These 4 Afrocentric Schools Teach Kids Their Culture As a Matter Of Approach

Afrocentric schools provide a culturally-rich alternative for Black parents who have felt excluded from traditional education systems.

A Black teacher assists a boy working tablet at school
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From the outside looking in, it's understandable to see how the United States peaked at number 1 on the list of best educational systems in the world, according to U.S. News and World Review. However, while the system may be highly ranked, test scores and literacy rates are significantly low, with more than half of adults✎ EditSign between the ages of 16 and 74 years old lacking a proficient level of literacy. The achievement gap, a term defined as the disparity in educational performance in a group of students, which can be based on elements such as gender or race, also attests to the U.S.'s problem of providing an adequate and equal experience for all pupils.

Socioeconomic factors, inclusive of financial security, lack of educational funding, and access to higher education, mainly contribute to the gap, and the ramifications of COVID19 only widened it. While around one-third of Black students live in homes without access to high-speed internet, students of color, in general, are more likely to live in remote-only districts. Without mandates in place to push for equal and long-term access to the internet and computers for children at home, students can fall behind when virtual learning is required.

Along with a lack of access and resources, a plethora of states have made considerable efforts in banning critical race theory, a concept that racism is embedded in our society through our legal systems and policies. This can affect a variety of elements that we deal with daily, such as getting approval for housing or receiving acceptable healthcare. There has also been a push to ban books that have crucial relevancy and meaning to Black culture. Books, like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, are no longer allowed to be reviewed in some school districts. With our history either being watered down or filtered out of the education system, some parents are considering Afrocentric schools as a better alternative.

Afrocentric schools are primarily comprised of Black students, educators, and admin. This type of education focuses on building Black students' confidence and self-esteem through African culture, ideals, values, and history. They also place a strong emphasis on operating as a community with joint efforts and shared responsibilities. There is a shared connection within many Afrocentric schools as many follow some of the same principles: kujichagulia, self-determination; umoja, unity; ujima, collective work and responsibility; ujamaa, cooperative economics; and kuumba, creativity.

For parents who may be searching, here's a list of a few Afrocentric schools across the United States:

Nubian Village Academy

Nubian Village Academy, located in Richmond, Virginia, originally began in the fall of 2001 as a pre-K through 8th-grade institution. Eventually, admin saw a need to create access for underrepresented students who were interested in careers in STEM and created the Pre-College Initiative of the National Society of Black Engineers in 2009 to stimulate interest. This program was targeted at students in grades 3 through 12. This shift created what the school is now referred to as NVA STEM. Students have access to STEM competitions, conferences, college fairs, and trips abroad. In sticking close to Afrocentric ideals, students are also offered community service opportunities. Currently, 100% of students who graduated from NVA STEM attended a college or university, with over 90% majoring in STEM.

Columbus Africentric Early College

Located in Columbus, Ohio, Columbus Africentric Early College (CAEC) serves to educate students from pre-K through 12th grade. This institution's foundation is the principle of Sankofa—a Twi word from the Akan people of Ghana meaning "it is not forbidden to fetch what is at risk of being left behind." CAEC intertwines Columbus City Schools' curriculum with the community values of Nguzo Saba, which include values like purpose, creativity, unity, faith, and self-determination, along with the leadership principles of Maat.

This school also provides pupils with the opportunity to earn an associate of arts or science transfer degree from Columbus State Community College upon completion. With special programs including mentoring, leadership and cultural assemblies, and celebration of leadership community events, CEAC aims to prepare students to excel at their highest level of potential.

Kilombo Academic and Cultural Institute

In Decatur, Georgia, Kilombo Academic and Cultural Institute's mission is to develop students into individuals who are prepared to succeed on a global scale while being committed to social justice. Their curriculum centers African methodology, setting an intention to develop Imani, a faith-based belief, and commitment to all that is grounded in African values. Serving Kindergarten through 8th grade students, this school also models principles of Maat, inclusive of truth, reciprocity, and harmony and balance. Guardians of Kilombo's students are also expected to attend parent meetings and have to complete a minimum amount of required volunteer hours with the institution per year.

Ile Omode

Ile Omode, an institution whose name comes from the words of the Yoruba people of West Africa, is located in Oakland, California. Ile Omode means "house of the children." Starting out as a preschool and eventually adding elementary and middle school grades, this institution's purpose is to cultivate its students into becoming leaders and workers in the community.

Ile Omode partners with a local community college to provide students with the opportunity to concurrently enroll in an advanced math course. Currently, every student who completed the course passed with an "A." This school places value on high academic standards, cleanliness and order, health and heart, providing a safe environment, family and community, and cultural authenticity. The purpose of Nkrumah International Academy in Chicago, IL is to encourage and build up Afrikan children into functional humans who are exceptional, driven, and academically intense. This academy, which is tailored to Afrikan youth in an effort to promote critical thinking and community building, offers pre-law, pre-engineering, pre-med, and entrepreneurship courses and programs to students in grades 5-12. Nkrumah's essentials of cultural development stem from pan-Afrikanism, Afrikan and Afrikan American culture, black nationalism, and education as opposed to schooling.

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