4 Staggering Facts about Discrimination in Education, Can you be discriminated against for education?

Gender Equality in Education

4 Staggering Facts about Discrimination in Education, Can you be discriminated against for education?

Talking about discrimination in education, have you ever been treated unfairly at school? By others students? The school’s staffs? Or oven one of the teachers? That must be so awful. However, you might not the only one experienced this. In fact, there are a lot of pupils put in a disadvantage just because who they are!

Different students are discriminated against in various way. Some of them are being attacked on what race they belong to, their skin color, or their religion views. While, the rest are distinguished for what they look, how they act, who they want to be, and several others reasons. Due to act of biased, the majority define how the others should be treated. It like a bunch of students telling a new kid that if you are “different”, then you are “weird”. It seems trivial, but that phrase clearly describes there is a separation happened! Even though it becomes less powerful the discrimination is still there, taking place in every educational system.

What’s education discrimination?

Discrimination in education occurs when there are unjustifiable acts given to individuals or group who fall into certain categories in possessing their full rights to acquire knowledge. Typically, the discriminatory actions or inaction are committed by others students. But, in many cases, it is also involving the education providers like schools, universities, colleges, and teachers. Examples include all the disparate treatments in which marginalized students are sidelined compared to their non-minority peers regarding to suspensions, penalties, bias in school assessment ad policies, exclusions in access to facilities and services and any others detriments.

Then, the question for all of us is why students suffer from a lack of justice, when educational environment should be a safer place for them. Even more surprising is the fact that the common reasons why people are treated differently is because of so-called fundamental human rights as mentioned bellow:

1. Undermining gender equity

A girl is writing in front of the class
A girl is writing in front of the class

Did you know that Worldwide, 129 million girls drop out of school! Quoted from UNICEF.org across the countries, 129 million girls are out of school including: 32 million of primary school, 30 million of lower-secondary school, and 67 million of upper-secondary school. Moreover, in conflict-affected countries, girls are twice as likely to drop out of school as girls living in unaffected countries. The reasons are many, but mainly gender prejudice. From the moment they were born, girls are supposed to face unequal gender stereotypes regarding to the society’s opportunities and expectations.

Patriarchal culture, often favoring boys when investing in education. Boys are encouraged to work and get high positions so it is important for them to get an education. While, girls are expected to be good housewives, they carry heavy household responsibilities from an early age that keep them away from school. Unfortunately, even girls who are able to go to school still resist much more barriers. In some places, school does not meet the equal safety for girls. Girls are particularly at risk for gender-based violence at school such as physical or sexual violence, abuse, and bullying.

2. Racial inequality

When you are a student, part of a majority group in your country and moreover if your country is relatively homogeneous, race will not be the main identity maker affecting education at all. But, how about the International students? Or those who are part of minority group? Of course, this is a serious matters! Inequalities and discrimination based on race and ethnicity has been serious,deeply rooted dilemma throughout history. For decades, minority students have lagged behind their peers in many aspects, mostly academic achievement.

According to Pew Research Center survey, the majority of black adults in America had undergone racial discrimination, but this is varied by education. About 81% with college experience said they had experienced this, at least from time to time, including 17% who said this happened regularly. Among blacks with a high school education or less, the percentages fell to 69% and 9%, respectively.

This can take many forms. One example is that black students were punished more severely and often than their white counterparts for the same offence. Also, they tend to receive academic grades that are lower or even far below white students because of teachers’ racial bias.

3. Ruling out students with disabilities

Students are listening to their teacher in class
Students are listening to their teacher in class

Can school discriminate against disable students without realizing it? The answer is yes. Sadly, a student with disabilities might endure from direct or indirect disadvantages at school!

Direct separation arises when students are getting less favorable treatment because of their disabilities. For example, a child who uses a wheelchair is being excluded from physical class because it is believed that he won’t be able to do the physical activities or deaf students are not allowed to take music extracurricular as they can’t hear.

While, the indirect actions happened when the school policy is applied the same way for everyone without exception. To give an instance, if the school has a policy that students must not break the rules more than three times otherwise they will be suspended. But, disabled pupils might break it unnoticed because of their needs. This of course leads to the indirect injustice performed by education providers.

4. Discrimination because of religion and belief

Schoolchildren with different religious backgrounds
Schoolchildren with different religious backgrounds

Many students face harsher actions for various reasons including race, gender, ethnicity. However, there is one area that tends to get less attention, a religious equity. This may be silly, but have you heard of a child not being accepted into school because he or she doesn’t belong to a certain religion?

Speak on religious discrimination, many students are being targeted of bullying because of the use for religious symbols related to the beliefs or views. For instance, the accident of a Muslim girl who was forced to take off her hijab by another student. Or maybe there is a school curriculum that carries out collective worship of a particular religion and requires all students to participate even if they do not adhere to that religion.

Why it matters?

Then, why is it important to eliminate all discrimination and ensure every child gets a quality education?

“A quality education has the power to transform societies in a single generation; provide children with protection they need from the hazards of poverty, labor exploitation and disease; and give them the knowledge, skills and confidence to reach their full potential.” – Audrey Hepburn

The access to quality education is every children’s right. It is the most important key, the most essential pillar, and the hearth of change in better humanity and development. Quality education will break the vicious circle inequality and provides a basis for equity. In line with this, The United Nations has set Sustainable Development Goal 4.


SDG 4: Quality Education, Photo by globalgoals.org
SDG 4: Quality Education, Photo by globalgoals.org

The mission statement of this campaign is “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Furthermore, It has 7 targets of which 4.5 are “By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous people and children in vulnerable situations.” After all, learning knows no boundaries because it is called education, not discrimination.

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