When organizers of the first Afrocentric university in Latin America this fall sought an American consultant on faculty and curricular development, the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars found just the person to advise them: Oswego’s Dr. Alfred Frederick.
The professor of curriculum and instruction will spend 15 days at Zumbi dos Palmares University in Sao Paulo, Brazil, later this year as a Fulbright senior specialist in education. He will consult with teaching and administrative staff on developing curricula and remediation services for the largely Afro-Brazilian student body and advise them on how to deal with diversity issues in the classroom.
The opportunity marks the fifth time that Frederick has received a grant from the Fulbright Scholar Program, which is administered by the CIES, and his second overseas assignment as a Fulbright senior specialist.
He has previously served both in Benin in Africa and in Brazil, where he also taught for several years. His book, “Curriculum and the Socio-cultural Context,” was first published in Brazil in Portuguese.
Zumbi dos Palmares University is named for a 17th century leader of a colony of escaped slaves in Brazil. In a nation whose population is 44 percent of African origin, Zumbi is a national hero, and the day of his death, Nov. 20, is celebrated as Afro-Brazilian day.
Frederick said that Brazil has had a reputation as a “racial paradise,” but that now the country is recognizing a need for affirmative action. “Discrimination and racism do exist in Brazil,” he said. “It’s not just socioeconomic. It’s skin color and ethnicity. You have a lot of children who are not in school. The high rate of dropout and failure is among that African population.”
Tania Ramalho, Frederick’s colleague in the curriculum and instruction department and a native of Brazil, explained that while Brazil has more citizens of African descent than any country outside of Africa and that all Brazilians are officially considered equal, opportunities for Afro-Brazilians in higher education have been scant.
Now “it’s the right political moment,” she said, and Brazil is addressing inequities in various ways. The new university is one of them. “It’s a big historical event,” she said.
Frederick expressed some qualms about helping to establish a separate university devoted to educating black students and teaching Afro-Brazilian culture and accomplishments. “I questioned what would be the difference between this university and other universities in Brazil,” he said.
But he said he realized that “getting into a university in Brazil is very difficult for anyone.” Most university students are the beneficiaries of costly preparatory programs that help them do well on the entrance exam. He said he saw the new university as “an opportunity for a significant part of the Brazilian people to have an education.”
Frederick said he planned to visit Howard University, a leading historically black university in Washington, D.C., to glean strategies for success.
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PHOTO CAPTION: Fulbright plans——Dr. Alfred Frederick, a professor of curriculum and instruction at Oswego, talks about his upcoming trip to Brazil with students, including Lisa Fahy, a senior secondary education major.
(Posted: Nov 02, 2005)