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Diasporian News of Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Source: abena k. offeh-gyimah, heritage ghanaian church, toronto

Feature: What's Holding Black Children Back?

BLACK YOUTHS AND EDUCATION

It seems that too often our education system works to level down black students, or perhaps black students do not attach any importance to education in their lives. Education day at Heritage Ghanaian S.D.A Church in Toronto reinforced the fact that proper education starts at home. It was emphasized that education should be approached with a high level of importance in the black community; especially, with black youths who are falling through the cracks.

Recently, the Ontario Government through the Toronto Ghanaian S.D.A. church sponsored a program at Brookview Middle School (intersection of Jane and Driftwood) that enables black students to receive assistance for their school assignments. The objective of the program is to help the youths in the community understand the difference education can make in their lives. It is an after school program that assists the youths in the community with their homework and any difficulty they are facing in school. The program will mentor black youths to better understand their surroundings. Furthermore, it will help them use positive strategy to approach issues they are facing.

The program has been successful since put into effect. It is slowly targeting the youths who need help. Youths from other ethnic backgrounds are able to participate. The program has spread its influence among other cultures whose young ones are also falling behind.

During this year’s Education Day held at the Heritage Ghanaian S.D.A, the youths of the Church demonstrated their knowledge of how they viewed their educational system. They discussed the weakness in the system that breaks down black people in their course of learning. The young people organized and participated in the activities on Education Day. These activities included discussing with parents the changes that need to come about with their relationship in order for a breakthrough in the educational system for black youths.

Education day is often held at the Church to encourage the youths to step up in their community. The significance of the Education Day is to deter young people from making the same mistakes their parents made. When the youths participate during such day, it gives the parents a sense of pride that the youths are making an effort.

The Senior Pastor of the two Ghanaian SDA Churches in Toronto, Oppong Damson, delivered a message of hope to the parents and youths, especially the youths in particular. He preached regarding the importance of education with the guidance of God. He mentioned that as young people God should be our focus. His rod must guide us through today’s troubled society. As young people we must thrive and be where God has planned for us. Many black students lack academic confidence in school, thus the program at Brookview is thriving on eliminating this problem.

I believe that so often our parents forget that education begins at home. As Pastor Oppong Damson explained, parents must be a part of their children education lives from childhood. Parents must, however, do it without force. The youths and their parents should be a team to make the best use of the recourses available to them.

Black parents rear their children differently from that of the other cultures or middle class. It was enforced during day’s discussions that parents must take that extra step in giving their children what they need in their education lives, as well as the Christian aspect. Education Day is held every year in the Church to remind parents and youths to enable themselves to achieve higher educational feats through Christ. There is a need for the black youths in our community to be redirected. I hold on to this point because every child should be able to fulfill his/her potential at school, after all the children are the future.



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