Toronto Schools Confront Multicultural Issues!

The Toronto School Board is voting on whether to introduce an Afrocentric alternative school among a host of other issues related to multiculturalism and school violence. According to urban planner Mohammad Qadeer of Queens University, the reality is the existence of culturally diverse schools due to population factors in Toronto. However, he notes, despite large concentrations of people from a particular ethnic background, Toronto schools are much more diverse than what is found in American urban areas. “Schools are one of the places where people form social bonds, like offices, clubs, and even bars, so schools that are segregated do pose a problem. You want to increase exposure to people other backgrounds so the children will know each other– or at least know of each other.”

On the other hand, Ainsworth Morgan, an adviser on Afrocentric programs, argues the reality exists of segregated schools and it is necessary to confront how best to handle the situation. It is only recently that Toronto got around to compiling statistics on racial or ethnic backgrounds of its students. There are schools in which nearly 90% of students are from Punjabi background or schools in which a majority are of Chinese backgrounds.

There is never a single solution when dealing with issues of multiculturalism. In some schools parents can be used to assist in situations requiring someone with language ability to aid teachers, in another situation, students can engage in projects to explore the impact of discrimination on people of many backgrounds in the course of Canadian history. In itself an Afrocentric school is not the issue, the more important factor is the type of educational program that is offered.