FESI wraps up 2020-21 series with webinar that explores streaming in schooling

online learning
online learning

The final event in the five-part Faculty of Education’s Summer Institute (FESI 2020-21), held virtually over the last several months, will wrap up on April 21 with a dynamic, diverse panel that will explore streaming and educational pathways in Ontario schools.

FESI, a long-running annual conference that brings together stakeholders in education to evaluate educational beliefs, policies and practices, will continue this year in a virtual format.

Poster to advertise FESI Streaming in SchoolsTitled “Streaming in Schooling,” the event will explore Ontario’s education policy that states that the schools should keep “options open for all students.” Some people assert that streaming allows students to choose subjects based on their interests and preferred career pathways. In reality, streaming closes many options to students and limits their life and career choices.

Systemic bias, racism, ableism and deficit thinking results in the streaming and sorting of students based on perceived academic abilities. In particular, Black and Indigenous students, students with disabilities, newcomer and refugee students, and students marginalized by poverty are disproportionately harmed by these processes and structures.

Mechanisms for streaming and sorting happen as early as kindergarten and set students up for pre-determined pathways that impact academic options, career pathways, quality of life, financial security and health. Join the Faculty of Education for a conversation with educators and researchers that are grappling with these very issues to learn, challenge these practices, and reimagine future possibilities to support all students in Ontario.

Themes that will be explored on this panel include:

  • Impact of streaming (short term and long term) on minoritized groups.
  • What are some of the myths, mindsets, frameworks that give rise to streaming?
  • Problematizing streaming as a racist, oppressive, and limiting barrier.
  • De-streaming in practice (what does it look like? What should people be aware of? How can we avoid creating more barriers to access in the process?)
  • What potential does de-streaming offer? What would an ideal schooling structure that supported all students equitably look like?
Alison Gaymes San Vicente
Alison Gaymes San Vicente

Alison Gaymes San Vicente works to disrupt educational practices that continue to disadvantage historically marginalized/underserved students. Her passion for equity and justice has led to a secondment at York University’s Faculty of Education and her current position as a centrally assigned principal of a virtual school with 12,000 students and prior to this a centrally assigned principal for Principal Coaching, Equity & School Improvement with the Toronto District School Board. She is the recipient of the Queen Diamond Jubilee Award (2014) as well as one of Canada’s Outstanding Principals in 2016. In addition to being a member of the provincial writing team for the Principal’s Qualification Program (2017), she is also an author in Our Schools, Ourselves – Community Watch: Marginal At Best, A Narrative on Streaming in Public Education (2016);  Restacking the Deck: Streaming by class, race and gender in Ontario schools (2014); Rhymes to Re-education: A Hip Hop Curriculum Resource Guide for Educators with Social Justice Activities (2014); The Leader Reader (2018); RSEKN  Streaming and Educational Pathways (Equity Podcast Series, 2019); VoicEd Radio Interview Schooling for Equity During and Beyond COVID-19 (2019); and her latest publication Schooling for Equity During and Beyond COVID-19 (2019).

Gillian Parekh
Gillian Parekh

Gillian Parekh is an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in Inclusion, Disability and Education within the Faculty of Education at York. As a previous teacher in special education and research coordinator with the Toronto District School Board, Parekh has conducted extensive system and school-based research in Toronto in the areas of structural equity, special education and academic streaming. In particular, her work explores how schools construct and respond to disability as well as how students are organized across programs and systems.

Monday Gala
Monday Gala

Monday Gala has been an educator in classrooms from elementary to university for almost 36 years, with six years in Nigeria and 30 years in Canada. He earned a BSc from the University of Maiduguri and an MSc in physics from The University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He had the distinct privilege of completing his PhD at Western University in Canada with the support of the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship, one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world. Gala has been the recipient of many academic and performance awards including the Federal Government of Nigerian Merit Scholarship, the University of Maiduguri Chancellor’s Award for the best graduating average, Western University Teaching Assistantship Excellence Award, Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Excellence Award, and The Learning Partnership Canada’s Outstanding Principals Award. As principal of C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute, Gala led pioneering work to tackle a major systemic learning barrier for students by de-streaming curriculum in grades 9 and 10. He then collaborated with community organizations and academia to share the amazing results of this work with Ontario Ministry of Education, academics and student teachers, staff in the TDSB and several other Ontario school boards, and community stakeholders. The success of this work has led the TDSB to mandate de-streaming by 2021-22 and the Ontario Ministry of Education to de-stream mathematics in Grade 9 beginning next school year. Gala is currently principal at Westview Centennial Secondary School where he continues to inspire students to learn to the best of their abilities.

Jason To
Jason To

Jason To is currently the coordinator of secondary mathematics and academic pathways for the Toronto District School Board, where he works with K-12 staff to tackle academic streaming and shift towards more equitable, inclusive and culturally responsive teaching. As a former high school math department head, he began challenging streaming in 2015 by eliminating applied math classes and teaching inclusive Grade 9 academic math, leading to significant gains for students identified with special education needs. To has presented at provincial math conferences and worked with school boards across Ontario with de-streaming, and was also part of the Ministry of Education writing team for the new de-streamed Grade 9 math curriculum. Finally, To is also a member of the steering committee for the Coalition for Alternatives to Streaming in Education.

Kaydeen Bankasingh
Kaydeen Bankasingh

Kaydeen Bankasingh is a mother, community organizer, facilitator and advocate in North York, who has successfully put her daughter through the public school system. She is advocating intensely for her son in the elementary public system. Bankasingh has led parent engagement initiatives for many years through school council, model schools initiatives and community partnerships. Supporting parents and families to support their children’s success at school is her priority. She is passionate about equity, anti-Black, anti-Indigenous racism in the school system and the impacts on all racialized children at having healthy learning experiences. She has been a community representative with CASE since 2020.

Sultan Rana
Sultan Rana

Sultan Rana has been an educator for 13 years, and would best describe himself as a person who is “under construction.” Working for the vast majority of his career in the elementary panel with the York Region District School Board, Rana has also taught in both the secondary classroom and on university campuses in Malaysia and the United States. Holding an MEd in digital technologies, Rana worked as a digital literacy consultant for YRDSB for a couple of years, and attempts to be a leader at integrating digital technologies both in his practice as a K-12 educator, and in his current position as a seconded instructor at York University’s Faculty of Education. Rana has written resources, conducted workshops, and supported educators (candidates and seasoned) on topics related to modern learning, CRRP, equity, inclusion, anti-racism, and Islamophobia for a number of schools, conferences, symposiums, and organization, both in-person and online for the past decade. In addition to moderating this session, Rana is also the co-chair of the York University Faculty of Education Summer Institute (FESI) series, with Sayema Chowdhury.

This event is free and those interested can register here.

Join York’s president for ‘The York U of the Future’ virtual conversation, April 30

PresidentConversationFutureFEATURED IMAGE
Featured image for the Conversation about the York U of the Future

Decorative image for the President's conversation about the York U of the futureOn Friday, April 30 at 12 p.m. ET, join York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton, York University Alumni Board Chair Francesca Accinelli (BFA ’92), York alumni and staff for The York U of the Future, a special virtual conversation about the opportunities, challenges and priorities for the University in 2021 and beyond.

In the face of unprecedented challenges created by COVID-19, York University has adapted, innovated and persevered, allowing the University to continue pursuing academic, research and professional excellence. York University remains a community of change leaders, who are using teaching, research, volunteerism, entrepreneurship and innovation to build more inclusive and resilient communities, both here at home and around the world.

Topics that will be covered at this event include how the University is working to expand York’s leadership in higher education, strengthen its impact on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and drive positive change in local and global communities.

A panel of guests will join Lenton to discuss how to build a better future for all Canadians through action on sustainability, social justice and global engagement. The event will also include a spoken word performance by Luke Reece (BA ’15), AMPD alumnus and recipient of York’s inaugural Top 30 Changemakers Under 30 list.

Panelists taking part in the event are:

  • Dean of the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design Sarah Bay-Cheng,
  • Joseph Smith (BA ’11, BEd ’12, MEd ’14), alumnus and consultant/facilitator at Morneau Shepell,
  • Hanaa Ameer, a fourth-year undergraduate student in the health management program.

Guests have the opportunity to ask questions in advance of and during the event. Questions can be submitted to alumni@yorku.ca before April 16.

Tickets are complimentary, but registration is required. A link to the virtual event will be provided to registered guests. Register through this link.

Learn about the ‘materiality of play’ during talk by emerging scholar

A talk that explores the materiality of play in the context of early childhood education will be presented by York University’s Faculty of Education on April 19 as part of its Disrupting Early Childhood Series.

“The Materiality of Play: Early Childhood Education Research in Diffractive Dialogue with Dance as an Artistic Practice” will run from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Zoom, and will feature guest speaker Tatiana Zakharova, an emerging scholar pursuing her doctorate at Western University (London, Canada).

A poster for the Disrupting Early Childhood SeriesInterest in play is experiencing a renaissance, with much been written in academic journals and discussed in professional and social media. Zakharova is among those interested in play, and with a background in design, she looks at materiality of play through the feminist practice of “misreading to produce a reading” (Jagodzinski, 1992, p. 172).

That is, instead of holding up play as an entity and an idea so solid that it even has a public “profile” that needs raising, Zakharova’s proposition is to tease play apart into moments that may be entirely insignificant or subject-forming, that may be joyous or violent, that may open possibilities or may be propping up chaos and indeterminacy.

This talk will be in dialogue with Justine Chambers who will engage with Zakharova’s propositions in diffractive ways from her perspective as a dancer, choreographer and mother. Zakharova will introduce her research on play and Chambers will introduce her artistic practice. Together they will present a dialogue as an invitation to reimagine our relations to play.

About Tatiana Zakharova
Zakharova is a playground designer, and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Faculty of Education at Western University (London, ON). In her multidisciplinary work, Zakharova thinks with feminist posthuman scholars to trouble the notion of play as a means of progress, imagining instead relationship-attuned play as worlding. With gratitude, Zakharova lives, walks, plays, and writes on the traditional territories of the Anishnabek, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), and Ojibway/Chippewa peoples.

About Justine Chambers
Chambers is a dance artist living and working on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the Skwxwú7mesh, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Her movement-based practice considers how choreography can be an empathic practice rooted in collaborative creation, close observation, and the body as a site of a cumulative embodied archive. Privileging what is felt over what is seen, she works with dances that are already there – the social choreographies present in the everyday. Chambers is Max Tyler-Hite’s mother.

Register in advance for this meeting at this link:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

April Scholars’ Hub @ Home events examine 15-year Faculty of Education-YRDSB collaboration, recognize Earth Day

April’s Scholars’ Hub @ Home Speaker Series events feature a conversation on a 15-year collaboration between York University’s Faculty of Education and the York District School Board that is exploring the relationship between families and their children’s schools, and a special Earth Day edition that will discuss an innovative ecological footprint accounting initiative at York.

The Scholars’ Hub @ Home speaker series, brought to you by York Alumni Engagement, features discussions on a broad range of topics, with engaging lectures from some of York’s best minds. Events are held in partnership with Vaughan Public Libraries, Markham Public Library and Aurora Public Library.

The next two discussions will take place on April 7 and 21 from 12 to 1 p.m. via Zoom.

April 7 – “The gathering model of community engagement: A research-driven approach to school decision-making”

This discussion will be led by York University’s John Ippolito, associate professor in the Faculty of Education. Joining him will be Sara Leung, equity teacher facilitator and Scott Milne, manager of School and Community Projects, from Inclusive School and Community Services at the York Region District School Board.

John Ippolito
John Ippolito

This presentation will examine an ongoing, 15-year collaboration between the York Region District School Board and the Faculty of Education at York, researching the relationships families – specifically marginalized families – have with their children’s schools.

Ippolito’s research in teacher education centers on public schools and their communities, focusing on education in contexts of linguistic and cultural hyperdiversity. His applied work involves adult education as outreach to caregivers and educators and is increasingly focused on migrants and refugees. He is accredited as a teacher of English as a Second Language, having taught in settlement programs for newcomers to Canada. His ongoing interventionist research targets barriers between minority communities and schools with a view to broadened relationships among stakeholders in public education.

Register for the presentation here.

April 21 – “How ecological footprint accounting can inform pathways to a carbon-neutral economy”

This special Earth Day edition of Scholars’ Hub @ Home is hosted in partnership with the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change and will feature two researchers from York University’s Ecological Footprint Initiative, Eric Miller and Katie Kish. The speakers will be introduced by Alice Hovorka, dean of the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change.

Eric Miller
Eric Miller

In this presentation, learn about the global ecological footprint and biocapacity accounts that are produced at York University in collaboration with researchers around the world. These accounts quantify the capacity of landscapes to sustain human consumption and infrastructure over time – information for the global community aiming for a carbon-neutral economy.

Katie Kish
Katie Kish

Miller is a research assistant at the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change and director of the Ecological Footprint Initiative. As director, he manages multiple projects and partnerships of the initiative including the production of the National Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts. He teaches the footprint-related courses, supports students and project staff, and supports the Footprint Data Foundation as its secretary-treasurer. His prior work as a consulting economist has informed governments, industry, think-tanks and NGOs.

Kish is a research associate at the Ecological Footprint Initiative, where she supports knowledge synthesis and mobilization of the team’s research. Her research focuses on complex systems, ecological economics, labour, work and production. She is also a lecturer of ecological economics at the Haida Gwaii Institute and Research Fellow with Economics for the Anthropocene.

Register for the event here.

Virtual colloquium explores racialized implications of COVID-19 in Toronto

Black female student working on a laptop

On April 7, the next session in York University’s “Reciprocal Learning in Times of Crisis” monthly virtual colloquium series will feature a panel of educational experts and activists who will discuss the racialized implications of COVID-19 in Toronto.

The next session, titled “Racialized Implications of COVID-19 in Toronto: An East African Perspective,” will take place at 10:30 a.m. EST/5:30 p.m. EAT via Zoom.

Head shots of four panellists participating in the colloquium
Kherto Ahmed (top left); Sam Tecle (top right); Ekram May (bottom left); and Tesfai Mengesha (bottom right)

The past year has presented unprecedented challenges to students and educators across the world. It has also provided new spaces of opportunity. This session will feature a panel of young people who are both activists and educational experts who work with Success Beyond Limits (SBL), which is a collaborative, youth-led, community-based movement in Toronto’s Jane-Finch community that provides youth with holistic supports to complete their education and facilitate their trajectories of success. Panelists will discuss their experiences navigating schooling, scholarship, and community work amidst COVID-19, which has disproportionately influenced racialized communities like Jane and Finch where SBL is located. Panelists will also reflect on new possibilities for justice and connection that have emerged in Toronto, among East African diasporic communities and beyond.

The panel will feature:

  • Kherto Ahmed, a fourth-year life sciences student at McMaster University, who founded McMaster’s first Black Students Association;
  • Sam Tecle, an assistant professor of Community Engaged Learning at New College, University of Toronto, whose work focuses on Black and Diaspora Studies, Urban Studies and Sociology of Education;
  • Ekram Maye, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at Westview Centennial Secondary School, who is a past SBL mentee and volunteer, and current SBL mentor; and
  • Tesfai Mengesha, executive director, Operations at SBL.

York University’s Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) Project, Faculty of Education, and Centre for Refugee Studies are partnering to present the “Reciprocal Learning in Times of Crisis” colloquium series that examines the intersections of refugee education, anti-Black racism, and COVID-19 in Canada and East Africa.

This colloquium is the first of its kind to feature experts from York University and from institutions that are comprised of or work with refugees in equal measure. Together, this series will: (1) deepen connections among refugee communities, educational leaders, and scholars within and across institutions; (2) foster a sense of reciprocity in learning; (3) recognize and validate the unique expertise that refugee communities bring to time- or resource-constrained situations; and (4) educate all attendees on a range of topics relevant to refugee education, COVID-19, and anti-Black racism.

York recognizes alumni in inaugural list of Top 30 Changemakers Under 30

Changemakers FEATURED

York University has released its first-ever list of Top 30 Changemakers Under 30, shining a spotlight on remarkable young alumni who are making a difference in their communities, the country and around the world.

decorative image that says To 30 changemakers under 30“York’s Top 30 Under 30 is a community of changemakers,” says Julie Lafford, executive director, Alumni Engagement. “Driven by passion, they create positive change and are outstanding representatives of the university, reflecting the high calibre of York alumni.”

York alumni take the education, skills and support they receive at York and develop a strong sense of purpose, a desire to create positive change, and a long-standing commitment to the public good. Those qualities are all evident in the young alumni selected.

“I am proud to know that my work with Fix the 6ix was recognized by York University,” says Deanna Lentini (BSc ’16), a physiotherapist and founder of Fix the 6ix, a thriving volunteer organization that gives back to the community and gives students opportunities to build their leadership skills. “It shows that little ideas with a lot of heart can do big things.”

Representing every Faculty at the University, these alumni are leaders working and volunteering in a variety of fields, from health and sustainability to the arts and business, and work to bring a uniquely global perspective to help solve societal challenges.

“To create positive change in the world, the action starts at the local level,” says Miranda Baksh (BES ’17, MES ’19), founder and CEO of the Community Climate Council (CCC), a not-for-profit organization advocating for local climate action through enhancing climate literacy and political advocacy. “Positive change can occur when a community feels empowered and increases climate literacy and political advocacy. I hope that through our work I can keep inspiring youth, especially from underrepresented and marginalized communities, to use their voices for positive change.”

For more information on the 2021 Top 30 Changemakers Under 30, visit the website.

The 2021 Top 30 Changemakers Under 30 are:

  • Ajith Thiyagalingam, BA ’15, JD ’18, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Alexandra Lutchman, BA ’14, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Aurangzeb Khandwala, BA ’18, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Bailey Francis, BA ’19, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Basia Pozin, BBA ’17, Schulich School of Business
  • Bo Cheng, BSC ’17, MMAI ’20, Science, Schulich School of Business
  • Christine Edith Ntouba Dikongué, BA ’14, Glendon
  • Dani Roche, BDES ’13, School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design
  • David (Xiaoyu) Wang, MSCM ’20, Schulich School of Business
  • David Marrello, BBA ’15, Schulich School of Business
  • Deanna Lentini, BSC ’16, Health
  • Eunice Kays, BA ’17, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Farzia Khan, BA ’17, Lassonde School of Engineering
  • Giancarlo Sessa, BBA ’19, Schulich School of Business
  • Iman Mohamed, BA ’14, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Isabella Akaliza, BA ’20, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Jillian Lynch, BA ’19, Health
  • Krystal Abotossaway, BHRM ’13, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Larissa Crawford, BA ’18, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Luke Reece, BA ’15, School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design
  • Maneesha Gupta, JD ’17, Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Matthew Ravida, BCOM ’18, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Mikhaela Gray Beerman, BA ’14, MED ’18, Glendon, Education
  • Miranda Baksh, BES ‘17, MES ’19, Environmental & Urban Change
  • Nicole Doray, IBA ’17, MES ’19, Glendon, Environmental & Urban Change
  • Prakash Amarasooriya, BSC ’15, Health
  • Rana Nasrazadani, BA ’20, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
  • Rowena Tam, BA ’17, School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design
  • Shant Joshi, BFA ’17, School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design
  • Shaquille Omari, BA ’15, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

IRDL visiting scholar Tracy Ying Zhang explores gender and film education at upcoming talk

Woman laptop computer FEATURED
Woman laptop computer FEATURED

On March 24, York University’s Institute for Research on Digital Literacies (IRDL) presents an engaging exploration of gender and film education by visiting faculty member Tracy Ying Zhang.

The talk, titled “’Only Homie on the Wall’: Participatory Photography as Feminist Spatial Storytelling” takes place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Zhang, who is a visiting scholar at York until September 2021, has been conducting research on issues of gender, race, inclusion and social justice in the global creative industries for the past 15 years. This discussion will focus on her Mitacs-funded research project on gender and university-based film production education, called “The making of a woman filmmaker: Gender and cultural production in a Montreal-based film school.”

IRDL Tracy Ying Zhang talk banner

The project had four main objectives: identify social-structural factors that influence women film production students’ learning experiences, career choices, and artistic approaches; understand how women students cultivate an artistic self and respond to challenges and opportunities in film school; develop connections between the film school and local progressive organizations for women content creators; and promote gender-sensitive education to increase women’s opportunities as key content creators.

“In Canada, the past five years saw increased efforts made by feminist advocacy organizations and arm’s length cultural agencies to address the underemployment issues of women directors, cinematographers, and screenwriters,” says Zhang. “However, little is known about how post-secondary institutions that teach filmmaking influence women graduates’ career choices and how film schools could be part of the pathway to gender equality in the Canadian screen industry.”

To explore these issues, she carried out fieldwork at Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, which included ethnographic observation, participatory photography, a focus group and interviews with key informants – educators, women students and alumnae. Between the winter of 2018 and summer of 2019, she collaborated with 10 women undergraduate students who were studying film production to co-produce a collection of digital photo stories, which appeared in a virtual exhibition called Women in Film Education (WIFE).

In this talk, Zhang will explain the context of this research and her rationale of choosing a participatory visual research method. By focusing on three vignettes that draw from participants’ photo stories as well as her encounters with other interlocutors in film school, she will examine several ethical and methodological issues in participatory visual research that emerged during the project.

Zhang will also talk about how this research can be mobilized as a form of feminist spatial storytelling to expose and challenge gendered and racial barriers in university settings. Specifically, she will look at three themes: researchers’ positionality and access; exposing white masculine spaces; and creating spaces of dialogue through collaborative and collective multimedia storytelling.

All members of the York community are welcome to attend this talk, which will be of particular interest to students and educators of film and media production, film and media studies, and fine arts.

Register for the event here.

York’s Centre for Feminist Research presents ‘Spotlight on Islamophobia’ series

Children in a classroom
Children in a classroom

The Centre for Feminist Research at York University has organized a new series of presentations focused on Islamophobia. The first event in the series, “Disrupting Islamophobia and Intersecting Oppressions in K-12 Schooling,” will take place on March 18, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and will be presented using the Zoom Webinar platform.

Preregistration is required and can be completed at https://yorku.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEkduCtrzgvG9KaNA1481rU0HzaIQH72Q9l. Interested participants are encouraged to register early for this event as there are a limited number of seats. The event will be recorded.

Despite a diversity of histories and lived realities, this webinar explores Muslim students’ and families’ experiences of Islamophobia and intersecting oppressions including anti-Black racism in K to 12 schooling contexts and beyond. Islamophobia and gendered Islamophobia manifest in the absence of policies and structures that acknowledge its existence or respond to its presence in Ontario classrooms. Transformative education has the possibility to disrupt and dismantle these harmful discourses and enactments in service of justice. Join us for a conversation with educators and community partners as they speak to possibilities for humanizing the diverse experiences of Muslim students in Ontario schools.

Panelists participating in the event are:

  • Omar Zia, school administrator, Peel District School Board;
  • Gilary Massa, human rights and outreach officer, Toronto District School Board;
  • Amira Elghawaby, journalist and human rights advocate;
  • Samiya Ahmed, parent and community activist.

The panel will be moderated by Faculty of Education Assistant Professor Vidya Shah and Course Director Sayema Chowdhury. Contributing to the development of the Centre for Feminist Research’s Spotlight on Islamophobia, are

  • Ena Dua, associate professor, Department of Equity Studies and School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS);
  • Zulfikar Hirji, associate professor, Department of Anthropology, LA&PS;
  • Vidya Shah, assistant professor, Faculty of Education;
  • Shirin Shahrokni, assistant professor, Department of Sociology, LA&PS;
  • Nadiya Ali, PhD candidate, Department of Sociology, LA&PS;
  • Sayema Chowdhury, course director, Faculty of Education.

The series is an attempt to further understand one of the most entrenched forms of racism. It focuses on key aspects of the social forces that shape and reinforce contemporary practices of Islamophobia. The Spotlight on Islamophobia event series aims at gaining a better understanding of the multiple forms of Islamophobia currently prevailing in multiple societies, grasping their historical origins in specific national contexts, and their intersections with other regimes of inequality and oppressive forces structuring contemporary human experiences.

Report outlines need for emergency planning to increase equity in access to education

online learning
online learning

One of the important lessons from the sudden shift to online learning for elementary and secondary students − at the beginning of the pandemic and again this January − is that emergency planning is needed to increase equity in access to education, says York University Professor Sarah Barrett.

Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett

It is almost one year since schools began to close in Ontario, with closures happening again in January of this year. Barrett, a professor in York’s Faculty of Education, surveyed 764 teachers in May and June of 2020, and did in-depth interviews with 50 of them. These interviews informed specific recommendations which are documented in a new report. 

A number of themes emerged in the teachers’ responses outlined in the report, titled “Emergency Distance Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Teachers’ Perspectives.” Many were concerned about the sudden disruption to relationships with students of all ages. Play-based learning for young children became next to impossible, they said. They also cited lack of student engagement, exacerbated in special education courses in particular when students learned their grades would not drop below where they were on March 13.

The following were key recommendations informed by the data from the report:

  • Emergency plans to ensure all students have equitable access to quality education should school buildings have to be shut down again.
  • Communication that is two-way and timely during a crisis between the Ministry of Education and school boards and teacher federations, between school boards and schools, and between schools and teachers. 
  • Flexibility as one size does not fit all student learning and teaching.
  • Professional development through coaching rather than courses.

Due to the suddenness of the change to online learning, some disruption was inevitable. However, the experiences with shutdowns this year have highlighted the need for emergency planning, so the logistics are in place to address the needs of vulnerable students, says Barrett.

Emergency planning will be especially important in ensuring equitable access to education for students with special needs, those living in poverty, racialized or Indigenous students, English-language learners and adult students, she said.

“We now have a very good idea of what students need when school buildings are shut down. Having emergency plans in place which reflect what we have learned would help school boards and teachers respond to them more quickly in any future lockdowns,” says Barrett.

Read the full report here.

March 10 virtual colloquium discusses impacts of COVID-19 for mobile populations across Africa

The next virtual colloquium in York University’s ‘Reciprocal Learning in Times of Crisis’ monthly series will feature a discussion from two international experts on the impacts of COVID-19 for mobile populations across Africa.

“COVID-19 and vulnerable migrants across Africa” takes place on March 10 at 9:30 a.m. EST/5:30 p.m. EAT via Zoom.

Mohammed Duale
Mohamed Duale

Moderated by York doctoral candidate Mohamed Duale, the event will feature Helidah Ogude and Tamuka Chekero from the World Bank, who will share their findings from a World Bank-led social analysis of the risks and impacts of COVID-19 for mobile populations across Africa.

Refiloe Ogude, a South African-Kenyan national, is a social development specialist at the World Bank. Her work focuses on the development dimensions of migration and forced displacement, social cohesion and violence prevention, and the political economy of reform. She holds a MSc in international relations from New York University and is a doctoral candidate in Public and Urban Policy at The New School.

Chekero a Zimbabwean national, is a PhD student in anthropology at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa and part of the Africa Fellowship Program of the World Bank, in the Social Development Global Practice. His doctoral research, based in Cape Town, interrogates mobility and conviviality among migrants from African countries. He holds an MSc in social anthropology from UCT, and a BSc honors degree in social anthropology from Great Zimbabwe University, Zimbabwe.

York University’s Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) Project, Faculty of Education, and Centre for Refugee Studies present the ‘Reciprocal Learning in Times of Crisis’ colloquium series, which examines the intersections of refugee education, anti-Black racism, and COVID-19 in Canada and East Africa.

This colloquium is the first of its kind to feature experts from York University and from institutions that are comprised of or work with refugees in equal measure. Together, this series will: (1) deepen connections among refugee communities, educational leaders, and scholars within and across institutions; (2) foster a sense of reciprocity in learning; (3) recognize and validate the unique expertise that refugee communities bring to time- or resource-constrained situations; and (4) educate all attendees on a range of topics relevant to refugee education, COVID-19, and anti-Black racism.