Online Petition: Reintroduce Ashay Programme

July 9, 2020 | 6 Comments

An online petition aiming to see the ‘Ashay: Rites of Passage Programme’ reintroduced to Bermuda’s schools in order to teach “important lessons in Black history, values, and respect” has garnered more than 5,500 signatures since being launched.

Started by Ruth Moran, the petition is addressed to Premier David Burt, Minister of Education Diallo Rabain, Shadow Minister of Education Cole Simons, Deputy Premier Walter Roben, and Opposition Leader Craig Cannonier. The petition can be read and signed online.

A spokesperson said, “One of the many initiatives resulting from the Black Lives Matter Bermuda march last month is an online petition entitled ‘Teach Global Black History in Bermuda Schools.’

“The petition organizer is Mrs. Ruth Moran, a white parent whose daughters received the benefit of the Ashay: Rites of Passage Programme, created by Mwalimu Melodye Micëre Van Putten.”

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Mrs. Moran said, “Ashay instilled in my daughter, Waverley, important lessons in Black history, values, and respect at Dellwood Middle School. The lessons of Ashay were continued for her and her younger sister, Katrina, at The Berkeley Institute. Both of my daughters continue to benefit from the lessons of Ashay as young adults; in fact, Waverley, my oldest daughter, still talks about the impact of Ashay classes.

“The deletion of Ashay in middle schools in Bermuda was a travesty. I was one of the parents who tried in vain to not only keep the programme in the middle schools, but expand it to all of our public schools, from P1 to S4. The hurtful, racist events of our current times brought back the despair of losing Ashay front and center to me yet again, even as my daughters are now young women. The fight for Ashay to be reintroduced in our schools is personal for me.

“When I told my oldest daughter about my plans to start this petition, this is what she had to say: ‘I remember being devastated when Ashay was taken away. I also remember the sense of pride I felt in history classes every time Canada or Ireland was mentioned as contributing on a global stage because of my own personal connection to those places.

“I want that for all young Black Bermudians. So much of their history has been lost because of my ancestors and I want to do what I can to give as much of it back as possible. I want Ashay for my nieces and nephews. I want Ashay for my kids if I have them. I want it for every kid I taught swimming, every teenager I coached on the Spirit of Bermuda.’”

The spokesperson said, “Mrs. Moran believes that the only way we will effectively eradicate the scourge of racism is to teach all of our young people the history so that minds and hearts can be changed; that kind of change cannot be legislated, but must be a seed planted and nurtured through the power of education. All of our children – white and black – need Ashay.

“The creator of the Ashay Programme, Mwalimu Melodye Micëre Van Putten is uniquely qualified, having not only created Ashay, but has trained teachers and written curriculum for a number of school districts across the US, Ghana and Bermuda. An Africalogist, Van Putten has her university degrees from Temple University as a Presidential Fellow and was chosen as a ‘Rising Star’ by Time Magazine in 1989 for Black History Workshops for Children, known as Ashay in Bermuda and Ghana.

“As a motivational speaker and educator, she has shared her expertise throughout the US, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Tanzania, South Africa, and Ghana; most recently, Van Putten opened the Black Lives Matter Bermuda March in Solidarity.

“She is also the author of a dozen books, including Ashay! Bermuda History Stories for Children, a project born of her frustration in not being able to have Black history properly taught in Bermuda schools.

“The petition has over 5,000 signatures and can be accessed here. Ashay means it is good; as a character building programme, it would assist in preventing some of the recent anti-social behaviors in some of our young people.

“Certainly, knowledge of Black history and Black contributions to the world is the missing component for eradicating racism and cultivating respect. Mrs. Moran invites you to join her in fighting for the kind of education we know our young people need. Your comments or experiences with the Ashay Programme are also welcome.”

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Comments (6)

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  1. Bermudian says:

    When did schools stop teaching black history? I along with my 2 kids now in their late teens went through the public system and it was taught. So much so that even Christmas plays were based on Christmas time in Africa and Jamaica. I don’t agree with her saying that black history has been lost.

  2. Equality says:

    I think all history of Bermuda is important not just black history. If we all understand the complete history of Bermuda we will surely all understand the whole process of settlement from day one. Only teaching segments doesn’t help young people grasp the bigger picture. There are many segments of Bermuda history that everyone will find interesting and enlightening.

    • Equity says:

      That’s very “All lives matter” of you…

      Reflecting on my 12 years of education in Bermuda I cannot deny the fact that black history has been taught within public classrooms, however those black history lessons only started with slavery, as if that was the beginning of black lives.

      The Ashay program delineates a richer, extensive, and inspiring look into history that sets young black students to understand their worth, strengths and sometimes even their passions.

      I hate to break it to you, however, there is nothing enlightening about extensive reports on glorified slave masters, it becomes tiresome after a while. I want to know that my ancestors were more than slaves, and this program provides that beautiful knowledge.

      Ashay.

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