Ensure access to equitable education

Although some Black African ethnic subgroups exhibit high levels of academic success and high social mobility, this research focusses on barriers that are too often misinterpreted, under-reported, overlooked and misrepresented through empirical research, which renders some African ethnic subgroups invisible. Thus, it is critical that academic interventions for Ethiopian and Eritrean students become a national priority. Giving their academic struggles and obstacles, there is a need to take strategic action to address the following key issues:

Access to early years’ education

According to the study findings, Black African children are less likely to have access to early years’ education that prepares them for primary school. In particular, children of Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees are more likely to be disadvantaged before they even start their primary school. This early education gap often sets the stage for years of academic struggle for some children. In order to close the early years education gap, the British government needs to offer all refugee and immigrant children equal access to high-quality early childhood education programmes that ensure they all begin school academically prepared.

Focus on secondary- and post-secondary-school transition

Secondary-school transition

As an African parental involvement officer pointed out, the transition from primary to secondary school is a challenging and uncertain process for many African students, and they have difficulty in adjusting to a new school. This is especially problematic for students such as Tariq and Peter, whose experiences mean that they require additional social support to thrive both academically and socially. Based on these findings, East African school adolescents require assistance in making the transition from primary school to secondary school.

Secondary school and the opportunity to learn

The findings show how East African students are less likely to have access to qualified and experienced teachers and are more likely to face low expectations and attend socially and racially segregated schools. This educational inequity continues to have a significant impact on mathematics and science outcomes. The opportunity gaps identified in Chapter 5 represent important barriers that may help explain East African students’ poor academic performance, secondary school dropout, poor college-readiness and low higher education participation. Notably, the school adolescents have expressed their struggle in learning certain academic subjects such as mathematics and science. In order to close the gaps in mathematics and science achievements, schools need to work towards a more equitable system by providing the following:

  • Quality of teachers and instructional practices: The poor mathematics and science achievement levels of the participants could be indicative of the quality of their teachers and of the instructional practices that they experience. To be cognitively and academically ready to attend college, schools need to ensure that teachers are qualified and trained to meet the academic, cultural and social needs of East African students.
  • Access to rigorous courses: As noted earlier, EAL Black African students are more likely to be placed in lower-ability classroom where they lack access to rigorous course and challenging academic work, which places East African students at a distinct disadvantage in terms

Implication for policy and practice 167 of college-readiness and success in post-secondary education. In this respect, schools need to provide a rigorous and relevant curriculum that engages and challenges them, and more access to the advanced placements and support programmes that would help them succeed.

• Providing after-school programmes: The study has shown how the supplementary schools and homework clubs are instrumental in offering academic support to the school adolescents in completing their academic work. Currently, due to a lack of funding, there are no supplementary schools available to help Ethiopian and Eritrean school adolescents. Therefore, local authorities should provide after-school programmes or homework clubs to assist those schoolchildren whose families lack formal education and English language skills.

Focus on transition from secondary school to college

The high rate of young males dropping out after secondary school is a serious concern for both communities. For participants like Tariq, their experience is that second-generation youth are left to navigate their school and the transition from secondary education to college alone. First-generation Africans suggest that the government should develop early intervention programmes to increase college attendance, which is critical for their success.

• Information and skills necessary for transition to post-secondary education (college knowledge): Addressing gaps in college knowledge within secondary schools is likely to help students understand what to do next. In particular, East African students need special assistance to consider their possible futures, especially those who will be the first generation in their families to engage in higher education.

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