Kwame Gyambibi, City Year London
I read Economics at university and graduated last July. I Before I went to university, I had lived in London for my entire life, so London has moulded my map of the world.
After university, I wanted to take a gap year and planned to teach English in China. But after hearing the stories from a close friend who was a volunteer last year, and had gone on to work for a partner of City Year UK, I realised that people in my own community are calling out for help. This inspired me to give back, so I joined City Year in London.
I went to a mixed school so serving in an all boys school has been a very different experience for me. It seems the boys’ show their affection to one another physically and could possibly be more gentle in the way they do this. The day-to-day fight against educational inequality takes many forms. We run a breakfast club that was set up by City Year teams before us. We also help out in the playground, which can be a challenge.
However, I’d say the most effective way we combat educational inequality is by being near-peer positive role models. There is a year 9 boy I support who I know would have a successful year if he isn’t permanently excluded. He was recently in internal exclusion and I was worried he would fall behind with his work, so I took him the book they’re currently reading in English, Animal Farm, and I told him to read the first 50 pages. He said ‘Okay’, but he sounded like he was giving me lip service. So, I craned my neck towards him and asked ‘are you going to read it?’ He looked up at me and said ‘yes sir, I’ll do it for you, because you’ve asked me to’. I then said to him ‘don’t do it for me, do it for yourself and do it for your family – that’s why you’re in school, it’s for your own education’.
See, when you’re fighting educational inequality, you’re also fighting unemployment, crime and drug abuse. Education gives people hope for a better tomorrow unlike anything else in this world.