The African Heritage Educators’ Network (AHEN) has expressed its support for the Africentric Alternative School and its principal Thando Hyman-Aman who was on paid leave for a month while the Toronto District School Board investigated a complaint levelled against her by a parent.
Hyman-Aman was cleared earlier this month of any wrongdoing.
“We had a number of members on the planning committee to set up the school and many of our members have children who are enrolled in the institution,” said AHEN co-chair Jamea Zuberi, a Grade 8 maths, science and physical education teacher at Ryerson Community School.
“As educators, we know exactly what a curriculum that reflects children of African heritage, high expectations and culturally relevant pedagogy would do to any child, much less one of African heritage. There are people in this community who have been advocating for this school for over 40 years and we want to be clear that we are supporting the principal and the school. We are not sitting on the fence on this one because we have a stake in it.”
Zuberi said the fact that over 40 per cent of students of African descent cannot read or write in accordance with the Ontario standards is indicative of the need for the Afrocentric School and other changes in the education system.
“The statement of support that we put out earlier this month is really about looking at the bigger picture which has to do with Black children in our school system,” said Zuberi who also taught at the Linden School and Oakdale Park Middle School. “Black children continue to be pushed out of the school system and we must stand up and be proactive against this.”
In its statement, the AHEN said the Africentric School is a significant response and it has already proven its ability to deliver for Black children in a very short period.
The school opened its doors in September 2009. A total of 69 per cent of the school’s 16 Grade 3 students reached the provincial level 3 standard in reading while 81 per cent did so in reading and writing.
The AHEN executive met recently to discuss tangible ways of supporting the school. Some of the suggestions include a book drive and classroom sponsorship.