African Women and City Council

A letter of complaint to the Director of Education 2004


To the Director of Education
Aberdeen City Council
Education Dept 2005

Concerns about our Children in some Primary Schools in Aberdeen City

Some parents are not happy with the way their children are treated in some of your schools.    We would like to bring these concerns to your attention.
These parents feel that teachers ignore their children and treat them differently, under the disguise that they are culturally different. Several occasions the report a teacher gives about a child is quite different from the child’s ability or character.  Most of the reports on the children are vague or general and most times without positive comments from the teachers; even though at no time has the school raised any concerns about the child to the parents. The parents see this as a lack of interest on the part of the school to know their children very well and chart their progress. 

Many children are left to feel as if they are objects of curiosity. A parent cited an example of where the teacher only makes comment on her daughter’s skin colour with these patronising words, “oh how beautiful is your skin” or “what a lovely African dress or hairdo you have”. When the teacher makes these comments, other children will now come round and start touching her daughter’s skin, hair, or dress.  Her daughter only gets positive comments only when she is in her African dress or hairdo. She felt after a year, her daughter made no friends and learned nothing. Her story is not an exception; many women have recounted similar stories and have done the natural thing by removing their children from such schools to another. This is a disruption of a child and upsetting for the parents as the child has to go through another process of getting used to a new school and environment. 
 

It could be true sometimes schools do not know what to say to a child that has a language problem but these are children born in this country where the language is not a barrier.  Teachers keep seeing them be different and form stereotype attitudes towards them. We as parents will not accept this attitude either should our children. Children should not be made to feel different in the environment they are supposed to learn. We are quite sure this feeling is widely shared other Ethnic minority communities.  The fact that many would not speak up, does not mean all is well with their children in the schools.  If teachers are finding it difficult or not sure about how to treat children from another culture in their classes or schools, it is the duty of the Education Department to train them in these areas.  Multiculturalism in the school is not about dancing and singing only but making our children feel part and parcel of the school and not an object of learning or curiosity for other children. We are therefore advocating better cultural awareness for teachers and closer work with parents and other ethnic community groups.

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