Racism is visibly a continuing pattern in Australian society. It has been prevalent for many years, and has infiltrated through many generations of Australians. It is a highly observable fact, yet often ignored. It can be seen that the reason for it, however, can be based on the poor education system in Australia. In my essay, I will be discussing how racism forms at a young age due to our education system, what is being done about it, racism towards ethnic students and how racism is prevalent in many educational institutions. Racism is defined as the hatred of one person by another –or the belief that another person is less than human — because of skin color, language, customs, place of birth or any factor that supposedly reveals the basic nature of that person. Myths and stereotypes are key components of racism. People are not properly educated on the truth and an instant or fixed picture of a group of people, usually based on negative and ill-informed ideas is formed.
They are usually pre-conceived negative opinions, which in turn limits certain people from progressing due to personal characteristics such as race and color. In the article “A crack in the wall of Xenophobia”, Ross Gittins, highlights the ongoing pattern of racism in Australia. We are presented with the idea that racism dates back to the days pre-evolution. Gittins highlights that the intolerance of people from other countries come highly from the Australian government. “Our politicians have long understood that dislike of newcomers” (Gittins 2011) He affiliates the Australians strong feeling of racism with the likes of Howard, Gillard, Abbott, and evidently Hanson. “Government’s of both colors have given the highest priority to preventing individual asylum seekers from telling their stories to the media. They must continue to be seen as monstrous invaders, never as flesh and blood.” (Gittins 2011)
The argument that Gittins brings to the fore can be deemed relevant, as apparently, the government is indeed in charge of the Education system in Australia.
The education system in Australia is made up of seven years of primary schooling, followed by six years of schooling, of which only four of are compulsory. It is recognized that “children can show prejudice and discrimination at an early age” (Department of School Education 1995) Thus it is established that schools are a fundamental component when it comes to tackling racism. It is commonly reported that racism in schools is frequently not recognized or addressed by teachers/other figures of authority that have the capability to act upon it. It seems that those who do not experience racism themselves either do not identify it, or dismiss it as trivial and do not see its huge potential for damage. The peril is however, that when racist attitudes and behaviors are permitted to go unchecked in a school, a ambiance develops that sees these actions as normal and so allows racism to become fixed, and unshakable. Research and anecdotal evidence from a range of sources including education reports and standalone studies as well as the personal accounts of individuals offers information on the nature and degree of racism in Australian schools.
The evidence portrays that for many students (and even in some cases) teachers, racism is part of daily life. Young children are easily influenced by their surroundings, and having a learning environment where there is no consequences or punishments put in place for discrimination, see’s the prevalent racism continue within them till earlier years. Racism becomes a nature and is embedded within them. However it is inequitable to say that there is no efforts being put forth to try and break the vicious cycle of racism that is permeating through our generations. The government has recognized the high levels of racism in small children at school, and has set up a number of strategies to see the end of it. The website “Racism: No way” established by the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training is a website dedicated to anti-racist education in schools. Its main aims and objective is to design a project that strives to assist schools and education institutions to recognize and address the prevalent aspects of racism in the learning environment.
Through the way of online blogging, testimonials, and projects within individual schools, such as interviews, classroom activities, and e-challenges, the website endeavors to eradicate racism within small children at school. It is promising to see that the Australian government is taking a stance against racism, and especially working to eliminate the racism and racist views particularly in small children, and at schools. The idea of racism in education however, is not exclusive to small children, or schooling institutes solely. All educational institutes in Australia have seen a major up rise in racist attitudes. In the article by Ross Gittins, he recognizes Australia’s racist attitudes and deems it ‘’best thought of as xenophobia – a fear of foreigners, people who are different, who aren’t one of us.’’ (Gittins 2011)
A report conducted by a senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales found astounding results when it comes to Australian racist attitudes, particularly in the educational institutions. “Sixteen per cent of respondents reported having experienced racism within their education institute, and the reports for other institutional spheres were lesser. This indicates that the experience of racism impacts upon almost one-in-five Australians. The rates for also for those respondents who speak a language other than English (Workplace 36%; Education 30%; Housing 16%; Policing 16%). Those born overseas (excluding UK and NZ) and those who speak a LOTE at home reported the highest rates of educational racism. Men consistently reported higher rates of racism. (Dunn 2003)
The recent uprising of attacks against students of Indian background were staggering. Almost 100 students were assaulted within 12 months with brutal and horrifying actions being taken against them. It was met with much concern from the Indian government however it can be seen Australia’s government did not stress the severity of the situation as an article titled “Exaggerated Reports of Racism for Study in Australia Education” was published. The article deems that “While these reports, [of the bashings] when taken alone, indicate that Indian students in Australia are in constant danger for no other reason than racism, nothing could be further from the truth” (Virtual Student Agency 2010) The article continues on to portray Australia as a country with a ‘’great record of accomplishment, of acceptance, and of cultural diversity.” (Virtual Student Agency 2010)
It is unjust to falsely deem Australia as a country with no racist background. Aboriginal-Australians, Indian-Australians, Chinese-Australians and Arab-Australians are noted to receive the most racism in educational institutions. A paper conducted on the experiences of Arab-Australians in educational institutes shows an astounding result. “Most participants felt that the issues they had with racism or inter- cultural tension at school were linked more to student-teacher relations.” (Mansouri, Trembath 2005)
Schools and educators need to be outfitted with the essential resources and understanding to confront social inequalities in the educational environment. Students and parents in the Mansouri and Trembath study frequently articulated an explicit aspiration for learning environments where their social experiences of racism and exclusion, and their cultural backgrounds, were acknowledged and actively engaged with.
Consequently we see a colossal intolerance from both students and teachers towards students with an ethnic background. Cultural diversity is unfortunately not widely accepted in Australian educational institutes. As Gittins notes in his article “You can call it racism or religious intolerance – the nation that invented the White Australia policy can hardly object to that charge” (Gittins 2011)
The conclusion that can be deducted from this, is that Australia’s education system allows for this unfortunate ideology to exist and to continue infiltrating our educational systems. It can be seen that small precautions are being taken to try and eradicate this constant reoccurring issue. In order to lower the astonishing statistics in respect to racism in educational institutes, much more is needed to be done. Australia’s government has duty of care to re-evaluate the way in which it portrays racism. As it is evident that it is imperative for both the future and reputation of the country that racism be eliminated.