Eminent African scholar Dr. Molefi Asante has urged Africentric Alternative School educators to teach their students to compete with the world.
“Black kids don’t have much problems with multiple things going on at the same time because that’s part of our culture,” Asante said at the inaugural Africentric Alternative School lecture series last Saturday. “Watch what they do, how they learn and what they like and that’s what you base your teaching text on.”
A professor in the Department of African-American Studies at Temple University, Asante is best known for his pioneering work on Afrocentricity.
“Afrocentricity is about centering our children as agents in their own history and culture,” he said. “It’s not anti or against anybody or the opposite of Eurocentricity which is an ethno-centric idea where Europeans have taken the notion that their world view is universal and that everybody else is inferior.”
Florida State University College of Social Work associate professor Dr. Martell Lee Teasley repeated his call for an Africentric university while Dr. George Dei, who led the charge for the establishment of an Africentric school in Toronto, said there will be challenges along the way for the academic institution that opened last September.
“Let’s however make one thing very clear and that is we cannot fail,” said Dei who is the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies chair at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. “The stakes are so high for our kids, community and the ideas that we put forward.”
The Africentric school was one of four TDSB alternative schools launched last year. Less than a month after it opened its doors, enrollment increased by 45 to 130 and there is a waiting list of students seeking enrollment.
Principal Thando Hyman-Aman admitted that the school has been fraught with controversy.
“The thing about that controversy is that we have to take what we learn, use it so we can get better and inspire in our children a culture of resilience,” she said.
Hyman-Aman stood behind her teaching staff for enduring the growing pains the school has endured in the past seven months.
“Our teachers have never refused to want to learn, develop and grow together,” she said. “We are in a building and developing stage…We are here to build the spirit of young people and to ensure that our teachers, community and parents encourage and motivate our children.”