Ontario Schools Need To Implement Proper Ethnic Education

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This petition was created the Students For Ethnic Education; an organization of youth across Ontario who understand the racial inequalities within our education system. 

This petition proposes a demand for the implementation of PROPER ethnic studies in the education curriculum in school boards within Ontario. There is a vast amount of racial inequalities in the education curriculum and it must be corrected

As you most likely have seen in news outlets, there have been many instances where people of colour have been discriminated upon due to their race. It has been apparent that the acts of discrimination being put onto people of colour are: use of racial slurs, verbal harassment, physical assault, and even murder. Lack of education and cultural awareness creates an illness that harbours a vast amount of people; this illness is called racism

As Ontario students, it is not fair that we only learned comprehensive knowledge about residential schools in Grade 11. It is not fair that I only learned limited knowledge about Martin Luther King Jr in Grade 12. It is not fair that people of colour (like ourselves) are being discriminated upon everyday and having their lives taken because of the education system’s failure to educate the people before me.

It’s time to stop judging the symptoms and start being aware of the illness.

A survey was conducted with over 300+ students and adults where we asked various questions and here are the results:

  • 33% of individuals were never taught ethnic studies
  • 82% of individuals have witnessed an act of racism in school
  • 88% of individuals have witnessed an act of racism in public
  • 95% of individuals think that ethnic studies should be taught more
  • 37% of individuals have never learned literature from the following ethnicities (African, Asian, Indigenous, European, Latin American)
  • 48% of individuals say their school have never implemented extracurricular activities to educate students about any ethnic culture
  • 84% of individuals believe that ethnic studies must be a mandatory topic of learning in school.
  • 42% of individuals who learned ethnic studies in school learned them in an optional course, not a mandatory course.
  • 50% of individuals learned very limited knowledge when they learned about ethnic studies, while 32% of individuals learned basic knowledge.

When we asked students for their opinion on the implication of ethnic studies here are some responses: 

Canada is a very diverse nation. People need to be educated about the different cultures that exist within Canada. Education leads to less ignorance. Ignorance often leads to hate. The more you understand about diversity, the more compassion and understanding you'll have.”

Ethnic studies should be taught more. There are many uneducated people that have not had the opportunity to learn about the struggles people of other ethnicities have faced. There are many people that have racist prejudices on others because they have not learnt about other ethnicities. I believe that ethnic studies being added to the curriculum could aid in lowering that prejudice.”

Ethnic studies were only ever touched upon and never taught in-depth. I think it is very important to teach the history of multiple different ethnic backgrounds in Canada, not just the caucasian people’s history. Non-white Canadians are vital to our daily lives and we should learn about them.”

When you don't have to pay for your education, it is a perfect time to educate the students. Elementary/high school is the time to teach children/teenagers valuable skills that can help them with future careers, everyday life, and post secondary. However, the ethnic studies portion is missing in the education system. We need to raise these generations being taught this information to develop our economy into a better and equal world.”

I learned more about black culture than my own culture which is indigenous. We never celebrated us but we always celebrated every other culture which is pretty unfortunate.”

As current students, we have first-hand experience with the current education system. It is clear that the system only teaches very limited information about ethnic groups. Including ethnic studies in the curriculum will help to create a generation of youth that are more informed and self-aware. Change needs to happen and it must start NOW.

Photo Credits: InCompass Photography