Home / Africa / African gang violence is a problem – but so is our primitive view of …
African gang violence is a problem - but so is our primitive view of ...

African gang violence is a problem – but so is our primitive view of …

Once again, the issue of African youth crime is in the media. I would like to expand the debate to consider the role of schools and education in helping young people with an African background integrate and achieve opportunities in Australian society. This would also help reduce racism and negative perceptions by non-African Australians.

How do we teach about Africa in the classroom? What perceptions do all students, not just those of African background, gain about Africa and Africans? As a history and geography teacher who has had a high proportion of refugee students in my classroom, I have examined and considered these issues.

Up Next
Housing market decline tipped for 2018

More Victoria News Videos


‘Young thugs’: Police on African youth

‘Young thugs’: Police on African youth offenders

Amid concerns about gang-related crime, Acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton articulates Victoria Police’s plan to deal with the issue of youth violence.

Up Next
Housing market decline tipped for 2018


Housing market decline tipped for 2018

Housing market decline tipped for 2018

National property markets ended 2017 with a whimper, with half of Australia’s capital cities recording falling house prices in December. Vision courtesy Seven News, Melbourne.

Up Next
Man missing in Victoria’s Grampians

#####IMG000000002#####
Man missing in Victoria’s Grampians

Man missing in Victoria’s Grampians

It’s now been four days since family or friends have heard from Keilor Downs man Julio Ascui. Vision courtesy Seven News, Melbourne.

Up Next
Inmate stabbed to death at Port Phillip prison

#####IMG000000003#####
Inmate stabbed to death at Port Phillip

Inmate stabbed to death at Port Phillip prison

An inmate at a maximum-security prison in Melbourne was stabbed and killed on Monday night. Vision courtesy Seven News, Melbourne.

Up Next
Melbourne man drowns swimming between flags

#####IMG000000004#####
Melbourne man drowns swimming between

Melbourne man drowns swimming between flags

The second man to drown in “dangerous” waters off Phillip Island’s coast in a week was swimming between the flags, lifesavers say. Vision courtesy Seven News, Melbourne.

Up Next
Your guide to the summer construction blitz traffic bottlenecks

#####IMG000000005#####
Your guide to the summer construction

Your guide to the summer construction blitz traffic bottlenecks

The summer construction blitz will effect traffic in major Melbourne suburbs – this is how it may impact your commute.

Up Next
NYE around Melbourne

#####IMG000000006#####
NYE around Melbourne

NYE around Melbourne

How did Melbourne celebrate the end of 2017? Social media users their new years eve celebrations.

‘Young thugs’: Police on African youth offenders

Amid concerns about gang-related crime, Acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton articulates Victoria Police’s plan to deal with the issue of youth violence.

I believe that a simplistic, primitive view of Africa tends to be conveyed. It is reinforced by textbooks and reading material. These issues are not intentional, but are the result of a crowded curriculum and a lack of awareness or consideration of cultural diversity by many publishers.

Students who have come from South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia may have lived in refugee camps all their lives. The skills needed to survive in a camp can be very different from the compliant behaviour expected in an Australian classroom. The frustration that arises from having your life and future livelihood beyond your control, for years on end, in the hands of a remote UN organisation, is difficult to imagine.

For many, their parents may have had disrupted or very little schooling. They have little understanding of the rules, expectations and classroom procedures in Australian schools. They likely have scant reading material at home, which is a strong marker of school success.

School reports, with their graphed dots, are difficult to comprehend. I have had parent-teacher interviews where a child has translated, due to the translator being busy elsewhere. Sometimes their child will have told them they are doing well when the opposite is true. These parents may believe their children have just as much opportunity to be a doctor or a teacher as other students, without knowing the support required to encourage this.

At home, these students may learn that they have a culture and language of which to be proud. At school, it is highly unlikely that this will be validated in the day-to-day curriculum. They hear Africa continually referred to as a single mass. As young children, they see Africa frequently represented as a series of wild animals or the concept of “safari“.

Breaking News Alert

Get the latest news and updates emailed straight to your inbox.

Books about Africa often promote European explorers and “discovery”. If they go to the Werribee Zoo, these children see jewellery and old e-waste artfully decorating mud huts. Traditional culture is part of the spectacle. This would be fine if it was accompanied more strongly by African experts speaking about the issues, rather than being passive receivers of aid.

on Facebook

on Twitter
TWEET

Link


Tourists on safari: the Africa that too often comes to mind.  Photo: Supplied

As children get older, they see pictures of white doctors and scientists trying to fix Africa‘s problems. They see pictures of potbellied, naked children queuing in the dust. They see people living in hopeless, miserable slums. The “us” and “them” language underlines the “othering” of Africans, weakening their inclusion as Australian school children.

There are, of course, occasional exceptions, typically Nelson Mandela.

on Facebook

on Twitter
TWEET

Link

#####IMG000000007#####
Police Minister Lisa Neville speaks to the media about African youth crime.  Photo: Chris Hopkins

Charity ads promote an idea of helplessness unless intervention on Western terms is made. If children watch the news, they are likely to see only negatives, such as corruption or violence. All of these things are true, and problems, but they do not represent the whole of Africa. It is important to also expose all of our young people to a more considered understanding, one that shows African people as having the capacity to be strong, positive role models.

Our students learn of a continent that is a recipient of aid and charity. Inadvertently, the concept of the “white man’s burden”, a justification of colonialism, has returned.

Indeed, I have undertaken a comparison of textbooks from the 1980s with more recent ones, and I believe that there are fewer representations of African modernity now than there were then. Teachers may unthinkingly reproduce language and ideas that further alienate students. We need a concerted effort to educate parents who have little knowledge of Western schooling in how to support their children.

We also urgently need cultural awareness training of teachers to ensure that the curriculum is more inclusive. These factors will assist in helping our students of African backgrounds feel positive and included, and prevent them sliding into resentment and alienation.

Kate Habgood teaches at a Melbourne high school.

Related Post