Is it racist for schools to have an education fund for poor white kids?

Nii Ntreh January 06, 2020
Dulwich College is in south London. Picture: PA

Two private schools in England, Dulwich College and Winchester College, have rejected a $1 million donation from famed mathematician Sir Bryan Thwaites who intended for his generosity to help poor white boys.

Both Dulwich and Winchester said Sir Bryan’s intentions were discriminatory. But the mathematician, an alumnus of both schools thanks to a scholarship, rejects the claim of the schools.

According to the UK’s The Independent, Sir Bryan hoped his donation would benefit a group that he says are performing worse than other ethnic groups in school.

Sir Bryan was quoted as saying: “Winchester said it would harm its reputation by accepting my bequest, but in my opinion, it would gain enormously by being seen to address what is the severe national problem of the underperforming white cohort in schools.”

The 96-year-old continued: “If Cambridge University can accept a much larger donation in support of Black students, why cannot I do the same for underprivileged white British?”

But Master of Dulwich College, Dr Joe Spence, maintained that although his school was grateful to their benefactors, donations made toward ethnic or religious intentions are deemed inimical to goals of inclusivity.

On their part, a Winchester spokesperson explained the rejection of Sir Bryan’s offer saying, “The trustees are clear, having consulted widely, that acceptance of a bequest of this nature would neither be in the interests of the school as a charity, nor the specific interests of those it aims to support through its work.”

Despite resistance to his offers, Sir Bryan is not backing down. He now intends to go donate his money to a public school under the same condition of helping poor white kids.

Sir Bryan’s allusion to the arrangement for Black students at Cambridge is perhaps directed at the programme sponsored by rapper Stormzy.

The rapper, beginning in 2018, decided to sponsor two black students through a 4-year undergraduate education, every year at Cambridge.

In announcing his scholarship, Stormzy said it was “important for black students, especially, to be aware that it can 100% be an option to attend a university of this calibre.”

This in no way answers the question that comes with the argument Sir Bryan is making – do poor white people need special programmes that identify them by their race?

In the current situation of widening global wealth inequality, the conversation on this matter cannot be postponed for long.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: January 6, 2020


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