Schools as a Protective Factor Against Exclusion
Schools must act as a protective factor against exclusion, promoting positive coexistence among students. In fact, according to the laws existing today, one of the functions that the educational system must fulfill is to implement interventions aimed at developing personal freedom:
- Personal freedom
Schools as a protective factor against exclusion
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000), approved by the Nice European Council, dictates the following articles related to the perpetuation of human dignity and non-discrimination:
- “Article 1. Human dignity is inviolable. It shall be respected and protected.”
- “Article 21. Any discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnic or social origin, genetic characteristics, language, religion or convictions, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age, or sexual orientation is prohibited.”
Therefore, one of the areas where children and youth must have protection against exclusion is in school. Unfortunately, however, we have yet to fully achieve this. Many students experience loneliness, lack of understanding, and rejection from their peers during the school day. This is unacceptable!
“It’s not about having the right to be equal, but having the equal right to be different.”
The education system has to do everything possible to prevent these circumstances and intervene when necessary. It bears the responsibility of creating a climate that all students perceive as safe and welcoming.
Which students are most at risk of exclusion?
Some students, due to their personal characteristics or personal circumstances, are at greater risk of exclusion. Some of these groups are:
- Students with Special Educational Needs: They’re often excluded by their peers due to the fact that they present certain social, physical or learning difficulties, etc. In addition, they have a wide range of factors (physical vulnerability, challenges with social skills, or intolerant environments) that can increase the risk of rejection.
- Students with fewer economic resources: Children and young people from poor or low-income families may suffer school exclusion because of the type of clothing they wear, the way they speak, etc.
- Students of different races or cultures: Racial and cultural factors such as skin color, ethnicity, or cultural, political, or religious beliefs can lead to the marginalization of these students because peers perceive them as different.
- LGTBI students: Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, and intersex children and adolescents can suffer from unfair exclusion by their peers because they can’t comprehend non-heteronormative realities. What’s more, this group may experience rejection from their own family, without receiving any kind of support from them. Therefore, it’s very necessary that schools support LGTBI students, emphasizing the fact that what’s happening to them is nothing negative.
As teachers, we must pay special attention to the interactions of these groups of students to keep them safe from the possible rejection they may suffer.
In short, schools have a duty to take appropriate measures when necessary, with the purpose of reducing exclusion. This is of great relevance when it comes to achieving an inclusive school in which all types of students can develop successfully, academically, and personally.
“Inclusive education is the best solution for a school system that must respond to the needs of all its students.”
– UNESCO –