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In the present times, the issue of racism in the sector of education, is stemming into a major problem, affecting not only the educational environment at UK but around the globe. At UK, the YMCA reports suggest that an alarming 95% of Black-British-students have faced racist language, at school. 50% of the male students claim to witness racist language within premises all round the clock (Study: Almost all Black British children have experienced racism at school, 2020). The biggest barrier to racism in education in the UK, comprises of teacher perceptions, which remain prejudiced causing educational success to face a daily struggle. A surplus amount of two-thirds of the student population claim that they lack trust upon the police authorities for fair treatment towards them and this prevents them from lodging police complaints regarding bullying behavior and racism centric behavior at school and within the educational system at UK. The aforementioned discussion of the problem, states why this topic has been selected as a contemporary issue, as it is a major problem which has percolated into every sphere of the system over years and needs to be tackled with discipline in the present and future years to come, keeping in mind the significant benefits it will create for the entire society and nation at large.
In the present study, a critical discussion of the existence of racism in the educational system of UK and the world has been demonstrated, taking reference of the many literary texts and documents which have been published over the years. A thorough secondary research upon the topic has been conducted wherein not only the history of racism in educational sector has been underlined, but also the findings from researches published in international journals, peer-reviewed texts and government websites over the last 10 years have been delved into details. Furthermore, the solutions to tacking the problem of racism have also been discussed in the later section of the study, which has been followed by a summary of the essential points covered in the conclusion section.
In the present section of the essay, a critical analysis and discussion of interplay of racism, anti-racism based understandings, common sense revolving around indigenous and migrant students have been conducted, also taking in consideration teachers' viewpoint and perspective on the topic. As opined by Rizvi (1993), through this focus an endeavor has been made to be vigilant on the multi-faceted-nature and on the mobility of overtly racist thinking and intentioned actions causing racism in educational system (Bryan, 2012).
Stereotypes and prejudiced behavior hamper not only the academic potential of students, but in the long run, goes onto affecting national economics as education forms the base of a nation's economic success, which when goes wrong, percolates deeper onto the job and unemployment problems of the nation. Tackling such structural racism within the education sector requires not only a collaborative approach from the teachers and policy makers but also requires a society-wide initiative for tackling the problem(One-third of children in UK 'have heard racist comments at school', 2020). On top of that, social inequalities have been aggravated during the COVID-19 period, and it is high-time that the black citizens are supported to feel empowered within the education sector, the society and the workplace, as this will benefit the national economic and lead to a holistic development for all.
From the book of Marcus Brook, namely Blind memory, a visual representation has been made on slavery focused upon England during the period of 18th-19th century (Donington, et al., 2016). The author takes in consideration the 'abolition-map' of Thomas-Clarkson, developed in 1808, for charting visual relationships amongst important people and the events, which led to abolition of the practice of slavery during the period (Brown, 2012). History can be re-imagined from the map, wherein a tale of triumph has been represented, of the values of white civilized men over repressive forces. Through this the ability of black people as an irresistible and active force bringing change has been erased. This though obscene remains significant enough to understand how a similar-fashion has been followed by the educational policy-makers as well as by several educationists in formulation of education-policy for UK over time, with dramatic changes but with the so-called best intentions. Such a white-washed and sanitized historic version suggests how educational policy has been shaped over the years, as a rational change process of development, that has evolved in a linear fashion. However such approach remains contradictory to the reality existing within politics and racial discrimination in UK, wherein every important public-policy developed for improving racial-equity have directly arisen through Black protests and resistances of other minority based communities. Yet another example, in the sector of education and educational policy considers the establishment of the inquiry committee of 1979, which inquired upon education of ethnic-minority based children, set only after growing Black community protests for the same (Troyna, and Carrington, 2011). This was supported by Cole, (2011), suggesting another brief boost received in development of multicultural education, after uprisings stemmed up in Bristol and in other places during the early part of the 1980's causing changes in educational policy profile. Hence, there remains a pressing need for viewing the educational policy through the lens of black people, whose real struggles and activist protests lie in the core of the education process, via which educational practice and policies have been shaped over the years.
The mainstream educational policy discourses in UK and Ireland, show limited history in recognizing the racist processes which have been institutionalized in the schools. According to Museus, et al., (2015), these discourses also fail in defining traveler exclusion from participating in educational processes and from participating in educational achievements due to the commonly embedded systematic racist practices. Curricular texts refer to anti-traveler biases in terms of 'prejudice' or in terms of 'discrimination' instead of referring them as 'racist practices' in education system (Leonardo, 2013). However, from the researches of Bryan (2010) and Devine (2009), irrespective of the scanty reference of racism in educational system in the history of Ireland and UK, critical perspectives in the issue have recent stemmed (Kitching, 2011). Thus, in the present day UK, extensive history considering exposed racial-exclusions of students in the educational system, is now available; the work demonstrating salience of cultural background, skin color, religious background to students' experiences of educational achievement and schooling. According to the suggestions of Gillborn (1990), ethnocentrism is a manner, through which teachers who are well-meaning, may act towards racist-effects inside the school premises (Gillborn, 2015). Furthermore, the fact where blackness in youth-styles is considered as threat towards school-management and authorities or where Asian students are assumed as models of minority students, are clear signs of practices in educational system, where 'othering' of students is promoted within their educational behavior and learning prcatices from a tender age (Wong, 2015). Also, schools in UK and in Ireland marginalise across student generations via overt tracking and streaming processes which contributes to fixed and deterministic constructions of the working class and ethnic minority students, their ability, educational potency and learning caliber amidst the minds of the teachers (Gillborn, 2015).
Several researches show ways through which racism barriers to education have been enacted at the levels of structural institutionalization for minority ethnic groups and new migrant student populations in UK. Researches also focus on how failures in supporting such minority groups occur in educational system on a recurrent basis. Some of them comprise of barriers faced by minorities to access higher training and higher education, which resulted to marked failures in the asylum-seeking family students', difficulty in relationships for Nigerians, Muslims, travelers and problems faced within the crime-and-justice-system at UK (Ní Dhuinn, 2017). This was further worsened by the ongoing failures of local authorities in providing adequate traveler accommodation in the UK (Harper, et al., 2011). From the previous researches concerning UK, Ireland and Australia, it has been obtained that due to identity crisis faced by several racial groups and minority groups, the students are often underpinned in educational sites by several racial, gendered and classed norms (Tormey, and Gleeson, 2012). The understandings of the teachers can cause in eliding and enforcing racial meaning within educational systems, by their inconsistent and reflexive referring upon the 'other' students distinguished via geography, race, class, origin or gender. Those understandings can provide explanations as to why some students face difficulties stemming from racial discrimination in the educational system; as teacher conversations lead to formation of determinist notions and trait notions on such minority students.
In order to challenge the contemporary of issue of institutional racism in UK educational system, one of the ways is in critically analyzing how the marginalized students are subjected to a wide range of conditions or discourses circumscribing their affiliation upon the education system, on to their relationship with others and to their identities. The discourses through politics and power relations are imbibed upon them. The underprivileged and black-British students along with their teachers in the educational institutions are subjected upon diverse conditions like prevailing monoculturalism and weak development of an anti-racism based understanding. They are however, treated by the educational policies and institutional policies, as some subjects who may intentionally or inadvertently speak, act, contest or rupture their position in the educational society or schools (Chadderton, 2013). Some other challenges may instead be replayed and repeated within the system, in situations where racism is tried to be countered with racism, leading to being ineffective in locations where high security and surveillance measures are placed upon black students. The unintentional or intentionally acquiescence or contestation of the black or racially diverse students, shape their identities from early pre-school years till their middle-school and high-school years owing to their racial diversity causing them to be classed, racialised and gendered, which eventually shapes their identities in the workplace as they grow up and enter into the job market. Unfortunately, context and inventiveness also act as means through which racism in education remains sustained by the practice. The identity of racially diverse students are shaped in an injurious way every day, by deployment of terms like 'Pocahontas' used to refer to the minority students, they being directed upon as unpopular in the class. From the interviews of teachers, researches have made it clarified on how teachers generate understandings of the racially distinct students by considering discourses on educational success and meritocracy of students wherein for achieving success in education, individual hard work and potential is focused upon by the teachers and not social ascription. The students are aligned on to the fact that learning potential in individuals are fixed and not influenced by biased testing, exclusion from activities or participation like abstract and ethnocentric curriculum. Teacher understandings play a major role in deploying limitless ideas like gender-based conceptions of bad learners or good learners, construction of unhelpful or helpful family structures and social class based fatalism. As opined by Blackwell, (2010), a major focus upon the white people, their interests, needs and concerns has become a fashionable habit of educational bodies, bringing in the danger of white colonization and de-radicalization of multicultural education. On the other hand, Bonnett, (2013), argued that the position due to an obsessive focus upon it, is weakened as the romanticization of racism and blackness leads to class reductionism making it unable in dealing with racism and its complexities in a nuanced manner taking into account many such similar experiences, across the world. Suggesting a different way, Leonardo, (2013), in his research suggested a new approach in dealing with the issue by focusing on finding a critical approach towards it and not an approach which is class reductionist. The author appropriates the concepts from globalization studies, critical pedagogy and whiteness studies arguing for neo-abolitionist positions.
It has been shown through several studies in the past how racism as an issue, race equity and race relations have been differently featured in the UK educational policy. According to (Lynch, 1986), considering the neglect and post-war based ignorance through integrationist and assimilationist policies of the issue, one fact has been clear where it can be suggested that irrespective of numerous measures undertaken to address the UK ethnic diversity over time, and the many superficial changes that followed, a constant feature of racism has remained in place upon the UK educational policies(Troyna, and Carrington, 2011). As an example, the Conservative administrations of 1980-90s' reflected Margaret-Thatcher's assertion where she stated that society does not exist insisting that 'color-blind-perspective' was the one-fair approach, which denied legitimacy to the claims and analyses of certain groups (Cole, 2011). The Major refused to identify the race-based inequality issue and its significance. An indicator of racial equity within the contemporary-education-policy can be obtained from the 5-year-strategy of "Department-of-Education" which was published during 2004. In this document, the Labour's proposal on education policy has been demonstrated; wherein minority ethnic students were only mentioned once within the text as "low-achievers" and "minority-groups" (Gillborn, 2014). "Racism" has not been mentioned nor has the terms of "discrimination" or "prejudice" been mentioned. Surprisingly however, the terms "business" and "standards" appear numerous times; suggesting that though educational policy standards were focused upon, the focus was however never placed upon the "for whom" category . Irrespective of political persuasion in the matter of racial equity in education, the issue has never been taken up front and center by the education policy of UK. This shows how the white supremacy has been implicated within the UK educational policy.
Much work is needed to be conducted for unpacking the politics that still persists within the education system of UK and Ireland concerning racial discrimination, immigration and othering, requiring efforts of not just teachers but also students in the matter. A critical focus must be placed upon how racially distinct and minor students are positioned in a routine basis across a range of marginalised and privileged experiences. Hence a critical-pedagogy examining the exclusion-inclusion implications with teachers and students within community and school settings can form a major part of the curriculum process for commitment towards anti-racism practices. Furthermore, 'self' and 'school' needs must be examined critically (Kitching, 2010). Also students and teachers must be trained and supported to having a context-based and radical approach towards anti-racism, which can eventually encourage students in gaining critical literacy over the discourses and contradictions of UK's educational terrain.
From the study it can be concluded that racial discrimination though an alarming issue prevalent in UK schools, educational policies and the entire academic system, is highly overlooked upon by the education board and policy makers of the nation, which has led to 'othering' and prejudiced behavior upon racially different students and their families, specifically the black students, black boys, Muslim minorities, asylum seekers, ethnic minorities and refugee students. The 5-year educational policy standards, have very little or no mention of the problem which is further aggravated by teacher behavior which distinguishes racially distinct and black children as "others" over their white counterparts. This thereby needs to be critically focused upon from the students' perspectives to analyze the conditions they are subjected to by the school and educational institutions. Furthermore a joint collaborative effort of the teachers, white students, policy makers, community members and racially discriminated students is highly the need of the hour, to educate all about the problem, and what steps must be taken in order to curb it. String guidelines against racial-discrimination must be embodied upon in the school curriculum processes, to streamline the issue as means of reducing its impact over the future years to come.
The topic of racism in the field of education in the UK, has been selected for critical analysis and assessment in the present study, owing to the alarming rise in the issue and the comparative minimal steps being undertaken by the government and the education board in this regard. The YMCA reports showcases an alarming 95% of Black-British-students to have reported facing racist language, at school, amongst which 50% of the male black students claim to witness racist language within school premises all round the clock (Study: Almost all Black British children have experienced racism at school, 2020). Also the present topic has been selected as it is a major problem which has percolated into every sphere of the system over years and needs to be tackled with discipline in the present and future years to come, keeping in mind the significant benefits it will create for the entire society and nation at large. Furthermore, I have focused on this particular issue, as the problem discussed in the present study is aligned with my personal experiences of bullying behavior at school during the elementary school years. I had faced racism in school, wherein I had been subject to avoidance by most of the white students, during the time when I had joined a new school, as a transfer student. After a week of avoidance by the students, and after suffering recurrent failure in trying to start a conversation with them, I had sought the help of my class teacher, who to my dismay, shrugged the problem off, suggesting that I may not get friends of my liking in school, and that I have to adjust with it. The racist behavior declined to some extent after I scored well in a spelling-bee contest and being a meritorious student, won me some amount of closeness with the students, even though it was on grounds on helping them during the examinations. The entire practice and experience etched a deep mark upon me, even till my later years, hampering my self-confidence as I joined work later in life. I believed that the teachers had an important role to play to curb the racial practices and mindset existing amongst students at school level, and that the lacking support from the teachers, is a significant reason behind why the problem of racism still persists within the educational sphere. Through this critical self-reflection of the chosen topic, I aim to indentify my shortcomings and weakness in terms of being a successful practitioner later in life, and to work upon them further, so as to develop them into my strengths and skill-sets. I also plan to identify my strengths and to build upon them, so as to help me achieve success as a teaching practitioner in the future. I also aim to become an ethical practitioner, to act as an instrument towards correcting the ways of prevalent racist practices within the educational system in UK, enlightening the students, families, peers and communities in the way.
Considering the educational policy of UK, an inquiry committee was established during 1979, which inquired upon education of ethnic-minority based children, set only after growing Black community protests for the same (Troyna, and Carrington, 2011). Furthermore taking in consideration the 'abolition-map' of Thomas-Clarkson, as developed in 1808, history has been re-imagined and a tale of triumph has been woven, where the values of white civilized men have been shown to triumph over repressive forces, which in a way draws a picture signifying the inability of black people as an irresistible and active force towards bringing the change (Brown, 2012). The protests and activism of Black men in fighting for equal right in education has hence been erased. This though obscene remains significant enough to understand how a similar-fashion has been followed by the educational policy-makers at UK during education-policy formulation, with claim to portray so-called best intentions for the people involved and being served in the system. Hence, according to me, there remains a pressing need for revisiting and assessing the educational policy through the lens of the minority and suppressed black people, whose real struggles and activist protests lie hidden in the core of the education process. I believe that if the educational policy makers revisit the educational practice and policies from the perspective of the ethnic minorities, then not only will the policy address and cater to the needs of a wider array of students, irrespective of their race, color, culture or creed; but this will also benefit a wider array of people starting from students, shaping our national economy at large, till our teaching practitioners, community and societal members, and social scientists. I also plan to encourage and enlighten students about the issue of racism in education, supporting the students and peers to develop a radical and context-based anti-racism approach, in my future years as I join as an educational practitioner.
Alastair Bonnett, argued that racism, due to an obsessive focus upon it, has been weakened over years as the romanticization of blackness has led to class reductionism making it unable in dealing with racism and its complexities in a nuanced manner (Bonnett, 2013). Suggesting a different way, Leonardo, (2013), in his research suggested a new approach in dealing with the issue by focusing on finding a critical approach towards it and not an approach which is class reductionist. I too believe that a critical approach towards addressing racism in education, is important and more relevant over the other approaches, as through this the problem can not only be better addressed but also appropriate measures can be adopted towards solving the issue in the near future. The class reductionism approach to me, is also not a sound approach towards combating racism in education as it suggests that inequalities caused by gender, race or other identification categories are secondary in terms of importance or may be reduced to economic inequality, suggesting that anti-racist concerns must be dissolved as per demands of economic redistribution.
According to Kitching, (2011) a critical focus must be placed upon how racially distinct and minor students are positioned in a routine basis across a range of marginalised and privileged experiences. Hence a critical-pedagogy examining the exclusion-inclusion implications with teachers and students within community and school settings can form a major part of the curriculum process for commitment towards anti-racism practices. Furthermore, 'self' and 'school' needs must be examined critically (Kitching, 2010). I too, have similar alignment of thought as per that of Kitching, (2011), and I believe that the issues of racism must be understood taking in consideration the perspective of the minority students, and depending upon the many conditions and experiences which they face within their educational career in routine life. Also I believe that the issue will continue to exist within the education system, unless the people in the grass-root level, namely the teachers and the students directly participate in erasing the issue, by taking the matters directly into their hands. I believe that it is support from teachers, and an enlightened teacher perspective, can work wonders in encouraging the other white students and other peers of the minority students, from understanding the problem, which in turn would help in addressing the issue in a more efficient manner. Taking from this, I would like to enhance my perspective on racism furthermore, such that as I progress into becoming a practitioner later in life, I can champion the cause of anti-racism by extending my support to students in understanding how deep-rooted the problem is amidst the education system, by awakening them to the issue and by nurturing and encouraging students in abolishing "othering" in behavior and in minimizing racist behavior or use of racist-languages within educational sector.
To conclude the critical reflection, I have focused upon the relevant secondary literatures existing on racism in education, to identify the burden of the issue, and to delve into the potent solutions which when adopted can help in reducing the effects of the issue over the years to come. I have hence, learnt from the issues discussed, that teacher and student participation remains crucial in solving the issue of racism in education, and hence I aim to work upon my skill sets in the near future, to function as a practitioner who can enlighten students in understanding the gravity of the issue for abolishing the practice of racism from the education system., I also plan to be supportive to the families of students and my peers for extending my help to them, in developing an anti-racist mindset and perspective which can prevent the practice of intentional or unintentional "othering" of students within the educational system.
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