House of Lords Meeting Harnesses Community Social Capital to Address Racial Inequality in Education

House of Lords Meeting Harnesses Community Social Capital to Address Racial Inequality in Education

Jan 11th was my first visit to the House of Lords, having previously attended meetings in the House of Commons.

The occasion of my visit was to facilitate a discussion around racism in education as one of seven topics covered, aimed at harnessing social capital within Black communities and encouraging active participation in politics to drive social change.

The inspired event was organised and hosted by two non-profit organisations Get-In Westminster (Mems Ayinla) and Model Westminster (Anwulika Elliott), established by young, educated women of colour who having experienced racial inequality in their own educational journeys, use their knowledge to effect change.

Around 40 people took part in the event, which began with introductions from the hosts and facilitators: Paulette Williams (Leading Routes), Deborah Gabriel (Black British Academics & Bournemouth University), Larissa Kennedy (Education Officer & Deputy Student Union President at Warwick University), Busayo Twins (The Access Project), Kojo Apeagyei (Shelter, Bastion, Outliers), Chante Joseph (Chair, Bristol University Student Union) and Sanmeet Kaur (Get-In Westminster).

As facilitators we managed the dialogue with attendees who were organised into groups, moving through each over the course of the evening. Discussions explored a variety of key issues that impact Black students and academics in higher education: the attainment gap, admission practices, mental health facilities in universities, representation in senior leadership and funding.

In addition to collecting information on lived experience, we also gathered recommendations to address the problems identified, that will be used to develop a report called The Miseducation, which will be circulated to key stakeholders.

It was a privilege to be invited to take part in such a productive, constructive and meaningful event and uplifting to see the deep community commitment and collaborative spirit, enabling the active involvement of young people in the political processes necessary to drive change in the HE sector that is long overdue.

On 4th December 2018 the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched an Inquiry into racial harassment at publicly funded Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s). Information about the inquiry can be found via this link to their website:

https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/inquiries-and-investigations/racial-harassment-higher-education-our-inquiry

The call for evidence runs until 15 February 2019 and is aimed at gathering as much information as possible from those involved in this area. That includes staff and students affected by this issue, the publicly funded HEIs that deal with these issues as they arise (and in which such incidents occur) and the organisations that have knowledge and expertise in this area and work to inform the role of staff, students and HEIs in dealing with these difficult issues.

Mems Alinya (left) & Paulette Williams (right)
Dr Deborah Gabriel
Dr Deborah Gabriel
Paulette Williams
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Dr Deborah Gabriel

Dr Deborah Gabriel is the Founder and Director of Black British Academics and an international consultant, academic, media and equality specialist.

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