Nova Scotia

Black adult learning program at NSCC on hold due to low enrolment

Nova Scotia Community College's adult learning program for black students is on hold until the school can recruit enough students for this fall's classes.

'We're out there recruiting and trying to get students,' says acting dean

The Nova Scotia Community College's African Canadian transition adult learning program is on hold, but access and flexible learning acting dean Jill Provoe says the college is actively recruiting to get enough students. (Sherri Borden Colley/CBC)

Classes are on hold for a Nova Scotia Community College program that helps African Nova Scotians get their high school diploma because there are not enough students.

The college has had difficulties recruiting its targeted 20 students for the past two years, which meant the free program, offered at the college's Akerley campus in Dartmouth, did not run.

"From our perspective, it's an active program that we're out there recruiting and trying to get students to enter into for this academic year," Jill Provoe, acting dean of access and flexible learning, said.

Identity, culture and history

The transition program is a stream of the college's adult learning program where black students receive their high school diploma in a culturally-relevant learning environment. All the instructors are black so the students' identity, culture and history are reflected in the classroom, she said.

"The resources, as much as we could, would be books by black authors. The conversations that we would have in the classroom would be from a black community perspective," Provoe said.

We had people that have been through a lot of trauma, people that have survived incredible events in their lives.- El Jones, former instructor

Provoe had no easy answer as to why there's a lack of interest in the program. The college is reviewing results of community consultations held last year to understand what needs to change.

For example, this year the school is offering an evening program for people who need to keep working while in school, she said.

'Culturally supportive' classes

The Black Educators Association, East Preston United Church and Preston Area Learning Skills Society also offer free adult learning programs. But Provoe said there's still a need for the community college program because it offers an actual high school diploma with credits at a higher level.

It was definitely a confidence booster for me just being there.- Trena Flint, former student

El Jones, one of the transition program's former instructors, said the program reaches out to students that need it the most.

"We had a lot of single mothers returning," Jones said.

"We had people that have been through a lot of trauma, people that have survived incredible events in their lives.

"What this program did was offer them an opportunity to turn their lives around in an environment that was culturally supportive, that was culturally competent, dedicated to them."

'Wonderful and beautiful things' taught

One of the graduates, Trena Flint of Halifax, had quit school when she was 15-years-old and pregnant.

The mother of seven returned to school 22 years later. She received her high school graduation diploma with honours from the college in 2011.

"It was definitely a confidence booster for me just being there," Flint said.

"Where it was Afrocentric, I had never been in an environment that taught me about myself and my heritage — and all the wonderful and beautiful things that had happened throughout my ancestry."

The former stay-at-home mom received her office administration diploma from NSCC in 2012. Flint now works at the college.

About the Author

Sherri Borden Colley has been a reporter for more than 20 years. Many of the stories she writes are about social justice, race and culture, human rights and the courts. To get in touch with Sherri email sherri.borden.colley@cbc.ca