Effectively addressing discrimination in educational settings requires a comprehensive whole school and community-based approach with legal, policy and funding dimensions.
Awareness-raising is key in educating students, teachers, parents, caregivers and the wider community about the dynamics and consequences of discrimination as well as the benefits of inclusion and available solutions. It is also important that these efforts include raising awareness about rights and solutions within the communities vulnerable to discrimination.
Minority students and teachers are often the target of hate speech in the classroom and beyond (for example in the media). Multi-level strategies to address this could involve the integration of global citizenship education, including human rights education, media/information literacy and digital citizenship education within national teaching and learning curricula.
Incidents involving discrimination in school are under-reported. Equality bodies, hotlines and campaigns can play a role here. Some countries have made it easier to file reports about discrimination and racism by moving the process online. This can lead to an increase in reporting.
Policies and practices should reflect the appropriate balance between wider policies/practices that address different grounds of discrimination holistically (‘diversity policies/practices’) and policies/practices that tackle individual grounds to remain responsive to commonalities/specificities and ensure that all grounds of discrimination are adequately addressed.
Teacher training can play a crucial role in preparing teachers and educators to teach in diverse classrooms (pre-service, in-service and training). This includes developing competences such as differentiated instruction and intercultural education to empower teachers with the skillset to select and modify methods that will best meet the needs of diverse groups of students. Relevant training for school leaders is also important to support the development and implementation of coherent school-level strategies.
Teachers also need to be empowered with the agency and competences to critically evaluate the representation of diversity in teaching materials; and to systematically reflect on the impact of their own practice.
At practitioner level, promoting active school or teacher networks to tackle discrimination and share strategies on how to effectively address incidents can provide valuable mutual learning and support.
Promoting cooperation among students, for instance through international projects, can support student agency and participation in fostering more diverse and socially equitable learning environments.
Tackling prejudice and discrimination has been a key focus of the European Commission’s Working Group on Equality and Values in education and training. The working group members brings together
- government officials appointed by EU countries and other participating countries
- representatives from EU-level stakeholder organisations, social partners and international organisations
- EU bodies, offices, and agencies
Working Group products reflect only the views of the authors and should not be considered as representative of the European Commission’s official position.