Researchers help African Australian students tackle racism

Year 12 student Jeanne Munyonge never felt she completely belonged while going through the education system in Australian schools.

“You know you just feel like an outsider. Especially like me, I was the only African girl in my school basically, like in my year level,” says Munyonge.

And it took some time for the young woman to find a group of people she got along with in her school.

“I feel like I kept going back and forth with people trying to find, like, oh do I fit in here, do I fit in there?” says Munyonge.

And Munyonge is far from being the only one who had to endure this kind of situation.

A multicultural support group, the Ubuntu Project surveyed one hundred African-Australian students in Victoria.

Almost all, 91 percent said they suffered from racism at school.

Now, South Australian researchers are trying to come up with a solution to this issue to help future students by giving them the right tools.

They want to create an awareness of the issue among teachers and staff as well.

“What it is that helps them find a sense of belonging and then taking that into schools, thinking about how these young people’s voices and experiences can help shape what schools do, to improve the sense of belonging,” says University of South Austarlia Senior lecturer Dr Melanie Baak.

Baak’s project will be funded with the help of the Australian Research Council as well as the University of South Australia which will be offering a scholarship for the program.

This means African-Australian youth can be employed by Baak to give a precious contribution to the study.

“It’s going to be one of the first times where the African Diaspora can be heard directly from the Education Department on their needs and wants,” says Bior Aguer of the Youth Reference Group.

“If it’s not done, these children will not only turn against themselves, but they’ll turn towards a society they thought they belonged in,” adds Gabriel Akon another member of the Youth Reference Group.

For Munyonge, it’s important that more students of African heritage come forward to be heard to help others in the future.

She says: “Other younger people are going to come you know and you can pave the way for them. They don’t have to struggle like we struggled.”

Sourced from Africanews

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