Toronto set to launch black-focused school

Wed Jan 30, 2008 3:44pm EST
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By Julie Gordon

TORONTO (Reuters) - The largest school board in Canada plans to launch a black-focused school to tackle the problem of high dropout rates.

In a vote late on Tuesday, The Toronto District School Board decided to move ahead with the project after months of debate over the value of creating an Afro-centric school. About 12 percent of students in Toronto schools identify themselves as black, according to government data.

"We are committed to providing the resources and supportive learning environments that all our students need," Gerry Connelly, a director of the TDSB, said in a press conference on Wednesday.

The board said that the black-focused school will help give at-risk students a better chance to succeed at university, college or in the workplace.

The board committed to opening one Afro-centric school by 2009 and will also launch a program to teach the history and culture of black Canadians in three existing high schools.

The Afro-centric school will teach subjects from the black perspective, the board said, rather than from the traditional perspective, which is seen as Euro-centric.

Educator Paul Green, who was present at the vote Tuesday evening, said he was "elated" by the decision.

"It's been a long time coming. It's lost on people, but this is 30 years of the same statistics," he said.   Continued...