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Bringing diversity to early childhood education

Woman speaks with group of young children around a table. They are smiling.
Jaden Dixon (center) is a graduate of the Africentric Early Childhood Education Diploma program.

For the first time in Atlantic Canada, an entirely Africentric experience is available for African Nova Scotians pursuing early childhood education (ECE). Following the graduation of the inaugural Africentric Early Childhood Education Diploma class, a second program offering welcomed African Nova Scotians eager to change the future of early learning in January 2023.

In November, the first 18 graduates from the program were celebrated by family and friends, the campus and broader community in a ceremony at Akerley Campus. These new grads are now taking their next steps to reshape what representation looks like in the early learning field across Nova Scotia.

Representation matters

Representation of African Nova Scotian ECEs is significant to the proper growth and development of African Nova Scotian children who benefit from seeing diversity in their environment, not just hearing about it.

This unique program is taught exclusively by respected African Nova Scotian educators. Each student participates in a work term to implement what they’ve learned in the classroom into a real-life setting.

The lead instructor for the program, Justin West, says, “African Nova Scotians are underrepresented in the ECE field. This means African Nova Scotians are missing out on exciting career opportunities and employers don’t have access to a diverse pool of candidates to hire as employees.”

Making an impact within the community

The first cohort is already making an impact within the community. Already, 14 of the 18 graduates are working in early learning centres throughout the province. Fourteen from the class have also applied to study in Mount Saint Vincent University’s Child and Youth program to continue their education through an articulation agreement with the College.

Grad Senai Colley calls her time at the College a required experience. “I believe this program is needed for our communities to see a positive outcome for our children.” Adding that she feels the program provides a culturally responsive perspective that can bring about impactful, sustainable change within the ECE field in Nova Scotia. “I learned a lot about myself and how I can represent my culture in the future.”

A significant impact on youth

During their November celebration, Nova Scotia Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Becky Druhan noted, "Graduates of the first Africentric ECE program will have a significant impact on youth throughout the province — especially young African Nova Scotians — as they can see themselves reflected in their learning environment. This unique and impactful program will aid in the development of young Nova Scotians who respect and learn the importance of diversity and inclusion.”

To learn about upcoming start dates, visit the Africentric ECE program page.

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