‘Disturbing and serious’ racism in schools

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner and the School Trustees Association has described “disturbing and serious” complaints about racist behaviour in schools in a recent report. 

This included discrimination by teachers and abuse from other children, according to students interviewed by researchers for the study, Education matters to me: Key insights.

Educational Institute president Lynda Stuart said that teachers would be disappointed and upset to hear such allegations, a view shared by Post Primary Teachers Association president Jack Boyle and Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft.

“It was surprising to us, it’s disturbing, I’m sure most teachers would be horrified,” Mr Becroft said.

Mr Boyle said that many schools would not be surprised that the racism evident in wider society was also present in schools. Nevertheless, teachers were “ahead of the game” in addressing racism and avoiding bias against students.

Principals Federation president Whetu Cormick, too, believed that the report reflected the racism that permeated right throughout society

Ms Stuart said schools were trying to recognise children’s language, culture and identity, but not everyone was there yet.

According to Ms Stuart, the report showed that it was now time to change an education system “that has been very monocultural for years” into something that “matters for our kids”.

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Dinah Malaulau
Dinah Malaulau
6 years ago

I can’t believe the naivety of STA & the Children’s Commission. I am NZ born of Pakeha & Samoan parents. All through school there was racism by students. As an adult I also experienced racism including teaching at colleges in a very ethnically mixed city. I even applied for 11 Head of Maths positions in 2009 without getting one interview. Then I applied again for 4 Head of Maths positions which didn’t accept me. But this time I dropped my married name which is Samoan & used my Pakeha maiden name. Then I got contacted for interviews!! I was asked by a Maori parent to attend a BOT meeting at which her son was to appear. The meeting was so evidently racist – even a lawyer who attended agreed. The boy was expelled. The Ombudsman found the process was illegal & the school was told to reinstate the boy.
Racism isn’t just teachers, it’s also Principals/BOTs. It’s noticeable in the very very small number of non-Pakeha employed as DPs/APs and middle management positions. Some of us – Maori, Pasefika, and other ethnicities – live racism everyday & it’s been going on since schools began in this country. All racism in schools is “disturbing & serious” – not just recent times. More importantly, why hasn’t anything been done about it earlier? There’s been a big push for gender equity, but never for ethnic diverse equity.

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