Policymakers across Europe have wrestled for many years with the question of whether and how schools discriminate or disadvantage certain ethnic groups, and how to mitigate this.
The question has been brought into sharper focus by the Black Lives Matter protests and the effects of the COVID–19, which has forced learning away from the classroom to online.
This special report looks at the discrimination and disadvantage that exists in Europe’s schools and wider education systems, and what policy initiatives are likely to take root in the coming years.
Twenty years ago this week, the EU adopted its landmark Racial Equality Directive aimed at prohibiting discrimination based on race or ethnic origin. Yet critics of the directive say that it lacks teeth, with little pressure on national authorities to enforce and police its implementation, and no requirement for national action plans.
Increasing the number of Roma children in early childhood education by at least half, is at the heart of a ten year plan on Roma equality, inclusion and participation across the EU, announced by the European Commission in March.
The question of whether the UK’s education systems discriminate against ethnic minorities has become highly politically charged and divisive, reflecting tensions that exist across much of the European Union.
EU leaders agreed at a 2009 summit that they were committed to “attracting and retaining the best teachers in underperforming schools, strengthen leadership, increase the number of teachers with a migrant background”. But little progress appears to have been made.
The difficulties facing refugee children in accessing education across the EU have been accentuated by the COVID–19 pandemic, according to new data, which painted a bleak picture of poor attendance and high drop-out rates.