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Chances for all

I refer to your article "Search for respect causes problems"(TES, June 2), based on the Runnymede Trust's recent report on the alienation of young African-Caribbean people. My concern is the extent to which you place the onus on young black people themselves, implying they are primarily to blame for their position.

Our report clearly shows that, despite their negative situation, young black people expressed a clear desire to do well. The emphasis on the "body language and behaviour of Afro-Caribbean boys", as stated in your opening paragraph, is certainly not one which I would have picked out as the key to understanding our report.

Far from ascribing the relative academic failure of young African-Caribbeans to some innate delinquency, I wish to stress that our report identified a significant range of outside factors at play.

A vital element is the dearth of black parent governors whose insight and experience of living and working in Britain is sorely missed in governing bodies. Another factor is the cultural gap between teachers and young African-Caribbeans.

Furthermore, one also has to acknowledge that many young African-Caribbean people feel that regardless of how well they perform at school their chances of achieving gainful employment are poor. This is a recipe for alienation and disaffection.

We must ensure that all children and young people have the opportunity to realise their full potential.


The Runnymede Trust

133 Aldersgate Street

London EC1

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