Do you feel like you or someone you know is being treated unfairly in school? Here’s how to spot discrimination, and what you can do about it.

What is discrimination?

According to lecturer and researcher, Jerome Joorst, unfair discrimination is unequal treatment of different groups of people (such as grouping black and white kids separately) while fair discrimination would be, for example, “allocating the front seats in the classroom to learners who are visually impaired”.

What is discrimination?

According to lecturer and researcher, Jerome Joorst, Unfair discrimination can be unfair treatment based on your race, gender, disability, gender identity or any other such factor. Discrimination can take away your access to your constitutional rights, which you can learn more about here.

Discrimination in school

Issues such as racism and sexism unfortunately still exist in South African schools. These types of discrimination make the learning environment unpleasant and get in the way of certain students’ right to get an education.

Sometimes, this discrimination is done by one or more staff members while other times, it’s a part of the rules which the entire school has to follow (such as uniform rules). For more information on what discrimination looks like in schools, check out this paper.

What to do

Confide in a trusted adult- this could be your parent, a teacher or a school councillor. Explain your experiences to them, ask for their support and discuss what you think should be the next step forward.

Write a letter and address it to your school’s principal or governing body. List your concerns, and share it with your classmates so that they can sign it in support.

Reach out to an organisation that can help you. The type of discrimination you’re facing will determine who to get in touch with. For example if you’re dealing with racism, contact the Anti-Racism Network South Africa (ARNSA). Organisations such as Sonke Gender Justice assist in promoting gender equality. Have a look online or ask around in your community to find the right place where you can get help.

Know the rules you’ve agreed to. It’s normal to feel frustrated at unfair rules, however it’s important to know the rest of your school rules and follow them as much as possible. For example, posting about the issue online can go against your school rules about social media use. At some point, you may have to break a rule. However, be sure you do this in a safe way, and assess the situation carefully before moving forward.

Take care of yourself

The process of making a positive change in your school can be a long and difficult one. Self-care will be important for you during this time, especially if you face backlash or further discrimination and unfair treatment.

Discrimination in schools continues to be a major barrier between thousands of girls and their education. We’re proud of you for taking a stand against it, and remember that you can always message us for free via AskCellCgirl and we’ll help you out. Good luck!

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