By Lincoln DePradine
Karen Murray, a senior official with the Toronto District School Board, summed up the feeling of TDSB representatives and parents, following Tuesday’s launch of a revised curriculum to be used for the board’s African Heritage Program (AHP).
“I am very, very excited,’’ Murray told The Caribbean Camera. “There is a lot of identity-affirming books in this new revised curriculum.’’
The revised curriculum launch was at Rawlinson Community School, which runs an African Heritage Program. AHP is an after-school initiative of TDSB’s Continuing Education Department.
The new curriculum, among other things, “is designed to provide students with the opportunity to learn and explore experiences inspired by the principles of Nguzo Saba – a Swahili word also known as the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa – that honours people of African Ancestry (and) their rich heritage’’, according to TDSB.
Tuesday’s event also included the introduction of “The Leonard Wandili Library Collection’’. TDSB says it’s “dedicated to the bright spirit and memory of our beloved colleague, Leonard Wandili’’.
The revised curriculum is “enquiry-based’’ and it’s designed to ensure “students can be engaged in so many different ways to express themselves and to share their lived experiences; to learn what it means to keep their legacies and their histories, and to also read about the achievements and contributions of people of African descent’’, said Grace Ocloo, who is employed with the TDSB Continuing Education Department. She’s the International Languages Elementary & African Heritage Program Officer.
Lawyer Anthony Morgan, whose daughter is in Senior Kindergarten at Rawlinson Community School, welcomed the introduction of the revised curriculum.
“It’s exceptionally important that, at an early age, there be positive identifications with Black history, black culture. Because for many Black people, one of the earliest memories is something negative about themselves. But at this age, they’re getting a depth of understanding of our history and culture that will help guide them in those tough moments, if they should experience insults and oth4r negative behavior because they are Black. What they’re getting in the African Heritage Program will help carry them through because they have a better sense of who they actually are, rather than the lies they’ve been told,’’ said Morgan, a racial justice analyst and strategist, who is senior strategic advisor with the City of Toronto.
Murray said her expectation for students participating in the African Heritage Program is that they’ll “feel that they can see themselves in the curriculum; when they show up, once a week, every afternoon, for this program, they’ll feel like they belong’’.
Murray is System Superintendent for Equity, Anti-racism and Anti-oppression, with her responsibilities covering the Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement on Lawrence Avenue East in Scarborough.
Although the AHP is a “once-a-week after-school program, this type of curriculum can be used in any classroom, Monday to Friday’’, Murray said.