Montreal’s Maison d’Haiti has been operating an after-school programme for decades, to address gaps in the education of the kids who go there.
Alix Jean runs the classes and argues those deficiencies are partly the result of some teachers’ low expectations of the Black students.
“Well, I think they are underestimated,” he said, adding that it happened to him when he went to school in the city.
He and other educators say the result is that students end up feeling excluded.
“There’s always been sort of a lack of expectation, certain biases that are embedded in people’s perception of young Black kids,” Alix Adrien, president of the Quebec Board of Black Educators told Global News.
The former teacher said that often puts them in a position where they face more punishment, or streamed into classes below their level.
According to him, it even happened to his own daughter, who’s now a physician.
“When she was going to school, secondary 4 and secondary 5, she managed to get 100 in math, but yet was denied to have access to enriched classes,” he pointed out.
Science and technology teacher Sabi Hinkson, whose masters thesis tackles the issue, found that Black students are often steered towards vocational courses.
“Being labelled as special needs or as having learning disabilities, so they’re being steered away from the advanced sciences and math courses,” she noted.
Adrien stressed that systemic racism in schools, where children are supposed to feel safe, has damaging and lasting effects .
“It does have a negative impact on self-esteem, on expectations, on certain values of how they perceive themselves and their role in the society.”
According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, 94 per cent of Black youth, aged 15 to 25, said they would like to get a university degree, compared to 82 per cent in the rest of the population.
But just 60 per cent of Black youth thought they would, compared to nearly 80 per cent of others.
At Maison d’Haiti, volunteers are doing what they can to encourage Black youth to reach their full potential.