A recent study from Wilfrid Laurier University found that young men who immigrated to southern Ontario from African countries faced discrimination from their high school teachers and counselors and were often discouraged from following. the courses they needed to pursue a university education.
The research was based on interviews and focus groups conducted between 2015 and 2017 with 67 young men who immigrated from Africa to southern Ontario. Most were based in the general Toronto area, but some lived in the Hamilton and Waterloo area, according to Professor Edward Shizha, who led the study.
“They felt like they were treated differently when it came to interacting with teachers,” said Shizha, professor of children and youth studies at Laurier.
Shizha said the young men described raising their hands in class and being ignored by their teachers. They said they felt they were treated as a homogeneous group, despite the diversity of different African countries.
The young men also said they were referred to applied courses rather than college courses, Shizha said. This is in line with previous research which found that young black students were disproportionately affected by the academic stream.
Based on research suggesting black and low-income students were disproportionately affected by streaming, the province announced it would end the practice, starting with the introduction of a basic math class. in ninth grade this fall.
Taking classes after high school costs time, money
Shizha said it was a step in the right direction. Although some of the students who were in the study went to college, he said they often had to take the classes they needed after leaving high school, costing them time and money. precious money.
“They were supposed to do it without paying the high school entrance fee, but now, after finishing high school or being pushed out of high school, they end up taking these subjects on their own, they have to. pay, ”Shizha said.
But Shizha said the end of academic streaming isn’t the only change that needs to happen.
Schools should recruit teachers and counselors who have racial and cultural identities like those of the students they work with, he said. Counselors and administrators should also review their course registration models to ensure that immigrant students, especially those from African countries, are also represented in college preparation courses.
School curricula must also change and become less Eurocentric, he said.
“What I hope is that schools can become an environment where everyone is welcome and everyone is accepted, despite differences in culture, despite differences in race,” said Shizha.
Shizha’s research has been published in the journal Canadian Ethnic Studies.
A spokesperson for Education Minister Stephen Lecce told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo that the current government has taken action against racism in part by making anti-racism training mandatory for board directors and senior officers, and ending the practice of streaming.
“When it comes to tackling racism and discrimination, we must not accept delays or inaction. Our students deserve better,” said spokesperson Caitlin Clark.
A future study by Wilfrid Laurier University expands this research to include six provinces. Stacey Wilson-Forsberg’s research also includes the experiences of young Francophones and young women, as well as young men.
For more stories about the experiences of black Canadians – from anti-black racism to success stories within the black community – check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.