A regional Perspective on Afrodescendant Quality of Life

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Northern America
Within the U.S., the Urban League has found that teachers with less than three years experience teach in minority schools at twice the rate that they teach in white schools. This has a direct effect on the quality of education that group members receive and their level of educational attainment. While preschool enrollment for blacks dropped three points from 60% in 2004, white preschool enrollment increased four percent; these gradually declining numbers, for the most part, are indicative of the educational status of blacks throughout the nation.
At present, one in five Afro-Canadians are either attending university or have earned a bachelors degree. Perhaps the most notable compliant regarding the state of public education for youth in Canada is the lack of a presence of Afro-Canadian history; the Ministry of State – Multiculturalism is currently working to address this issue.
Latin America
Afrodescendants in Latin-America receive little education, if any at all. In Brazil, the illiteracy rate for blacks over 15 is 20%, while only 8% for whites. The U.S.-based Chronicle of Higher Education states that “While 45 percent of the country’s 170 million people defined themselves as either black or pardo—mixed race—in the 2000 census, only 17 percent of university graduates are of mixed race and only 2% are black.”28 Black Brazilians average 6.4 years of schooling.29 Similarly, Afro-Colombian communities struggle with an illiteracy rate of 32%, and with a scenario in which a mere 38% of Afrodescendant teenagers can attend secondary school. Only 2% of Afro-Colombian youth attend university.
In nearly all of the above-listed communities and in the Caribbean, Afrodescendants are not afforded the same educational opportunities as members of other groups. These discrepancies are most blatantly visible when comparing the gaps that exist between white and black levels of educational attainment. On the whole, Afrodescendants represent a disproportionate number of high school drop-outs in their individual nations. Many of them are unable to read or write.
Additionally, their own group history—in all nations—is left out of virtually all state-based school curriculums. This shows a blatant disregard for the true historical record of each nation, particularly with regard to their own slavery past. The United Nations is attempting to address this issue with its Trans Atlantic Slave Trade Program, which seeks to incorporate information about the slave trade into school curriculums. In most nations, though, this program has yet to be implemented; if adopted, it could prove detrimental to national interests in its highlighting of the exploitation of Blacks and states’ complicity in this matter.
Poverty and a lack of educational resources often translate into inadequate education for children in Cuba. TransAfrica notes that the Abel Santa Maria School, which educates visually impaired children, has one functional computer for 212 children.30 Cuba has a high literacy rate of 96%, though only 81% of its citizens enroll in secondary school, and a mere 13% attend college. Ninety-three percent of Haiti’s population is illiterate—a staggering number—while in Jamaica, government cutbacks have meant less access to education for many.

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