Ethnic diversity in the classroom is vital for student learning. With pupils from different backgrounds and ethnicities, they can better learn through each other’s varying perspectives on certain topics. Moreover, this encourages open-mindedness and even empathy in such a way that they consider other people’s thoughts and feelings.
In addition, diversity at the faculty level can impact students. In our article ‘The Research Is In – A Diverse Faculty Makes A Difference’, we reported how diverse faculties can influence a student’s decision to stay in school. In fact, having just one Black teacher in an elementary school decreased dropouts by almost 40%. Due to the representation available, students can see themselves being successful like their teachers or more motivated to pursue a college education.
With the importance of ethnic diversity in schools established, let’s take a look at a few schools that we can learn from:
Bridge International Academies
Most people may think of Africa as monolithic due to misconceptions about it. Some falsely refer to it as a country rather than a continent, making others believe it only has one culture. However, it’s home to multiple tribes, ethnicities, and cultures.
As such, students come from different backgrounds despite having lived on the same continent. To support this, Bridge Kenya ensures that they source their teachers from the local communities in which their schools are located. This way, students can have role models that they can look up to and inspire them to do well in their education. Also, Bridge partners with local teacher training colleges to recruit their educators. This further makes their teachers the perfect role models, seeing as they are trained within the community they will teach.
The University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong branded itself as “Asia’s World City,” claiming that they are a place of global connectivity and diversity. This holds some truth to it, seeing as their Home Affairs Department reported approximately 8% of the population were ethnic minorities. The presence of these minorities led the country to make policy changes to improve inclusion.
One of the policies is the Race Discrimination Ordinance that outlaws discrimination and harassment. It’s applicable to many institutions including schools, as elaborated by the Equal Opportunities Commission. Aside from adhering to the law, they encourage schools to increase their inclusion efforts.
The University of Hong Kong has a policy against racial discrimination and harassment set in place to support its students. With this, no student is allowed to make racially discriminatory comments toward fellow students. It also applies to their own faculty, in such a way that no department can refuse a student of service based on their racial attributes.
East High School
The state of Alaska is reportedly becoming more diverse, with the city of Anchorage leading the way. Being the state’s largest city in terms of population, only half identify as White. This heavily supports the city’s claims of diversity, along with the fact that it is home to East High School, America’s most culturally diverse high school.
One way that it supports its students is by relaxing its policies on graduation wear. They’ve recently allowed graduates to wear items that express their cultural identity and heritage. Compared to past practices, students can now decorate their graduation cap, gown, and stole with culturally significant items without the approval of school administrators.
These efforts made by schools around the world increase inclusivity in education. Like them, you may find more ways to support ethnic diversity in your institution.