Adolph Cameron, the head of the Jamaican Teachers’ Association said that Afro-Caribbean black boys in Britain are failing academically because they perceive success in education as ‘gay’.

Speaking about his own observations regarding Jamaican black schoolboys and why they shun education, Mr Cameron spoke to The Telegraph (Black schoolboys underachieving because ‘academic success is seen as gay’: By Murray Wardrop: 21 October, 2011), saying, “That notion of masculinity says that if as a male you aspire to perform highly it means you are feminine, even to the extent of saying you are gay. But in the context of Jamaica, which is so homophobic, male students don’t want to be categorised in that way so that they would deliberately underperform in order that they are not.”

Cameron believes that the same observations can be found in England where masculinity is associated with hustling, gangs and earning fast money.

According to the Telegraph report Afro-Caribbean boys are one of England’s worst performing ethnic groups in schools.

Shunning education is unblack

The belief amongst some in the black community that education is uncool or ‘unblack’ is actually contradictory. African slaves fought and died for the right to educate themselves, in fact education was one of the main inspirations of many African anti slavery abolitionists and black leaders such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

Shunning education is actually ‘unblack’, and black boys should be taught this at home and in schools.

Not forgetting other influencing factors

There are also other influencing factors, arguably more convincing than Cameron’s beliefs, such as the role of black fathers in the lives of their children. In March 2010, MP, David Lammy gave a speech today at the Runnymede Trust about the role black fathers should be playing in the lives of their children. He said that 59 percent of Black Caribbean and 44 percent of Black African children are raised in single parent households.  He also said that children who grow up without a strong relationship with their fathers tend to suffer from lower self esteem and less life chances. (Read Lammy discusses black fatherhood)

There is also the role of racism in education. In April 2010, a study found that teachers systematically marked down black pupils because of stereotypes and low expectations. The study found that black pupils perform consistently better in external exams than when it came to teacher assessments. (Read Black pupils marked down by teachers according to report)

Black parents marched outside Downing Street in 2005, protesting against an education system which disproportionately excludes black pupils.

On April 30, 2003, the Sunday Mercury revealed that 5 teachers from black and minority ethnic backgrounds were being forced out of their jobs every year in the Midlands because of racism.

The English education system is far from racially inclusive and tolerant. All these factors must play a significant role in continually reinforcing the negative self identity of Afro-Caribbean boys.

Yet the signs are not all bad, 40 percent of Afro-Caribbean boys gained five good GCSEs last year. What factors, both in the home environment and on a personal level influences this 40 percent to succeed? This is what Cameron and other teachers should be looking at.

Black History Month should be used to drive the message home to young black youths that education is a key element of the black struggle for independence.

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