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ECRI General Policy Recommendation N10:
Combating racism and racial discrimination in and through school education

Adopted by ECRI on 15 December 2006

Recommendation n 10 - Download the document

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI):

Having regard to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

Having regard to the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;

Having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child;

Having Regard to the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education;

Having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights, in particular its Article 14 and Article 2 of its Protocol No.1;

Having regard to Protocol No.12 to the European Convention on Human Rights, which contains a general clause prohibiting discrimination;

Having regard to the European Social Charter (Revised) and in particular Article 17 thereof;

Having regard to the Additional Protocol to the Convention on cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems;

Having regard to Committee of Ministers Recommendation (2000)4 to member States on the education of Roma/Gypsy children in Europe;

Having regard to Committee of Ministers Recommendation (2001)15 to member States on history teaching in twenty-first century Europe;

Having regard to Committee of Ministers Recommendation (2002)12 to member States on education for democratic citizenship;

Having regard to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1093(1989) on the education of migrants’ children;

Having regard to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1346(1997) on human rights education;

Having regard to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1720(2005) on education and religion;

Taking into account the general conclusions adopted by the European Conference against Racism on 13 October 2000, in particular those concerning education and awareness-raising to combat racism, related discrimination and extremism at sub-national, national, regional and international levels;

Taking into account the Commentary on Education under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities adopted by the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention;

Recalling ECRI General Policy Recommendation No.3 on combating racism and intolerance against Roma/Gypsies; ECRI General Policy Recommendation No.5 on combating intolerance and discrimination against Muslims; ECRI General Policy Recommendation No.9 on the fight against antisemitism;

Recalling ECRI General Policy Recommendation No.7 on national legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination;

Recalling that ECRI’s mandate is to combat racism and racial discrimination, that is to combat violence, discrimination and prejudice faced by persons or groups of persons on grounds such as race, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin;

Stressing that the scope of this Recommendation is limited to pre-primary, primary and secondary education;

Aware however that in higher education combating racism and racial discrimination is equally important;

Aware also that informal and non formal education can play a significant role in this field;

Aware that civil society organisations are implementing effective anti-discrimination education and diversity training programmes for youth within the school environment;

Recalling that education is an important tool for combating racism and intolerance, and yet aware that it is also an area in which racism and racial discrimination can exist, with harmful consequences for children and society as a whole;

Rejecting all forms of direct and indirect discrimination in access to schooling;

Recalling that national legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination should cover, among others, the field of education and that the prohibition of discrimination should apply to all public authorities as well as to all natural or legal persons, both in the public and in the private sectors;

Recalling that school education is a right and that access to it should be granted to all children present on the territory of member States, regardless of their legal status or that of their parents, and independently of the laws on asylum, immigration and acquisition of citizenship;

Convinced that quality education includes also diversity;

Convinced that schools must recognise and respect diversity;

Deploring the existence, sometimes, of de facto segregation in school education which is due to historical factors or to external factors such as the housing problem;

Stressing that measures to ensure the integration of children from minority groups in the school system must not in fact lead to forcible assimilation;

Emphasising that special measures can improve the access of children from minority groups to school education and to good teaching;

Recalling that human rights education based on the principles of equality, non-discrimination, tolerance and respect for diversity can play a key role in combating racism and intolerance in general;

Convinced of the need to ensure that all schools conform to satisfactory standards in respect of teaching in these areas;

Recalling the importance of ensuring that school textbooks and other teaching aids not spread prejudice and stereotypes;

Aware of the growing importance of modern technology, including the Internet, in school education and the need for this to be taken into account for questions relating to the fight against racism and racial discrimination;

Convinced of the need for mandatory training on teaching in a multicultural context to be given to all educational staff;

Convinced of the importance of initial and on-going training for educational staff in matters pertaining to human rights and combating racial discrimination;

Urging that all school authorities be placed under an obligation to promote equality and that progress on compliance with this obligation be properly monitored;

Recommends that the governments of member States:

1. Ensure compulsory, free and quality education for all, and to this end:

1. undertake, in conjunction with civil society organisations, studies on the situation of children from minority groups in the school system, by compiling statistics on their: attendance and completion rates; drop-out rates; results achieved and progress made;

2. gather the information required to identify problems facing pupils from minority groups in the school environment in order to introduce policies to solve these problems;

3. conceive, at national and regional level, in co-operation with the minority groups concerned, policies to further attendance and full participation of pupils from minority groups, on an equal footing, in the school system:

II. Combat racism and racial discrimination at school, and to this end:

1. ensure that schools are obliged to incorporate the fight against racism and racial discrimination as well as respect for diversity into the way that they are run:

2. ensure that school education plays a key-role in the fight against racism and racial discrimination in society:

III. Train the entire teaching staff to work in a multicultural environment, and to this end:

1. provide them, at all levels, with initial and on-going training to prepare them to educate and respond to the needs of pupils from different backgrounds;

2. provide them with initial and on-going training designed to foster awareness of issues pertaining to racism and racial discrimination and of the harmful consequences these have on the ability of children who are victims of these phenomena to succeed at school;

3. ensure that they receive training on anti-discrimination legislation at national level;

4. ensure that they are trained to prevent at school any manifestations of racism and racial discrimination, including indirect and structural discrimination, and to react promptly and effectively when faced with such problems;

5. provide them with initial and on-going training in issues relating to human rights and racial discrimination, which covers, inter alia, the following:

6. provide a framework in which the members of the teaching profession can regularly share experiences and update methods used for teaching human rights, including the right to equality;

IV. Ensure that all the policies advocated above receive the necessary financial resources and that they are regularly monitored to assess their impact and adjust them when necessary.