African Nova Scotian students attending higher education institutions on the rise, report shows

Monique Chiasson
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TRURO - A report examining the effectiveness of African Nova Scotian students' educational programs and support systems has good and bad news.
The report makes 30 key recommendations aimed at improving opportunities and achievement for Nova Scotia's 4,000 students of African ancestry.
One concern is lack of data on the performance of African Nova Scotian students, making it a challenge to accurately determine how well black students are doing.
"... we recognized there's been a lack of data and have been collecting our own over time," said Vivian Farrell, chair of Chignecto-Central Regional School Board's education services committee.
Farrell said CCRSB uses tools such as intensive literacy programs, suspension and discipline practices and provincial test scores as data being collected.
The study also indicates there's a perception that too many African Nova Scotian learners are on individual program plans, which are seen as a potential barrier to accessing important academic programs and scholarships. It also found the caseloads of student support workers may be too high.
The good news includes the number of African Nova Scotian students attending higher education institutions increased steadily over the last four years, from 246 in 2004 to 378 last year. Many students are also benefiting from Afrocentric curriculum choices.
However, Shirley Robinson-Levering, the African Nova Scotian school board representative with the CCRSB, said there is something vital missing from the report.
"There's not enough said about the use of African Nova Scotian reps on school boards. We have very valuable input," she said.
Robinson-Levering believes simple things can be done to improve student learning.
"There should be something welcoming and visible in schools for all students of diversity so they feel accepted," she said.
"We need to be accepted all the time, not just when African Heritage Month comes in February; we're black all year."
The report was conducted by educator Enid Lee. She was appointed in October 2008 to examine the progress made since the implementation of the Black Learners Advisory Committee Report: Redressing Inequity and Empowering Black Learners in 1994.
The report can be viewed and commented on at www.ednet.ns.ca. The deadline for public input is Jan. 29.

mchiasson@trurodaily.com

Organizations: African Nova Scotian school board, Central Regional School Board

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Chignecto

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