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Hidden crisis undermines black education and careers


Young black people are underachieving academically because they are being let down by the education system according to Eden Charles, who heads the Sankofa Learning Centre in London for children not involved in mainstream education.

The challenge is to make education more relevant in order to have a positive impact on the lives of an alienated percentage of the black community, Charles said.

Charles told delegates at last week's annual meeting of the Guidance Council that policy makers have to think radically about education and adopt different teaching strategies for different cultures. He called for an urgent and fundamental reappraisal of the national curriculum, which he said was failing many young black children.

Charles, who was a management consultant for 15 years before taking on the challenge of educating young black children, attacked complacency in the education process.

The old solution of throwing more cash at the problem merely offered "more of the same" and was just a waste of money, he explained. And the problems become worse after children had left school and tried to find work.

Although guidance professionals can't do it all by themselves, Charles told delegates that they had a central role to play in making a positive impact on young Black people.

Charles continued, "They leave school with no qualifications so don't get the choices in jobs, training and experience that others get. They have no role models to aspire to, and in their quest for love, identity and respect find only disappointment and rejection."

Charles set out an alternative vision of the future where black children benefited from a diverse and flexible education system, where policy makers thought "outside the box" when it came to providing solutions, and where there was a genuine collaborative partnership between those committed to helping black people transform their lives with those who wanted to transform themselves.

The meeting, attended by guidance professionals, employers, trade unions and learning professionals, also saw the launch of a new Guidance Council campaigning agenda for guidance that encompasses all UK citizens.

Guidance council chief executive Cathy Bereznicki echoed Charles and called for high quality career guidance to be available to all, throughout their lives, and to be an integral and distinct part of all learning and working. She called for national coherence in career information, advice and guidance services throughout the UK, so that people can access the same quality of help no matter where they live.

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