Students and teachers join the Africentric debate

The opinions of local educators and students have flown below the radar in the days since the decision by the Toronto school board to approve Afrocentric schooling.

But there is no shortage of ideas if anyone thinks to ask.

“It’s trying to address a problem that does need addressing,” said Permell Ashby, a teacher at Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate. “But I’m not convinced that the schools alone will help because there are other factors involved in the non-success of students.”

Ashby thinks the school is a positive idea, but believes the root problem is poverty. She said focusing on updating curriculum or opening new schools neglects “a whole range of other factors.”

Veteran teacher Dr. Kuvear Balbahadur disagrees.

“I’ve lived in various countries and the problems are the same. This is not going to work,” said Balbahadur.

He thinks the problem lies not in the schools, but starts much earlier.

“The good students come from good homes, and you can tell the difference,” Balbahadur said. “It’s not just black kids, there are other kids that are doing just as badly and worse. Should they get their own brown schools or white schools?”

One opinion that these two teachers could agree on was that there should be subtle changes made in curriculum across the public system to include more Afrocentric learning. This is an idea that black students favour as well.

“We already have programs within the school that are bringing students together,” said Janet and Samara, students at Mowat.

They believe Afrocentric schools are a step in the wrong direction and that a multicultural approach would benefit everyone, not only the black community.

“It’s other cultures that don’t know, and they need to know,” said one. “It should be about bringing our culture to other people.”