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SMITH AND HODGE JOIN FORCES TO TACKLE RACISM IN EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

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Schools minister Jacqui Smith and equal opportunities minister ...
Schools minister Jacqui Smith and equal opportunities minister

Margaret Hodge, have held the first meeting of their new strategic

race advisory group, the Race Education and Employment Forum (REEF).

REEF will advise the Department of Education and Employment on

matters relating to the progress of ethnic minorities in education,

employment and training.

Ms Smith said: 'While many Asian children do better than others in

exams, achievement in other minority communities is far too weak. We

need to understand why this is and find out how to make the system

work for all. This is why I am delighted that through REEF, we will

have the advice and support of such a distinguished group to help us

tackle racism and also implement the Macpherson Report.

Mrs Hodge said: 'People from ethnic minorities still find it harder

to get jobs, still find it tougher to get promotion and many still

continue to suffer from discrimination. Unemployment rates for ethnic minority groups of working age are more than twice the rate of the white working age population. For 16-24 year olds the figures are even worse, unemployment rates for ethnic minority people in this age group are three times as high as for the comparable white population. I am determined to work to change this and REEF has been established to assist in that task.

Ms Smith added: 'In a rapidly changing world all our citizens must have the opportunity to realise their full potential and all should have the chance to realise their dreams. This is why this department is:

tackling the educational underachievement of ethnic minority pupils

and traveller children by increasing the ethnic minority and

traveller achievement grant to£162.5m in 2000-2001, a seven per cent

increase over the amount available in 1999-2000;

supporting summer school study support pilots to help raise

standards - 10 of which were aimed at ethnic minority pupils this

summer;

doubling the budget to support mentoring schemes for ethnic

minority pupils from£40,000 to£80,000. We are also establishing a

community mentoring task force to produce guidance and spread good

practice in this area;

promoting the benefits of diversity in the workplace in a series of

breakfast meetings with key employers and organisations in

partnership with the Commission for Racial Equality and Race for

Opportunity;

ensuring that the views of ethnic minorities are represented on the

new deal task force by setting up an advisory group which includes

Tetteh Kofi of the Ethnic Media Group and Ram Gidoomal from the South

Asian Development Partnership;

introduced ethnic monitoring of all young people joining the new

deal, a programme that boosts the employability of people unemployed

for six months or more.

NOTES

This new group replaces the former Race Employment and Education

Forum and the Advisory Group on Raising Ethnic Minority Pupil

Achievement (AGREMPA). The first meeting of the new Forum was on 16

November 1999.

The Forum's remitis to consider and advise on matters relating to the progress of ethnic minorities in education, employment and training.

The members of REEF are appointed in a personal capacity by ministers and include: Stephen Alambritis (Federation of Small Businesses), Ms Andrea Callender (Race for Opportunity), John Cridland (Confederation of British Industry), Ms Sandy Finnigan (Careers Bradford Ltd), Ms Kaliani Lyle (Citizen's Advice, Scotland), Ms Thalia Marriott (West Thames College, London), Peter Mercer, MBE (East Anglian Gypsy Council) Ms Gloria Mills, MBE (UNISON), Prof Tariq Modood (University of Bristol), Sir Herman Ouseley, Kt (Commission for Racial Equality), Michael Peters (Society of Education Officers/Association of Chief Education Officers), Ms Cherry Short (Cardiff Probation Service), Ms Sukhvinder Stubbs (The Runnymede Trust), Ms Christine Taylor-Ozgen (The Refugee Council), Chris Woodhead (OFSTED), Miss Rebecca Rampton (Exeter Students Union), Mrs Denise Patrick (Headteacher, Stroud Green Primary School, London), Mrs Anita Bhalla(BBC), Ms Yasmin Bevan (Headteacher, Denbigh High School, Luton).

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