The Leonard Braithwaite Program (LBP) is the first Africentric program offered at the secondary school level in Canada. Data collected by the TDSB indicated an increasing achievement gap exists among black students. This is an Africentric Program within a school that is thriving; it is a program that provides students with an alternative way of learning, while still being a part of the Winston Churchill community. The Africentric curriculum is meant to be a critical approach to the curriculum and to thinking about the curriculum and the nature of curricular knowledge. All materials and subject areas can be adapted to an Africentric perspective and are in Leonard Braithwaite Program. The concept of Africentricity combines two words – Africa or African and centricity.Molefi Asante, one of the seminal Africentric education theorists, defines the concept of centricity as "a perspective that involves locating students within the context of their own cultural references so that they can relate socially and psychologically to other cultural perspectives." The concept of centricity can be applied to any culture, although, the catalyst for centering African and other non-dominant cultures arises from a global reality in a post-colonial era where the accomplishments, contributions, perspectives and ways of seeing and knowing the world of European peoples are well known and normalized.
The program was introduced in the 2013-2014 school year at the grade 9 level and we currently are running the program for students in grades 9 to 12. Our past graduating classes comprised of 28 students, with 23 of them are currently pursuing their post-secondary education. We are proud of our success, as many of our students were recommended to be in the Locally Develop, Applied and Academic programs of study. The ultimate goal of the LBP is to have students succeed and right now the best way of helping students achieve is by providing them choice.
The program offers students from grade 9 to 12 the opportunity to learn through an Africentric lens in the credit-granting, enhanced pathways program that allows students to meet achievement expectations, without defining their educational pathways. The courses are taught using the academic curriculum in order to provide students with the most choice for future pathways; however, through the use of layered curriculum, students will reach the required expectations in their own way, even if they are currently not at the academic course type. [Layered curriculum means that students move towards the same expectations taking different paths. One student may only need to complete one assignment to reach a particular expectation where as another student may need to do 4 assignments that build on one another to reach that same expectation].
As Africentric curriculum has often been misconstrued in the public and in educational circles, to provide more clarity to the above definition, Africentric curriculum is not:
- A replacement for Eurocentric curriculum which simply glorifies people of African descent as the champions of progress and civilization and negates the contributions and perspectives of other racial groups
- Curriculum solely about systems of slavery, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, or the enslavement of African peoples
- Solely an opportunity to hi-light the historical contributions of people of African descent
- An emphasis on casting people of African descent globally as victims of racism and discrimination
- An emphasis on casting people of African descent as lacking agency or being passive receivers of the oppressive actions of others
- An opportunity to engage in “competing oppressions” or to compare the oppression of African peoples to that of other oppressed peoples around the world
- An emphasizing of the centrality of race in the social experience to the detriment of recognizing and discussing the impact of other identities on the experiences of individuals and communities
- The sole answer to the disengagement and underachievement of some students of African descent
- Necessarily of interest to all students and teachers who consider themselves to be of African descent