Engaging black learners in adult and community education

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Lenford White, NIACE lifelines in adult learning, 2002 (Niace lifelines in adult learning series - 4)

Black people comprise a disproportionately large number of those who live in poverty. Despite a huge number of regeneration initiatives in the last 20-30 years, little has happened to improve the lives of individuals and families. In the original New Deal for Communities guidance, the Government sets out its expectations regarding race equality and participation. A commitment to engaging local people, local businesses and voluntary and community organisations also means involving people who are black. Poverty can affect those of all backgrounds and skin colour but black people living in poverty can also additionally experience racism, prejudice and discrimination.

Against a backdrop of under-achievement, there is also a view among black people that education beyond school is irrelevant and alien. Community learning can be the key to participation and releasing potential. There are many examples of innovative projects that have changed lives forever.

Case study

The LA Raiders Soccer Academy focuses on reengaging young unemployed people with a programme of educational and vocational training balanced with sports studies and work experience. Many have problems with reading and writing. The majority (80%) are either black or from minority groups. Students achieved 95% attendance, demonstrating a commitment to the project. Combining help with their literacy with achieving a sports coach qualification, provides a good stepping-stone for employability.

Links: For the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) visit www.niace.org.uk

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