Education grant for black and ethnic minority children cut by Croydon Council
CROYDON Council is facing accusations of racism after cutting a grant which supported underachieving black and ethnic minority children.
Nero Ughwujabo, chief executive of the Croydon Black Minority Ethnic (BME) Forum, this week criticised the council's decision to cut the £100,000 Education Community Grants Programme budget, which funded supplementary education.
It will mean 16 BME organisations will lose their funding, and has sparked concern from parents and volunteers.
Mr Ughwujabo said: "It is a travesty. The grant-funded pop-up and Saturday classes are there to help stop the disproportionate levels of BME children getting excluded from mainstream schools and to support their achievements.
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"The parents feel that their children are being victimised.
"It is not my place to say whether it is racism, but that is what many of the groups are saying. The council has not taken the time to look at the impact of this. Everyone responding rejected the proposals, and yet the council has gone ahead with the decision."
The BME forum is now planning a campaign against the cuts, and will protest outside the next full council meeting on October 15.
The forum has also written to council leader Mike Fisher, condemning the decision and requesting a formal review of the process.
Davina Arhin, who attended the classes herself and now has two children who use them, is furious with the council.
"I think it is racist because it disproportionately affects those in black and ethnic minorities," she said.
"It's sad but mainstream schools are not equipped to fully educate BME children. They are tailored for white middle class people so these extra classes really help our kids.
"My son now wants to be an astrophysicist because they have enabled him to believe he can do what he wants. These cuts were not thought through."
Responding to the claims, a council spokesman said: "As the numbers of children from ethnic backgrounds have increased, our education system has risen to this challenge – and we are now, sensibly, looking to invest in still more improvements to the borough's mainstream schools programme.
"Furthermore, since last autumn a 'pupil premium' payment gets paid to any school that takes on students with additional needs.
"This means that schools can always afford to provide the support that their children require, and the proof that this works can be seen in exam results.
"By not making these funding changes we would have to cut back on mainstream activities – something that would be felt by everyone."