The Africentric Alternative School is focusing on images of black beauty and illusive icons for Black History month this year. But unlike most other schools in Canada, this is not much of a departure from the regular currlculum, as most of their studies take place in a black context.
The school has been open for only four years but In that time it has grown to 190 students in classes from kindergarten to grade 8, with more on the waiting list.
Parents, who fought hard to have the school created, drive their children from far and wide in the Greater Toronto Area, to provide the experience of an education that reflects their heritage.
Leopold Campbell is the Vice Principal at the school that goes by its generic name. I asked him why it’s not named after a great Afro-Canadian, and he says, like the school, it is straightforward.
Housed within a larger public school, it was created in response to the dismal experience young black children were having in Toronto’s education system; 40% of Carribean-Canadian students, and 32% of African-Canadian students were failing and dropping out.
While there was a passionate debate about the Africentric school as one of the solutions, people feeling it harked back to the days of segregation and that the mixed environments were best, the choice that parents have exercised to eroll their children in the program seems to be paying off. Participation and marks are much improved.
All children are welcome, but the curriculum is tailored to children of African background. The first graduating class left the school last year, and the Toronto District School Board has created two complimentary programs in high school to allow students the ability to continue in this context of study.
Carmel Kilkenny spoke with Leopold Campbell to find out more: Listen