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The History of Ethnicity and Educational Attainment Essay

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In 1945 the UK needed rapid rebuilding, both structurally and in population re-growth. After the Second World War the UK’s population was virtually non-existent, with most males having died in the war, which meant that there were not enough people around to rebuild the country. This resulted in an economic boom with more jobs than people in the country at the time, and at the same time the UK was still managing her Empire in India and the Caribbean. By the 1950’s there was a rapid increase in the technological industry, yet the UK was rapidly falling behind Europe technologically and was desperate to increase their technological market.

The UK soon realised that they could not afford and Empire and the rapid technological development needed to rival the market of the rest of Europe, so the decision was made to create the Immigration Policy. Afro-Caribbean immigrants were the first coloured people to arrive in the UK and were lured there by the promise of housing, employment and education, but what they found when they arrived in the UK was discrimination in housing, schooling and employment, especially in the types of jobs the immigrants were permitted to fulfil, i.

e. they could work only in jobs such as bus drivers and underground attendants; only the lower status (IV class) non-skilled, manual jobs. Again, in the 1970’s, the Consumer revolution leads to the introduction of new food and fashion types and the South African immigration, the UK accepted all the Indian, Pakistani and Ugandan immigrants as cheap labour forces, for as long as the economic boom continues. But in the 1980’s an economic recession began meaning that unemployment increases due to the lack of goods being sold abroad.

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The economic recession affected everybody in the UK, but especially the immigrant groups, as they were the first employees to be laid off. This was because the immigrants were hired by industries as periphery workers; these workers are the ones to be drafted in during economic boom periods but are then laid off when a company slump occurs. There was also discrimination in the education of ethnic minority children.

Education policy went through three distinct phases, assimilation, multiculturalism, and anti-racist. Assimilation, during 1945 to the early 1970’s, was the educational policy that meant everyone entering the UK must be ‘made’ British; the curriculum taught only white versions of history, European geography only centring on the British empire, British religions and cultures taught in RE and second language students were sent to special needs units to learn English.

The next policy to be put into affect during the late 1970’s until the mid-1980’s was Multiculturalism, or the acknowledging of others, this policy made an effort to include other ethnicities by having special days and events to celebrate other cultures on a 1-day basis and made a step towards breaking down cultural barriers.

This policy was often referred to as a ‘steel band, sari and samara education only as it gave a 1-day insight into other cultures but then went back to teaching about Britain and white history, customs, etc. The last and current policy is that of Anti-Racist education with the aim to ‘attack inequality’ and racism, reflect everybody equally, and to eradicate Euro centrism – the idea that Europe is at the heart of everything that happens in the world.

The curriculum has also changed to reflect world history, geography, languages, religions and cultures. Statistics to show attainment of 5 or more A*-C grades by ethnic origin between 1989-2000, released by the UK Government Department of Education and Skills give a clear picture of the educational attainment of White, Black, Asian (all), Asian (Indian), Asian (Pakistani), Asian (Bangladeshi), Asian (other – including Chinese), and any other ethnic groups.

The trend between 1994 and 2000, however, shows that almost all ethnic groups have steadily increased their attainment of A*-C grades. The Asian category, however, differs greatly within itself with the different minorities scoring very different results with the different Asian groups holding both the highest and lowest achievers of 5 A*-C grades.

We can see this in the statistics released by the Government, these show that Asian (other – including Chinese) are the highest achievers of 5 A*-C grades between 1992 (when the data became available) and 2000 with 72 grade achievers in 2000 whilst Asian (Pakistani), Asian (Bangladeshi) and Black groups are the lowest achievers throughout with only 29/30 grade achievers in the year 2000. Showing that the initial views that ethnic minorities are intellectually inferior to whites is completely unsubstantiated and are, in many cases, more likely to achieve the 5 A*-C grades than the whites themselves are.

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