Published: 10 August, 2012
by PETER GRUNER
AN after-school tuition club which helps improve the educational chances of children from the African and Caribbean community in Islington is under threat due to a funding crisis.
It is just one of numerous community organisations which are suffering due to the Coalition government’s massive cuts in Islington Council’s cash.
Others include a Somali Community Centre which can no longer help its elderly members, an arts centre that is threatened with homelessness as it can no longer afford to pay its rent and a befriending service which is having to cut the hours volunteers spend with special needs children.
Over the next few weeks the Tribune will be highlighting these organisations who are struggling to continue their good work in the face of drastic cuts.
Threat to Koyaki - Search is on for alternative base to provide after-school tuition
THE popular Kokayi Supplementary School in Finsbury Park, which has been going for 30 years, provides essential after-school and weekend tuition for young people who might otherwise fail in the education system.
But Kokayi can no longer afford the annual rent for its premises in Woodfall Road. Islington Council, which owns the building, has given notice that Kokayi must seek alternative offices, possibly sharing with another organisation.
Leading community worker Desmond Riley, who runs the Link Up Project in Holloway and whose children attended the school, said he was extremely concerned.
He added: “Thousands of black youngsters would have failed the school system if it wasn’t for Kokayi. The children learn everything on the exam curriculum but they also get help with their homework.”
Kokayi was started in 1982 by concerned parents worried about the “culture gap” between young people from the black community and some teachers.
“A lot of children were failing and we didn’t know why,” said Mr Riley.
With mentoring support from a handful of teachers, Kokayi has helped raise the hopes and aspirations of hundreds of black children, with many being able to go to university.
Mr Riley believes there are still deep-rooted problems preventing many black children succeeding in our schools and there may still even be elements of “institutionalised racism”.
He said: “If black children are treated as potential troublemakers or failures right from the start then that’s the way they will feel.
“My own kids went to Kokayi. They all did very well. My daughter Charmaine went to university. She’s now got a job in marketing.”
Islington’s Labour education chief Councillor Richard Watts said Kokayi had achieved some remarkable results over the years and it was important that it survived.
“They have fallen on hard times recently but we are keen on helping them,” he added. “I am asking officers to find out what they need and how we can help. We need to ensure we get good value for our council tax-payers but there are various options we want to explore.”