Feeling comfortable in the classroom
A learning environment in which you feel welcome and where everyone is treated equally — that is important, of course. But how do you make this a given? Students Rishainy Bomberg and Saïd Touhami are members of the UNESCO Youth Committee, where they actively work on this topic. On Thursday 15 October, during the Dutch launch of the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report 2020, they emphasised that education should actively work on inclusiveness. ‘We have to go from a culture of me to a culture of we.’
Inclusiveness is a challenge all over the world. After all, no one wants to feel excluded. The UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report shows that students who do feel underprivileged have the least chance of success. Education can greatly contribute to an inclusive society in which we can support each other: a society where everyone can succeed. We have to get rid of that “underprivileged”.
But before we can work towards a future of equality, we need to have an image of what inclusive education is. ‘When we ask students what inclusive education means to them, we receive different opinions and visions’, says Rishainy. ‘But, in the end, it all boils down to one thing: enjoying quality education in an environment where everyone feels welcome, regardless of their background.’
Inclusion enables you to increase the quality of education. According to Saïd, you don't do this through a “piecemeal approach” (an approach where you only tackle a few problems), but with a big plan. For example, through a strong collaboration between students and lecturers. ‘Starting specifically with education is so important because education prepares for the future. What are students trained for? They should be trained for a future of peace and equality.’ As a student, you can also help to create an equal atmosphere. Saïd: ‘Inclusiveness happens in small steps. For example, through the use of language. You can say: “my country”, that's exclusive, but if you change it to “our country”, it already sounds different. It changes the context.’
Everyone is different and unique. Recognising and accepting that which is “exclusive” is precisely what makes us “inclusive”. Rishainy: ‘Think in terms of “we” and not “me”, that's what it's all about. Celebrate your diversity.’ Rishainy and Saïd have made a video together about how different students think about inclusive education. Since the autumn of 2020, they have each been an intern / student assistant at the Global & Inclusive Learning Centre of Expertise, working within the Student Branch.