Little multicultural education in mostly white schools


A team of researchers from UGent and UvA have determined that little attention is paid to the teaching of multiculturalism in schools with few students of foreign origin

Lessons mainly Eurocentric

Although attention to multiculturalism is an obligatory part of education in Belgium and the Netherlands, it is mostly taught in schools with many students of foreign origin. That is the principal conclusion of a research project by Ghent University (UGent) and the University of Amsterdam (UvA), for which more than 700 teachers participated.

“It may seem logical that there is more attention to multiculturalism in more multi-national schools, but it isn’t,” said Orhan Agirdag of the UvA. “Students with no foreign background also need sufficient knowledge about a multicultural society and racism – maybe even more than their counterparts of foreign origin.”

The research also demonstrates that teachers mostly focus on religious diversity. “They mostly explain about Islam and activities of Muslims during, for example, the Feast of the Sacrifice or the Sugar Feast,” said Mieke Van Houtte of UGent. “Other important elements of a multicultural society, like multilingualism, receive less attention.”

The researchers also ascertained that multiculturalism is only remotely present in the curriculum. “Publishers of school books have sometimes replaced typical names like Jan and Leen by Rashid and Ahmet,” says Michael Merry of the UvA, “but the lessons are still mainly Eurocentric, and the staff is, for the most part, white.”

There is a big difference, however, among cities, according to the study. Teachers in schools in Ghent and Genk, for instance, devote more attention to multiculturalism than do schools in Antwerp. According to the researchers, this situation can be linked to the political background of these cities.

The researchers suggest that mostly-white schools search for teachers and interns of foreign origin. They also feel that teacher study programmes could integrate multicultural education structurally in their curriculum.

Photo courtesy Het Belang van Limburg

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Ricardo BaretzkyDear Sir's I read your article with great enthusiasm however i wish to know what does she word White in this article imply ? "Little multicultural education in mostly white schools" I bring your attention to: In Belgium, crimes against honour are foreseen in Chapter V of the Belgian Penal Code, Articles 443 to 453-bis. Someone is guilty of calumny « when law admits proof of the alleged fact » and of defamation "when law does not admit this evidence" (Article 443). The penalty is 8 days to one year of imprisonment, plus a fine (Article 444). In addition, the crime of "calumnious denunciation" (Article 445) is punished with 15 days to six months in prison, plus a fine. In any of the crimes covered by Chapter V of the Penal Code, the minimum penalty may be doubled (Article 453-bis) « when one of the motivations of the crime is hatred, contempt or hostility of a person due to his or her intended race, color of the skin, ancestry, national origin or ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, place of birth, age, patrimony, philosophical or religious belief, present or future health condition, disability, native language, political beliefs, physical or genetical characteristic, or social origin." This in conclusion we the public would like to know what the word "White" Imply ? Best regards Ricardo Baretzky President of ECIPS
Lisa BradshawWhite is the word used by the researchers for schools with student populations that are made up of Belgians not from other ethnic backgrounds. Essentially, they are Indo-European.
Iftikhar AhmadBritish education system is in a mess. It is not suitable for migrant communities, especially Muslim children. Bilingual Muslims children have a right, as much as any other faith group, to be taught their culture, languages and faith alongside a mainstream curriculum. More faith schools will be opened under sweeping reforms of the education system in England. There is a dire need for the growth of state funded Muslim schools to meet the growing needs and demands of the Muslim parents and children. Now the time has come that parents and community should take over the running of their local schools. Parent-run schools will give the diversity, the choice and the competition that the wealthy have in the private sector. It is a crime against humanity to send children to non-Muslim schools with non-Muslim teachers. Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. Indiscipline, incivility, binge drinking, drug addiction, gun and knife crimes, teenage pregnancies and abortion are part and parcel of British schooling. These are the reasons why majority of Muslim parents would like to send their children to Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. Only less than 10% attend Muslim schools and more than 90% keep on attending state and church schools to be mis-educated and de-educated by non-Muslim monolingual teachers. The demand for Muslim schools comes from parents who want their children a safe environment with an Islamic ethos. Parents see Muslim schools where children can develop their Islamic Identity where they won't feel stigmatised for being Muslims and they can feel confident about their faith. Muslim schools are working to try to create a bridge between communities. There is a belief among ethnic minority parents that the British schooling does not adequately address their cultural needs. Failing to meet this need could result in feeling resentment among a group who already feel excluded. Setting up Muslim school is a defensive response. State schools with monolingual teachers are not capable to teach English to bilingual Muslim children. Bilingual teachers are needed to teach English to such children along with their mother tongue. According to a number of studies, a child will not learn a second language if his first language is ignored. There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam’s teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society. IA

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Educational system

The Flemish educational system is divided into two levels: primary (age six to 12) and secondary school (12 to 18). Education is compulsory for children between the ages of six and 18.
Types - There are three educational networks in Flanders: the Flemish Community’s GO! network, and publicly funded education – either publicly or privately run.
Not enough space - In recent years, Flemish schools have been struggling with persistent teacher shortages and a growing lack of school spaces.
No tuition fees - Nursery, primary and secondary school are free in Flanders.

million school-going children in 2013


million euros Flemish education budget for new school infrastructures in 2013


percent of boys leaving secondary school without a diploma