What do we mean by race equality and anti-racist education?

Two inter-connected concepts related to race equality education have been highlighted by Rowena Arshad (see model below). One concept considers race equality as an outcome measure assessing whether gaps related to attainment and achievement have been reduced or eliminated. The second concept refers to a moral imperative to educate all learners so that they do not discriminate on the basis of race.

This image depicts the two interlocking circles of race equality education. One circle reads 'an outcomes measure' while the other circle reads 'a moral value'More recently the term ‘anti-racist education’ is used to describe learning that works proactively to prevent and challenge racism that exists within our society.

Race equality education therefore needs to support an educational experience where every child and young person flourishes and succeeds, in an environment which actively promotes equality and tackles racism.

Why are race equality and anti-racist education necessary?

  • It empowers learners to develop an understanding of their own values, beliefs and cultures and those of others.
  • Anti-racist education helps children to understand and realise their own rights and the rights of others within the school, within the community and globally (Save the Children ‘A summary of the UNCRC’).
  • Anti-racist education helps learners to understand the harmful consequences of racism and to actively challenge it wherever it occurs.
  • It helps to ensure that the learning environment is safe and inclusive, without racial inequality or racism (Scottish Government (2016), ‘Race Equality Framework for Scotland 2016-30’).
  • It nurtures a historical literacy in learners which helps them to understand all of Scotland’s history, including our historical role in empire, colonialism and transatlantic slavery, and the diversity of Scottish society in the past. It helps learners understand how Scotland’s colonial past plays a role in their current everyday lives, acknowledging the successes and impact of Minority Ethnic historical figures, in relation to Scottish and global history. (The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination report (2016) to the UK and Northern Ireland)
  • Race equality education provides a vehicle for all practitioners to demonstrate their professional values (see page on Professional Standards).
  • The Equality Act (2010) gives the duty to schools and local authorities to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation of learners with protected characteristics, including race, and to advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not and to foster good relations between them.

Race equality and anti-racism considerations in education are essential in all settings across Scotland, regardless of geographical location.