Considering the data we just mention, a very serious question is to find ways and policies capable of tackling discrimination and fighting social exclusion
. This is clearly a complex issue, but everybody can play a role and make a difference. The best approach to tackle discriminating situations is the implementation of policies and actions that target both sides of the wall, meaning those who discriminate and those who are discriminated against. Policies may address several areas such as work, social services and education, among others. Some of these areas are particularly relevant, due to the fact that persons with different backgrounds meet and share experiences.
Being together at school, at the university or at work gives individuals the opportunity to face prejudices and stereotypes, verifying them and dismantling the wall.
This is particularly true in education environments that allow people to meet and exchange experiences. The data we have just referred to above demonstrate in fact that the level of education of the interviewed persons in Europe has a strong impact on their level of prejudices against migrants and refugees. Therefore it is important that schools and universities
are at the forefront of actions against prejudices and discrimination
. In particular, high level education fosters originality and innovation, which are the opposite of conformism and look at difference as a positive value.
However, several regions of the world perpetrate an instrumental approach to education that aims at empowering specific cultures at the expense of others, or view education just as a tool to increase employability.
Democratic societies are not immune from this situation because they are still evolving from aged approaches to education due to cultural heritages. Besides, specific conditions (i.e., economic difficulties, political disputes, international crisis, among others) instil social fear that usually vents against a scapegoat, because it is easier than facing real responsibilities, thus increasing cultural gaps. Only quality and inclusive education based on the value of difference can reduce prejudices and stereotypes and promote the value of difference and unicity, as UN reports
This is why many international organizations such as the European Union, the Council of Europe, UNESCO and UNICEF, Geneva Office For Human Rights Education
, among others, have created specific programs devoted to the fight against discrimination.
- Here some tips about what you could do in your education environment:
a) Learn the art of being yourself
(as Caroline McHugh suggests)
b) Think about how much you have in common with people.
c) Go out of your way to welcome and include someone new.
d) Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is discriminated against, and develop empathy
e) Stand up if you know of discriminating behaviours.
f) talk to your child about racism