Expert Article

Promoting a sense of belonging through Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

  • 18 May 2022

We can promote a sense of belonging  among the people in a school community through our unified action to combat inequality and prejudice. Ensuring that all the stakeholders are treated equally, regardless of social, economical, and cultural backgrounds, leads to collective well-being. This kind of culture also prepares individuals to be future-ready global citizens who can positively impact the world.

EDI is imperative in schools 

E.D.I, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion makes it imperative to demonstrate respect as it aligns within our multicultural society to foster its spirit. With adverse culture in our country and globalization we find an increasing number of students and staff community from different regional and linguistic backgrounds who may be foreign to the notions of the region in which they currently reside. It has become increasingly evident that these members from varying backgrounds may feel disconnected from their immediate surroundings. What is to be understood is that this struggle is not unique and plagues almost every student and a staff member from a different location than the one they currently dwell in. 

At schools, EDI should be the core element of teaching and learning

  • All students have the right to express themselves in their home and family language to connect with their cultural identity and history.
  • Students stay connected with their cultural identity by using home and family language in school.
  • This will assist them in creating a multicultural environment by developing their language skills.
  • Creating a  safe working environment for all stakeholders.
  • We can celebrate differences by recognizing ‘Pride at work’.
  • Cultural diversity in the classroom” and “Embracing diversity” can be taught through sessions like ‘Upholding Diversity’.
  • Adopting a multilingual approach to learning can be recognized on International Language Day to ensure that languages in our classrooms are diverse, equal, and inclusive.
  • Promote dignity and respect for all where individual differences and all colleagues’ and students’ contributions are recognized and valued.

How school supports linguistic Diversity by maintaining a sense of belonging  and connecting with our roots

At many schools English is used as the primary medium of instruction and communication, however, the schools must have preferred languages, ranging from Telugu to Hindi to Spanish-Korean, this introduces the stakeholders to different linguistic backgrounds. Accommodating linguistic diversity is basically to create an environment that acknowledges and integrates multiple languages into its educational model, as language is a crucial component in shaping an individual and global identity. Strong language abilities are necessary for the entire school community to build their personal, cognitive, social, and cultural identities and connect the individual with the global world. 

The school community  supporting multiculturalism while respecting the mother language of the Individual instills the sense of belonging among the students and staff. This can be done by organizing talks on being an ally to people of different cultures. Often, in pursuing knowledge in vogue, such as accepting and exploring a foreign language, we may lose our grip on the language we initially learned. Therefore, we should make it essential  to have conversations and become proficient in it by giving students an opportunity to learn their language as a third language subject in the curriculum.

Many educational approaches, such as diversity, cannot co-exist with misinformation and prejudice. Hence, there is a greater focus on recognizing diversity-oriented education in the classrooms. We see students learning about the cultures around the world, the food they eat, and the languages they speak. They must be encouraged to include these components in their learning process, such as with Open Houses, where students are fostered to research and present topics related to culture, tradition, and language on their own.

This is just few initiatives that can be taken  to help us build the momentum in promoting Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in the organization. It will not be wrong to mention here that, “Starter steps and quick wins.”

Becoming a diverse and inclusive organization may be a long journey, and there’s no band-aid or ‘magic bullet.’ However, every journey begins with the primary step.

Hence, promoting attributes such as equality, diversity, and inclusivity is key to facilitating individual and collective learning experiences which can be achieved  with the support of the E.D.I.

Ambika Kapur

Teacher-Librarian

EDI (Equality Diversity Inclusion) Champion

 

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