The NSW Department of Education and Communities rejects all forms of racism and is committed to the elimination of racial discrimination.
What is Racism?
The Human Rights Commission defines racism as:
A belief that a particular race or ethnicity is inferior or superior to others. Racism is any act that involves a person being treated unfairly or vilified because of their race or ethnicity. Racist behaviour is any behaviour that is done as a result of or in pursuit of that belief.
Racist attitudes and beliefs are misconceptions about people based on perceived racial lines and are often founded on the fear of difference, including differences in customs, values, religion, physical appearance and ways of living and viewing the world. This includes negative attitudes towards the use of different languages, ‘foreign' accents or the use of non-standard variations of a dominant community language.
These attitudes and beliefs find expression in racist behaviours, both in the actions of individuals and in the policies and entrenched practices of institutions. Where these behaviours involve unequal power relationships between individuals or groups from different cultural backgrounds, racist actions on the part of members of the dominant culture have the effect of marginalising those from minority groups.
Effects of racism in schools
Racism in schools has damaging effects both on individuals and the learning and working environment.
Racism can adversely affect:
• Educational outcomes
• Individual happiness and self-confidence
• School climate
• Cultural identity
• School and community relations
• Student behaviour
Racism can generate tensions within school communities which distort cultural understanding and narrow the educational experience of all students.
Racism can undermine students' self-confidence and can result in students exhibiting a range of negative behaviours.
Students who have been subject to racism are frequently unable to concentrate in class and may be unwilling to participate or take risks in learning for fear of retribution or ridicule if they make a mistake.
Students who are disaffected with the school are less likely to attend school regularly and are likely to drop out of school earlier than other groups of students.
Racism has been linked to diminished morale, lower productivity and an increase in the incidence of stress and absenteeism. Together, the lower participation rates, behavioural problems and feelings of alienation that result from the presence of racism in schools impact on educational outcomes.
Education depends on the regular sustained attendance of each student and their ability to participate effectively in the classroom. In a racist learning environment, this balance is disrupted and educational outcomes are limited as a result. Educational outcomes for individual students and student groups who are subject to racism may include lower levels of educational achievement and lower rates of participation in post-school education and training.