Campaign aims to cut barriers to post-16 education for minority groups in Suffolk

The Taking Your Place event at Ipswich International Church encouraged people to discuss solutions t

The Taking Your Place event at Ipswich International Church encouraged people to discuss solutions to the barriers for minority groups in accessing post-16 education Picture: SHAHNAZ BEGUM - Credit: Shahnaz Begum

A Suffolk organisation campaigning for fairer access to post-16 education for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students is to form a pledge for schools and colleges in the region to sign up to.

Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) was commissioned by the University of Suffolk in January to identify the barriers to BAME students accessing education beyond GCSE level and come up with some solutions.

Following initial work through research and interviews, a special event entitled Take Your Place was held at Ipswich International Church on Saturday where people could identify problems and share their ideas for solutions.

ISCRE plans to form a manifesto detailing the actions needed to break down these barriers, with the aim of all the county’s schools, colleges and university signing up to the pledge.

Phanuel Mutumburi, ISCRE’s business and operations director, said: “This is really critical because we are finding there are sections of our community being left behind.

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“Research shows people who have got a better education have better outcomes in life.

“There are certain sections of the community being left behind and we are saying this is unacceptable – we need to make opportunities for everyone.”

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A host of barriers have been identified so far, including financial pressures, an awareness from parents as to what opportunities exist, English being a second language, and even situations of institutional racism.

One speaker questioned why translators were available in courts but many education establishments did not have any translation provision, while the failure of a student applying for a PHD to be told a certain level of English was required was also highlighted.

Mr Mutumburi said that there was also no support in place for families who did not understand the opportunities, highlighting that some cultures would see a student becoming a doctor as shameful.

Sue Wardell, business development officer with ISCRE, added: “It has got to start much earlier than college – if you don’t see it as an option from primary level how do you progress with that?”

To find out more or contribute to the campaign, visit the website here or call 01473 408111.

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