The award-winning California-based educational hip-hop program, Global Awareness through Hip Hop Culture, has been shut down, succumbing to the state’s plummeting economy.
After running successfully since 2006, the program came to a bitter end just recently. It was offered at a charter school in South Los Angeles, and was one of the only educational hip-hop programs in the nation offered as a regular class to middle and high school students.
The class was created by Sebastien Elkouby to address the educational crisis that affects about 50 percent of inner-city students across the U.S. It uses hip-hop to connect with students in a way other topics can’t.
“For a variety of reasons, many students feel completely disconnected from the traditional educational process,” Elkouby explains. “This class used hip-hop culture as a medium to develop global awareness and critical thinking while teaching them language arts, social studies, and life skills.”
The program has earned Elkouby the title of “Educator of Distinction” by the National Society of High School Scholars for the past two years. However, it wasn’t enough to save the program.
He feels the termination of his program is proof that the currently leadership in education is clueless to what students really need.
“You’d think that a program that has impacted students in such a positive way would be safe,” Elkouby said. “I do realize that the simple mention of the term ‘hip-hop’ scares people and may not be at the top of the list when it comes to funding. However, it doesn’t seem that students are too high on the list either.”
Former student A. Dominguez says, “Taking this class has made me realize how much I have changed as an individual and has given me the hope to pursue my wildest dreams. Everyone should be able to participate in such a life changing experience!”
Although the Global Awareness through Hip Hop Culture Program is currently on an indefinitely haitus, Elkouby is hopeful it will be resurrected.
“Many schools in Los Angeles are interested in offering the class to their students, but are in the same sinking boat as everyone else,” he said. “However, I’m not giving up. I might have to get funding from private donors, in the hip-hop community or otherwise, who understand the vision and actually care about the future of our youth.”