Jeanne Munyonge, a year 12 student, never truly felt like she belonged in the Australian educational system.
“You understand that all you feel is alien. Particularly for someone like me, who was essentially the only African girl in my year level of school, “”Munyonge” says.
It also took the young lady some time to locate a group of friends at her school.
“I feel like I kept switching back and forth with people to see if I fit in here or there,” the speaker said. “Munyonge” says.
And Munyonge was not the only person to go through something similar.
The Ubuntu Project, a multiracial support group, conducted a survey of 100 African-Australian students in Victoria.
Almost everyone, or 91%, reported experiencing racism at school.
In order to help future students by providing them with the appropriate tools, South Australian researchers are currently working to find a solution to this problem.
They also want to raise awareness of the problem among the staff and teachers.
The University of South Australia Senior Lecturer Dr. Melanie Baak says, “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.”
The Australian Research Council and the University of South Australia, which will provide a scholarship for the program, will both contribute to the funding of Baak’s project.
This implies that Baak can hire young African Australians to contribute significantly to the study.
It will be one of the first occasions when the African Diaspora can express its needs and desires to the Education Department directly, according to Bior Aguer of the Youth Reference Group.
Another member of the Youth Reference Group, Gabriel Akon, adds, “If it’s not done, these kids will not only turn against themselves, but they’ll turn towards a society they thought they belonged in.”
For Munyonge, it’s critical that more students with African ancestry speak out so that their voices can be heard and others can benefit in the future.
You can open the way for other younger people who are coming, she explains. They are not required to struggle like we did.