Kitchener-Waterloo·Audio

Is it time a Black history course is taught at school?

Now would be a good time to introduce a course on Black history in the elementary and high school curriculum. That’s what two senior high school students with the Waterloo Region District School Board think. And not only do they want to learn about the past, they want a course that moves the discussion forward.

High school students think course should focus both on past and current issues

Two Kitchener high school students believe a Black history course should be part of the Ontario school curriculum. (CBC)

Now would be a good time to introduce a course on Black history in the elementary and high school curriculum.

That's what two senior high school students with the Waterloo Region District School Board think. And not only do they want to learn about the past, they want a course that moves the discussion forward.

Dagmawit Worku is in Grade 12 at Cameron Heights Collegiate and a member of the Black Student Union. She started to educate herself about Black History when she entered high school.

"I think it is kind of ridiculous because the curriculum should be catering to all Black students," said Worku.

"I think it's an important part of history that we can't not acknowledge because if we don't acknowledge it we're doomed to repeat it or it's just never going to go away."

The fabric of education

Peter Rubenschue, a Superintendent with the Waterloo Region District School Board who works with the board's Human Rights and Equity Department, says a Black history course is something the board needs to explore.

"It's not Black History 'month,' it's every day. How do we make this part of the fabric of what education is about?" said Rubenschue. 

"We continue to have conversations with members of our African Caribbean Black advisory [committee],  which is a group of community members that we continue to consult."

The Waterloo Region District School Board has published anti-racism equity resources for parents and students on its website.

Face the future

Bayush Golla observes that the idea for a Black history course has been introduced in the past. Golla is a Grade 12 student and co-Prime Minister of the student body at Eastwood Collegiate. She is also involved in her school's Black Student Union.

Golla believes it is necessary to teach students about race and racism at not only the high school level, but in elementary and middle schools.

"I believe that if you are young enough to experience racism, then you're old enough to be taught about it," said Golla.

"I would love to see more about Black history and about racism in our society today and how we can face it in the future. Things like a health crisis, police brutality and employment issues."

Worku agrees.

"I think [it's important to speak] on small issues like employment, [or] even the difference between cultural appreciation and appropriation," said Worku.

"When you understand the root of why that's wrong, I feel like you can understand why saying the N-word is wrong and why blackface is wrong."

Earlier this month, the Waterloo Region District School board published resources on anti-Black racism, a parent's guide to help start conversations about race and tolerance. But two local high school students hope the school board will go further and add a Black History course to the curriculum. Bayush Golla is a student at Eastwood Collegiate, co-leader of the student body and part of the school's Black Student Union. Also on the line is Dagmawit Worku. She goes to Cameron Heights Collegiate and is the head of the Black Student Union at her school. 11:15

 

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