Students will thrive in a nurturing environment

A CHILD that lives with ridicule learns to be timid

A CHILD that lives with criticism learns to condemn

A CHILD that lives with distrust learns to be deceitful

A CHILD that lives with antagonism learns to be hostile

A CHILD that lives with affection learns to love

A CHILD that lives with encouragement learns confidence

A CHILD that lives with truth learns justice

A CHILD that lives with praise learns to appreciate

A CHILD that lives with sharing learns to be considerate

A CHILD that lives with knowledge learns wisdom

A CHILD that lives with patience learns to be tolerant

A CHILD that lives with happiness will find love and beauty

Ronald Russell (1971)

What is your child living with in the school he or she attends?

As parents, we send our children to school trusting that the people who have been trained to teach will know the truth of these words that are credited to Ronald Russell. We trust that the people who have the power to shape the lives of our children for ill or good will have our children’s best interest at heart. We trust that our children’s teachers will be nurturing, supportive and sensitive. We trust that teachers will not harm our children physically, mentally or emotionally, by accident, intent or omission.

There are teachers, good teachers and excellent teachers. No teacher should ridicule a student and a good teacher would never have to resort to ridiculing children to exercise their authority in the classroom. An excellent teacher is one who can capture and hold the attention and interest of their students.

At the Africentric Alternative School, parents, teachers and community have the opportunity and the responsibility to work together to ensure that our children, our future, the next generation of students attending this school, must not suffer the effects of the disconnectedness that has plagued older generations.

This disconnectedness has contributed to self-hatred and community powerlessness as previous generations strove to emulate what they considered a superior White culture because they did not understand that their indigenous (African) culture from which they had been disconnected through slavery was a match with – and in some cases had served as the basis for – White culture.

This Africentric School has been described as a Black-focused school by some who cannot grasp the concept of Africentricity. A Black-focused school could be any school where the students and staff are identified as Black and where the minds of the Black staff are so colonized that they can only see themselves and their students through the eyes of a White supremacist lens.

Dr. Wade W. Nobles, Professor at San Francisco State University: “Afrocentric, Africentric or African Centered” are interchangeable terms representing the concept which categorizes a quality of thought and practice which is rooted in the cultural image and interest of African people and which represents and reflects the life experiences, history and traditions of African people as the center of analyses. It is therein, the intellectual and philosophical foundation which African people should create their own scientific criterion for authenticating human reality.”

We have advocated for decades for the establishment of Africentric schools where our children can learn about their history and culture as they are being educated to live as contributing members of our society and world community. We have been successful in the establishment of an Africentric Alternative School and the community has to be involved in supporting the staff to ensure that this school is successful in educating our children.

From Akan to Zulu, our children must have some understanding of who we are just as they are made aware of the European nations when they attend other schools in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB.)

The Pan-African concept is an important part of Africentric education and the recognition of Kiswahili as the most widely spoken African language is part of what the children learn as the Nguzo Saba (seven principles) of Kwanzaa is prominently displayed in each classroom. Pan Africanism also helps to mend the disconnectedness caused by the Maafa and the divide and conquer that was used with such devastating effect. This is a learning process for students, teachers, parents and community.

When the decision was made to establish this school there were many who resisted and insisted it would not become a reality. A group of dedicated community members worked long hours and many months strategizing and volunteering to educate our community to counter the negative information that was scattered far and wide. There was much ridicule when enrolment was slow, but on the first day of school, September 8, 2009, the kindergarten class alone had more than 40 students and was eventually divided into two classes. By the end of the first week of school there were more than 100 students enrolled and a growing waiting list of parents eager to enroll their children in the school.

With staff knowledgeable in the Pan Africanist principle and the Nguzo Saba, we can look forward to students who, upon graduating from the Africentric Alternative School, will be on the road to becoming adults who will be socially, politically and economically productive since they are being educated in an affirming, safe and supportive environment where there is mutual respect and recognition of our community’s contributions to world progress.

tiakoma@aol.com

 

 

 

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