The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development’s ‘Black History Month’ celebrations in schools have come in for high praise. This accolade was given by Acting Director of the Commission for Pan-African Affairs, Deryck Murray, who described the initiative as “a catalyst to open-(up) the thinking and minds of children to something that is normally presented to them as alien.”
Speaking at the ‘Let’s Celebrate Afrika’ presentation at the Grantley Adams Memorial School, Mr. Murray said he was “extremely happy that the Ministry had taken on board the idea of an African Awareness Day in schools. It is an excellent opportunity for students, where they can be actively involved in putting together exhibits, modeling African garments and the various activities connected to the event.”
Mr. Murray revealed that the Commission would be seeking to work closely with the Ministry in the future. “We are aware that many organisations are interested in having a curriculum in schools. We however believe that every subject can be taught from an Afro-centric perspective… so our approach is getting teachers to ask, what is the black contribution to subjects such as mathematics, language and science,” he stressed.
The Acting Director explained that the Commission’s role was to serve as a resource for government agencies and civil society. “We provide raw materials, research, technical assistance, books and journals to point teachers in the correct direction. At present the Commission is carrying out an ongoing training programme which we intend to offer to teachers in the near future,” he stated.
Mr. Murray however stressed that the education of children was the Commission’s major focus.
“Our emphasis is children first. Remember we are talking about the decolonisation of our thinking. Very often, by the time we are adults, we have already formed certain patterns of thinking…not that we cannot change, but it is fairly difficult. We will therefore start our programme with primary school children and work our way up. No one will be excluded,” he noted.