Sunday, October 03, 2004

So now we are illiterate?

Caribbean Born students most at risk

So exactly how was I supposed to interpret this statement:

"Board officials concede the existence of the literacy test as a graduation requirement raises the possibility that the dropout rate among black students will rise still further."

So does this mean that black students are illiterate especially the ones coming from the Caribbean? As far as I know the Caribbean has always been a region that has boasted highly about its literacy rate. Also if I can set the record straight, contrary to popular belief, people in the Caribbean don't live in huts and wear grass skirts. Got it?

So does literacy now mean the ability to speak without an accent? This is Toronto 3 out of 4 people have some sort of non-north American accent. Does this make them illiterate? If I say 'tree' instead of 'three' or a Jamaican says 'bwoy' instead of 'boy' does this make us both illiterate? What the ?

That said I willingly admit that I think black students are not doing as well in Canadian schools as they should be and since the majority of black persons in Toronto are of some sort of Caribbean descent (this statistic will probably change in the next 5 years) then there is some truth to the gist of this article but that doesn't stop me from being offended when I read the silly statement above.

So why aren't black Caribbean students doing well in Canadian schools? Well for one I think that many teachers here have some bias towards black students. I cant prove it as thankfully I never went through the Canadian school system until University but from discussions with others who have I came to this conclusion. This appears especially true when those Caribbean students live in certain poorer areas of the city. I believe the teachers go into those schools with preset biases against the students. The "look at where they are from no way they will ever amount to anything so why try" syndrome. So the teachers don't try and the students can sense this and it in turn affects their performance.

Also in some cases students from the Caribbean come here with a higher level of education for their age group and are forced to do remedial classes because of their accent or just because their parents or guardians are not aware of how the system works here. They then end up bored and then they goof off and fool around and before you know it a promising future is down the drain as they give up on formal education.

Now that I have taken the system to task let me also deal with the parents. There is an onus on black parents to make sure that their kids put in the effort in the education system. It is not enough to be satisfied as parents that you can put food on their plate and clothing on their backs although this is an important aspect of rearing. Parents must find the time to check on their children's performance in school. Go to parent teachers meetings, if that's not possible because of your work schedule make sure you still get some sort of rapport with the teachers so that you have an idea of what the children are learning and what is expected of them.

Also instill in the child the importance of education. Very very important this is. To me it appears as if previous generations of black parents stressed this education value to their offspring more than this generations parents. Maybe its because a lot of this generations parents may have gone through the system and found that they did not achieve as much as they hoped and maybe they believe it is a waste for their kids to try. I would completely disagree with this theory. Nothing beats a trial but a failure I always heard.

Now If you look at the plight of Caribbean immigrants and their offspring in Toronto it appears to me that advances have been very slow. I would even surmise that since the 60s when the first Caribbean immigrants poured into Toronto and Montreal things haven't really changed. We are still struggling with few of us advancing. Other immigrants have come since us and built stronger communities in less time. Why is this? While a lot of blame must be placed on the system that still treats us in some cases as second class citizens and fears us as they have declared us murderers , thugs and villains we must also look within ourselves.

Do not say the system is biased and then do nothing. Try as you must to counter and battle to change this bias. Doing nothing but complaining or accepting what occurs just plays right into the hands of those that would forever view us as second class citizens. It does nothing to help our plight. To quote Outkast and Goodie mob "You got to get up, get out and get sumting how will you make it if you never even try, you need to get up, get out and get sumting, cause you and I got to do for you and I."

Recognize that the revolution will not be televised.

1 comment:

Abeni said...

Remedial because you are ahead sounds so strange.It hard but parents have to push the children to not get discouraged.I know some kids at my school tell me they can make a living without formal education. Yeah they referring to the drug trade among other things which looks real attractive to them.