a result, he said, “we are now exploring long-term solutions that will be sustainable and independent of council funding possibly, setting up our own free school.
“The ruling party in Croydon is primarily white and middle class. What do they care if black and minority ethnic children are suffering?”
A council spokesperson told The Voice there was a “reduced need” for the grant because of the success of local schools in developing programmes to meet the needs of the borough’s ethnic population.
“This is reflected in high levels of academic achievement in these groups who frequently outstrip their peers elsewhere in the country,” the spokesman said.
“School attendance has also generally improved and permanent exclusions have been substantially reduced.”
Croydon has one of the worst records of pupil exclusions in the country, with 16 out of every 1,000 kicked out of school, compared with the London average of 10 and national average of 8.
Reid said: “I’m sure schools are doing the best that they can, but we know that when black children enroll in supplementary schools, their educational performance considerably improves.
“The children know that there is somebody who is just there for them not for a salary. They acknowledge that effort, and match it by working harder. That’s why they are so important.”