An Empowering Curriculum for the African Barbadian Student Pt1.

“When I put my heart and mind in their place, I began to see and understand. When I touched the rhythms of their lives, they began to respect me and respond”

The philosophy of Afrocentric curriculum gets it basis from the seven principles of Kwanzaa, also known as the Nguzo Saba. These ideologies are the foundation for students’academic, social, and moral development. The principles include kujichagulia (self- determination), umoja (unity), nia (purpose), imani (faith), ujamaa (cooperative economics), kuumba (creativity), and ujima (collective work and responsibility). The Nguzo Saba provides the standard for the Afrocentric teaching and learning paradigm (Covington-Clarkson & Johnstone, 2011), and has proven to work to promote both academic achievement and social competence in Black children, especially for those from low-income families (Lapoint, Ellison, & Boykin, 2006).

African-centered curriculum is an avenue by which truth is restored to the curriculum. It not only creates an avenue to develop cultural equality, but is also needed to provide leadership in educational reform (Durden, 2007). Nevertheless, it is not without criticism. The African-centered Schools Movement threatens the present status quo. Proponents of African-centered education believe that with this type of instruction the Black community will develop the strong cultural base necessary to uplift their families and communities in spite of the existence of institutionalized racism and adverse economic conditions. In Afrocentrist’s view, blame, no matter where it is placed, is not the solution, and only serves to erode the sense of national pride necessary to develop Black consciousness. Blacks must find a way to control their own direction and purpose. This school of thought, viewed as radical because of its diversion from the present suggestion that Blacks need whites in order to have a quality education, brings a level of discomfort to those who endeavor to keep Blacks disenfranchised. (Merry & New, 2008). Another criticism leveled at proponents of Afrocentric education is that it singles out and focuses attention on Black children. And while other ethnic groups have not received such criticism, for example Catholics engage in Catholic-centered education, and Jewish-centered schools teach their children to participate in the larger society, but are taught that their first allegiance is to Jewish needs and causes (Shockley, 2007), the African-centered Schools Movement has been accused of disuniting America (Shockley, 2010). It has also been charged with abandoning the democratic purposes of the civil rights movement and minimizing its successes (Merry and New, 2008). Still others claim that Afrocentric education teaches myths as facts and instills a sense of false pride in Black children (Shockley, 2010). This is in part due to the fact that the true nature of African history has been intentionally excluded from the standard curriculum, reducing most mainstream discourse concerning African American history to begin in slavery, negating the rich history of Africa that is tens of thousands years old.

More recently, African-centered schooling has been given more serious consideration. The 21st century brought in a new era focused on accountability and high stakes testing in an attempt to raise academic achievement in Eurocentric schools that have come under scrutiny due to their low performance nationwide. Comprehensive reform has become the order of the day, and the Afrocentric method of instruction, which focuses on the holistic development of students, has been viewed as a potential solution (Durden, 2007). This has created an avenue for
the rapid growth of African-centered schools across the country, many by way of charter and voucher school movements (Merry and New, 2008). The time has come for African-centered instruction to be considered as a viable solution to educating the African American child."

Problems related to the education of African descended children are not unique to the African American child. It is the opinion of the African Heritage Foundation, that African descended Barbadian children face the same situation as their brothers and sisters in America. Thus this charity is convinced that an African centered curriculum is essential to  the overall development of our youth. On Sunday the 12th November, the African Heritage Foundation will host the first of several meetings that are aimed at the development of an African centered curriculum for Barbados. The meeting will take place at 6pm at the charity's headquarters on Two Mile Hill. You can call 262 0068, or whatsapp 268 7084 for more information on this meeting or directions.

The evolution of education is everyone's business.

Adapted from a paper on education written by Frances Newman

To find out about the Home Directed Learning Service, an initiative developed by the African Heritage Foundation, please visit www.alkebulanacademy.com

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