On 9th May 2012, I went to my son’s postgraduate graduation from Imperial College at the Royal Albert Hall. The hall was packed with people who had come to celebrate their siblings’ achievements.
I sat through three hours’ speeches and roll call of students being called up to the stage in recognition of their achievements.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear names being called out for people from all around the world. There were students from China, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Russia, from the Middle East and South America, from main land Europe and even from places like Somalia and the West African states of Ghana and Nigeria.
What really surprised me was that in the thousands of students who were graduating there was not a single student from the West Indian community.
This same issue was highlighted by my wife four years ago when we attended her graduation at Warwick University. The number of West Indian students on that day could be counted on one hand with no more than half a dozen in attendance.
The question that needs to be asked here is: What is going on within this community? Why are so many young people from within this community missing out on an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and livelihood? What is it that is preventing them from joining others who seek knowledge to better themselves and those around them? Is it the family and their parents who take no interest in their education, the environment that they live in, the gang culture that is often associated with in this community or is it that the education system lets them down at a crucial stage in their academic life when those around them are making decisions that would affect the rest of their lives?
Personally I think it is a mixture of all those things. The parents who once they get into secondary school are unable to control them and keep on top of them to ensure that they are learning, and the schools who often give up on them as difficult students and can’t wait to get them out of the schooling system.
The biggest question that needs to be asked is: What is the community doing to tackle this problem?
How important is the role of the parents and why is it that some parents abdicate their role and responsibility to ensure that their children get the best education that this country is able to provide which the rest of the world is quite happy to take advantage off.
If we continue this way, where are the next leaders and role models from within this community going to come from?
It is a high time the community woke up to this issue and addressed this problem for the sake of the future of our community.
By Ashtaq Arain