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1 "Race Equality and Higher Education: Thinking outside the (tick) box" Dr Gurnam Singh, Centre for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE), Coventry University.

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Presentation on theme: "1 "Race Equality and Higher Education: Thinking outside the (tick) box" Dr Gurnam Singh, Centre for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE), Coventry University."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 "Race Equality and Higher Education: Thinking outside the (tick) box" Dr Gurnam Singh, Centre for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE), Coventry University Minding the gap: ethnicity and gender disparities in degree attainment in Higher Education Institute of Education, University of London 22 January 2008

2 2 Higher Education Stats Agency (HESA) Categories 1. White. 11 White - British 2 White - Irish. 13 White Scottish. 14 Irish Traveller. 19 Other White background. 21 Black or Black British - Caribbean. 22 Black or Black British - African. 29 Other Black background. 31 Asian or Asian British - Indian. 32 Asian or Asian British - Pakistani. 33 Asian or Asian British - Bangladeshi. 34 Chinese. 39 Other Asian background. 41 Mixed - White and Black Caribbean. 42 Mixed - White and Black African. 43 Mixed - White and Asian. 49 Other Mixed background. 80 Other Ethnic background.

3 3 Academic neutrality and the problem of positivism William BlakeWilliam Blake's Newton (1795),

4 4 Need for a paradigm shift Alternative knowledge claims in and of themselves are rarely threatening to conventional knowledge. Such claims are routinely ignored, discarded, or simply absorbed and marginalised in existing paradigms. Much more threatening is the challenge that alternative epistemologies offer. (Patricia Hill Collins, 2000a p )

5 5 I learned everything from this first spectacle: I saw how the white (French), superior, plutocratic, civilised world founded its power on the repression of populations who had suddenly become invisible, like proletarians, immigrant workers, minorities who are not the right colour, women. Invisible as human beings. But, of course, perceived as tools – dirty, stupid, lazy, underhanded, etc. Thanks to some annihilating dialectical magic, I saw that the great, noble, advanced countries established themselves by expelling what was strange; excluding it but not dismissing it; enslaving it. A commonplace gesture of History: there have to be two races – the masters and the slaves. (Hélène Cixous, quoted in Young, 1990, p1) Inequality, oppression and western enlightenment culture

6 6 What is the essence of the paradigm shift? Where we are … Is global warming taking place? Is there an explanation for BME underachievement other than institutional racism? Where we need to be … Global warming is an undisputable fact, the nature of which is not fully understood. The sum of our collective human experience indicates that institutional racism is the norm.

7 7 Stage 3 – Critical Consciousness Little change Growing frustration Paralysis Resentment Conflict Stage 2 – Racism is an issue for some. Analogous to accepting the hypothetical possibility of global warming We need information We must be seen to do something We need a policy statement. We need to become PC We need new words and cultural awareness We need to provide remedial support for underachieving students Stage 3 – Racism is a fact, analogous to accepting the reality of global warming There are no easy solutions We need knowledge/technology We are on a journey It involves reframing Transformation – life style change Two way dialogue Rehumanisation Stage 2 – Critical Complacency Stage 1 – Critical Unconsciousness Stage 1 - Racism is a fiction or occurs elsewhere Analogous to global warming being a fiction or not my problem I am a very intelligent rational cosmopolitan person Nobody complains I treat all my students alike. BME underachievement = WP = lowering standards Cultural deficit Dehumanisation Personal and organisational growth/change/transformation Challenge welcomed Emphasis on transparency Monitoring a means not end Critical Incident Scandal Challenge Audit Developing an Anti-racist Mind Set

8 8 Shifting the paradigm developing an anti- racist mind set/common sense – 10 point plan 1.Need a develop an analysis/understanding of racism which is neither simplistic, convenient or politically palatable. 2.To do this we need to have a historical perspective, not least to appreciate the scale of the challenge. 3.Need to break the link between BME underachievement and cultural pathology however tempting and convenient this may be. 4.Need to establish the link between BME underachievement, racism, power and professional/institutional practices and pedagogy. 5.Need to understand the social production of human identities is not benign – represents conflicting interests and motives i.e. to exploit, control, regulate, manipulate, label, resist, organise, mobilise, self-empowerment etc.

9 9 Shifting the paradigm developing an anti- racist mind set/common sense – 10 point plan continued … 6.We need to realise that categories we use to compare/measure student achievement are themselves descriptive and contingent and therefore incapable of explaining the totality of ones experience. 7.We need to provide support for students that is empowering in ways that is neither tokenistic, stigmatising nor paternalistic. 8.We need to develop creative solutions and need to remember that intellect alone does not guarantee imagination. 9.We need to stop rewarding failure/inaction and start supporting risk taking and courage 10.We need to listen to and hear the stories of BME students, their experiences and ideas about solutions.

10 10 Importance of the Black Student Voice 'Until the lions tell their own history, history will always glorify the hunters'. (African Proverb)


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