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â:..â                                    Editor: V.N.Giritharan
2005 63 -
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Canada!
National Press And Media Council Of Canada!

Making The Grade - Next Steps!

NEPMCCThe forum Making the Grade - Are We failing our Black Youth? was held on Wednesday February 2, 2005 at the St Lawrence Centre.  The forum was unquestionably a resounding success.  All the major stakeholders were present, not necessarily on the stage as panellists, but their representatives were there to listen.  What they heard was an outpouring of emotions that covered the full spectrum of engagement.  One panellist in particular, plus, many Youths were adamant, that Black Youth are not dropping out of school they are being pushed out, hence, the high percentage of Black Youth at risk (38%).  In addition there was great concern about the whole issue of mentorship and role-models, which they thought are non existent at the Toronto District School Board.

The high number of Black educators present was very instructive.  Although most were clearly frustrated with some of the stakeholders i.e. the TDSB and parents, they were largely there to listen and offer support.

As organizers we looked at points from which we would draw input and energy to take this forum to the next step.  The panellists were excellent, they provided the first hint of the evening as to where the next step should take us.  Then came the question and answer period, and it was indeed clearer; the frustration and the powerlessness was everywhere, articulated both in questions and points of view.  After the forum it was announced that there would be a round table discussion to formulate ideas for next steps.  Surprise, surprise - Two hundred persons showed up, and the discussions went on for a full hour after the forum. 

Next Steps:

Convening of a second forum at a larger venue (Possibly Convocation Hall, University of Toronto) - Making the Grade - Next Steps. Organizing a clearing house, in the form of a website.  This clearing house will gather and disseminate a list of all the organizations that are already doing great work.  The where, the what they are doing and their contact information.  Also what the TDSB is doing.  This is already on the way. 

A major push to engage the Black Community around political activities centred on education for our Black Youth. 

Through a series of meetings with the upper echelon of the TDSB, to investigate actions around guidance counselling, the need to recognise the role of social work in this equation and the implementation of programmes aimed at the Black Youth.   This process has started 

Through a series of meetings with the Minister of Education, establishing the need to look at some provincial legislation and have the Ministry play an important role in putting the pieces in place that will accommodate positive results. 

The Mayor of Toronto talked about nine (9) catchment areas in The City of Toronto.  Using four (4) of these catchment areas, the overwhelming position is, the TDSB and the Ministry of Education gather the political will to establish a pilot project of approximately 9 schools where the concept of Black Focus Education or Black Alternative Education be the driving force.  This will be assessed after two years and the appropriate action(s) taken.  It is clear what will emerge to the fore, will be those Black Youths who do not have to worry about all the extraneous issues will perform better.  This environ will address and correct some of the problems affecting their learning.  We have to move to the next step where being Black does not obstruct the process of learning.

- Thomas S. Saras, 
President, National Press And Media Council Of Canada -
416- 921 4229, saras@nepmcc.ca 


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