Educational institutions are meant to impart knowledge to individuals and enhance their personal and professional development. And a big part of students’ personal development includes building tolerance towards other students and discouraging unethical behavior like discrimination.
Contrary to their soul and purpose, an appalling number of discrimination cases occur in schools and colleges. The reports are alarming and unfathomable. Educational institutions should be the last place to report such issues.
Discrimination in education
Discrimination arises when education providers like schools, colleges, or other higher education institutions create barriers to a comfortable learning experience for individuals or groups. Such discrimination hinges on one or more aspects of a student’s personality, background, or life. Discrimination based on ‘who’ these people are is common and takes forms like bullying, alienating, etc. The consequences are dire and can have a long-term impact on the personal and professional lives of those that experience it.
For an apparent reason, it seems that educational institutions cooing the song of cultural diversity are falling short of their rhetoric. With the globalization of academics, institutions are highly motivated to enroll students from diverse backgrounds. It is because diversity has become one of the standards of gauging the quality of an institution.
But are these places, their management, teachers, and students really prepared to deal such students with care and equality? This is not a question that requires a rhetorical answer but needs some crucial steps as well.
For instance, the new environment of institutions requires teachers and staff to know about cultural diversity. They need to have the skills and qualifications to be aware of it. In such situations, hiring social workers with CSWE accredited MSW programs can be fruitful. These professionals can help stage interventions and develop strategies to reduce discrimination.
The CSWE Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards play an essential role in making the social work degree programs rich with content. Thus, go beyond mere appreciation of working against discriminatory practices and eliminate such practices from educational institutions.
Apart from the professional qualification, there are specific ways to reduce discrimination in educational institutes. Let’s take a look at them.
- Increase self-awareness about discrimination
An important aspect to understand is that it does not always happen at the hands of teachers and staff members. Many cases arise because other students do not recognize the beauty and significance of their differences. At this point, self-awareness plays an important role. Their understanding of how race, gender, color, religion, etc., shape the individuals enhance their acceptance of their fellows.
Our background, life experiences, living conditions, the experience of the world, and the like vitally shape our behavior and make us what we are. This realization among the students can exponentially reduce the cases of bullying in school.
- Hiring qualified teachers
Hiring the right staff can be instrumental in encouraging diversity and building more inclusive classrooms. These professionals’ understanding of an inclusive culture’s importance helps them deal with students’ diverse composition in the class. The ability to design activities that consider various backgrounds and cultures eliminates the chances of discrimination by fostering tolerance.
This will also allow students to thrive with their difference of race, color, religion, and background. It is essential to teach students that one’s origin or background is nothing to be ashamed of or a reason to be treated differently. Instead, a professional teacher can help students treat their differences as a source of mutual learning.
A qualified teacher can also work to eliminate discrimination germinates from within students. Incidents like bullying, alienation, etc., occur because students fail to accept the variances among themselves. This way, they can educate students about biases and discrimination because such incidents happen due to a lack of information.
- Professional training of teachers
Though educational degrees and qualifications are essential, you can never deny the importance of professional development training for teachers. Teachers are the frontline worker as they have the maximum contact with students with different backgrounds. While you hire qualified teachers, the school/college’s existing staff must be trained adequately to reduce pitfalls within the system.
Professional training opportunities geared towards educating them about various cultures enhance their acceptance of differences. These training opportunities should focus on acceptance of diversity, multiculturalism, and understanding culturally relevant cues.
- Lessons on race and conflict resolution
Sometimes behavioral and non-verbal cues are not enough to send a message. For teachers encouraging students to be inclusive of the differences and experiences of others might not be enough. This situation may call for explicit and detailed lectures about discrimination.
In the beginning, discussion about race and other complicated issues can be tricky and emotional. But proper planning and use of activities and materials can make it productive. Likewise, a conflicting situation calls for a prudent response from teachers. We have to stop these practices where a student of color is left alone to deal with a classmate’s racially offensive banter. Similarly, a religious student should never be cast aside for unique beliefs and associations. After all, these differences make the human race stand out among other creatures on this planet.
Emphasis on diversity and social inclusion prevail in our society. However, acceptance of these variances is not complemented with a proportional readiness. We see students struggling at the hands of teachers and other fellow students due to their different cultures, backgrounds, races, etc.
In this world of globalization, where distance learning is rapidly becoming the norm, there is no place for discrimination. Educational institutions, platforms, and professionals must address this social cancer in a proper systematic manner. From self-awareness to professional degrees to teachers’ training, various ways provide positive options to curb these issues in the education system.