Teachers, students and parents across the province will receive more resources to help root out racism in classrooms, a new program promises.
The province anounced the Anti-Racism Action Plan Monday (Jan. 23), which the government says sets out to support school districts in building a “more inclusive and equitable learning environments” to help students succeed.
Education Minister Rachna Singh said the plan is a critical step forward to create school communities that feel welcoming and supportive for people of all backgrounds.
Fourteen per cent of racialized students who completed the 2018 BC Adolescent Health Survey said they suffered discrimination because of race, ethnicity or skin colour. B.C. youth who experienced racism also reported poorer well-being and health, including extreme stress and despair, self-harming and seriously considering or attempting suicide.
The findings of the survey is noted to likely be an under-reported reality of the problem. According to a 2021 online survey, 58 per cent said they have seen other students insulted, bullied or excluded because of their race or ethnicity.
A dollar figure for the new program was not noted in the announcement.
All schools district and independent schools are required to have codes of conduct and policies to address racism and discrimination. The ministry will also make new training available to help staff better understand their role in creating anti-racist school environments and help students and staff spot biases and deal with acts of racism and discrimination. Students and their families now also have access to more anti-racism resources on the erase website with erase standing for expect respect & a safe education.
First Nations Education Steering Committee president Tyrone McNeil said racism continues to be the “most significant barrier” impacting First Nations students, pointing to the 2015 report from the provincial auditor general looking into the experiences of Aboriginal students in the public system.
BC School Trustees Association president Carolyn Broady also praised the announcement, calling the plan a “meaningful step” in addressing structural racism in schools.