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The African Heritage Foundation (AHF) has conceptualized an online comprehension challenge that will engage secondary school students in reading and encourage critical thinking. The aim is to increase self awareness and empower our young people through education of our diverse heritage and culture and the contribution of people of African descent to the development of societies.
According to the 2012 Barbados census, approximately 80% to 90% of the country’s population are people of African descent. However, we do not have any kind of Afrocentric education that entails studying, celebrating and incorporating our heritage in a way to adequately develop and sustain our children. It is very unfortunate that the children of African descent in Barbados have not been suitably prepared to deal with our reality. The AHF is using the online challenges one method of improving our knowledge of the continent, using knowledge of our history and our culture to better equip us to be able to solve some of the complex issues that face our society and meet the needs of our people.
One of the mandates of the Foundation is to combat some of the distortion that people of African descent have experienced as a result of the transatlantic slave trade as well as colonization that took place on the mother land. Over the course of 400 years, we were systematically robbed of our identity – we were stripped of our original languages, our original African names, our spirituality and culture. It is now critical for us to attempt to remove the negative stereotypes currently associated with African people and focus on obtaining a deeper, more uplifting and empowering understanding of our heritage.
Afrocentric education helps to reconstruct positive African identities around the best morals, values and cultural practices that both traditional and contemporary African societies have to offer. Furthermore, a 2012 study published in the journal Child Development found “racial pride to be the most powerful factor in protecting children from the sting of discriminatory behaviour. It directly and positively related to three out of four academic outcomes—grade-point averages, educational aspirations, and cognitive engagement—and was also related to resilience in the face of discrimination.”
With the Knowledge Is Power Secondary School Online Challenge, the AHF aims to work within the schools to play a role in the re-education of our children and the reconstruction of our identities. We will use several articles found on this website, as the source for the information from which the questions included in each online challenge will be taken. Articles will cover African history, including pre-colonial history and African politics, economics, culture, spirituality and philosophy. Among other things, the young people will learn about business, innovation, successful entrepreneurs, current events and various lifestyles.
The UN General Assembly proclaimed 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent ( resolution 68/237) citing the need to strengthen national, regional and international cooperation in relation to the full enjoyment of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights by people of African descent and their full and equal participation in all aspects of society.
As proclaimed by the General Assembly, the theme for the International Decade is “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.” In this declaration, one of the objectives of the UN General Assembly is to promote a greater knowledge of and respect for the diverse heritage, culture and contribution of people of African descent to the development of societies.
The AHF has created the Knowledge Is Power Secondary School Online Challenge in recognition of this UN General Secretary objective. This challenge will expose students to African heritage and culture, past and present. The aim is to encourage them to read and analyse the information provided through a number of articles to answer related questions. The students will learn about events, places and persons relevant to Africa and her descendants across the globe.
It is important that we are aware of the fact that the African continent encompasses a diverse set of more than 50 nations, each made up of a variety of urban and rural cultures, lifestyles and socioeconomic realities. Rates of urbanization in Africa are the highest in the world. By 2025, it is expected that more than half of the African population will be urban. However, Barbadians are often surprised to learn that the majority of Africans have never seen large wildlife. We want to inspire our young people with of the realities of wealth, power and good health that do exist throughout the continent in contrast to the typical media images of African people living in abject poverty, suffering from disease or the devastation of inter-regional conflict, turmoil and war.
The AHF believes that it is critical to attempt to combat the ongoing, detrimental exposure to negative images. As teachers, parents and other adults, we must carefully examine and challenge our own knowledge and assumptions about African environments, customs, traditions and cultural realities. Otherwise, our misimpressions influence the kinds of learning opportunities we create for children. Constant association of Africa with animals, poverty and off key behaviours affects the perception of black Barbadians and contributes directly to internalized racism. We are aware that many black children in Barbados (and indeed, many black adults) want to distance themselves from any association with their African heritage. Preeminent educator and author Dr. Amos Wilson argues that a consequence of the distortion of a people’s culture is an impaired capacity to appropriately organize, evaluate and classify information to deal with reality.
Professor and author, Dr. Wade Nobles states in Madhubuti & Madhubuti that an “African-centered curriculum appropriately connects the Black experience to the African cultural world view and value system. This connection facilitates a healthy context from which [people of African descent] can learn about and understand themselves and the world.” The Afrocentric approach in education involves working with Black students to master the academic disciplines from a perspective that grounds them in an African reality. That means children are taught about events, places, people and things, with crucial reference to and in the critical context of the historical trajectory of people of African descent. Afrocentric scholars distinguish between education – which is a transformative process that leads toward skill mastery and knowledge of oneself, and training – which is a process of learning how to get along in a system. True education offers students knowledge of how to administer within their own communities and how to solve the problems therein.
Africa currently offers vast markets for economic advancement and cultural growth. What students in Barbados learn about Africa impacts our country’s relationship with and policies toward African nations. We want to encourage our young people to be able to challenge the negative stereotypes by developing a more respectful understanding of the level of social and economic development of the various countries. If the next generation develops this knowledge, then we can expect that our foreign relations and attitudes and policies toward trade will follow suit.
The Knowledge Is Power Secondary School Online Challenge is a reading comprehension exercise that will expose students to many varied aspects of African history and modern society. In the first two terms of the school year, each month, one online challenge will be run throughout all the participating schools. There will be one or more contact persons at each school who will be responsible for working with the AHF to administer the challenge.
Each month, the test will be administered at the beginning of the month. Knowledge Is Power will include 10 articles from which students are challenged to answer 20 questions. The students will be provided with the names of the articles so a simple search of the website will locate the relevant articles. Students will have until the last day of each month to complete and submit the responses to the challenge.
Students will be asked to complete the exercise online on form provided. They will be asked to provide their names, schools, contact information and the responses to the 20 questions. The project management team will have direct access to their entries and print them for the draw.
Once all submissions have been received, a draw will be held to select a winning entry, which will be published in the media. All entries will be assessed by the project management team to determine the accuracy of the responses. Only entrants who have answered all the questions correctly will be entered into the draw and will have a chance of being selected to win the prize. Depending on the level of sponsorship, there may also be other prizes for others who have all the correct answers.
We hope that of the 22 secondary schools in Barbados, approximately 12-15 will be interested in participating once a pilot project has been completed. We will start with a maximum of 50 participants from each school, with the expectation that at least 20 students from each school will actually participate in the challenge. We therefore expect approximately 300 entries participating in the initial months of the challenge.
We expect that this activity will be a catalyst for collaboration between the AHF and the secondary schools with further educational activities.
A pilot challenge will be run for one month with Queens College. Dr Browne principal of Queens College is very welcoming to the idea of Knowledge Is Power and is anxious for the pilot to commence. We will start in October 2015. The pilot is expected to assist the AHF in determining the following:
- The number of students willing to participate within each school;
- The number of entries that are likely to be included in each draw (that is, the entries with all 20 correct responses) from each school;
- The number of articles to be used each month as the challenge develops and grows;
- The number of questions that should be asked for each article;
- The level of sponsorship that can be achieved for the administration and promotion of this activity and to purchase the prizes that will encourage the students to participate.
A maximum of 50 students will be asked to participate in the pilot project. The online challenge will be prepared, so that we can disseminate the quiz on October 1, 2015.The first 50 students who demonstrate interest and sign up will be eligible for entry in the prize draw. The challenge will be run until October 31, 2015 and all the entries assessed within 48 hours of challenge completion. The draw will be completed by November 15, 2015 in the school hall. The media will be invited to be present at the draw, so that we can use this footage to further publicize the project. Once a winning entry is chosen, the student will be presented with the prize at the time of the draw. As indicated above, depending on the level of sponsorship, other prizes will also be given.
Images from the launch of the pilot project held on the 5/10/2015
Ms Danielle Topin presented the project to the school on behalf of the AHF.
AHF president with Dr Lashley deputy principal of Queens College and below with Dr Browne principal of Queens College.
Your feedback on this project is welcomed. If you would like to make a donation to this project to enable us to award more students prizes, you can do so by calling 230 3185 or by donating through this website.
Should you require more information on the challenge please email us at email@example.com.