Picture of #CEESAreport by Vlatka Butkovic
#CEESAreport by Vlatka Butkovic

Biography (if needed)

The importance of personal engagement

There are no quick fixes to developing inclusive cultures in schools. In order to create environments, systems, and policies that embrace inclusion and promote equal opportunities for participation, belonging, and engagement, personal engagement is crucial. 

International schools, being a cultural melting pot, have the opportunity to not only implement the necessary changes, but to be the lighthouse for other educational systems and institutions. International community that educates new generations with a clear understanding of the importance of valuing and nourishing diversity, equity, inclusion and justice is the community whose reach is much wider that it may seem. 

We educate by our own example. Therefore the responsibility lies with each of us: the teachers and the leadership, with hope that our students become aware of their own responsibility in the relationships they build and interactions they have with their peers. Every individual is included in this process, regardless of their differences. Every member of a vibrant international community contributes with their own unique perspectives and experiences. In order to understand your individual starting point in actively promoting DEIJ, you should ask yourself: is my school an inclusive environment that fosters a sense of belonging? Does everyone feel respected, accepted, and supported here? How can it be improved?

International schools often have a diverse student body with students from different cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic backgrounds. While this diversity can enrich the educational experience, it can also bring challenges to creating inclusive environments to everyone’s satisfaction.

The challenges of cross-cultural education

International school student populations are typically rich in cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic diversity. As a result, international schools often contend with language barriers, different cultural and educational expectations among families served. They therefore face possible language barriers, different educational backgrounds and cultural differences. I spoke to a 9th grade student who’d changed four schools since he started his education. He spoke openly about the difficulties he went through every time he had to adapt to a new school, find new friends and develop the feeling that he belonged there. He was always warmly welcomed, got all the support from school, and his teachers and classmates were supportive. Still, he explained that he was aware that the mere experience of constant change formed him as a person that he is. If a child with all the support struggles to adapt, how difficult is it when their needs are not met? 

Let’s take a closer look at some possible challenges and how they can be overcome:

  1. Language: Providing adequate language support and ensuring equal access to education can be a priority for inclusion supporting translanguaging practices so that all community members feel that their languages are recognized and valued..
  2. Cultural Sensitivity: Promoting understanding, respect, and cultural sensitivity is essential to create an inclusive environment where all students feel valued and accepted.
  3. Differentiated Teaching: Implementing differentiated teaching strategies can help take differences into account and ensure that all students can actively participate and succeed in the classroom.
  4. Learning Support: Ensuring that appropriate services and support measures are available for students with special educational needs and disabilities.

By prioritising inclusion, international schools can create an environment in which all students feel included, valued, and supported in their education. It is an essential component of diversity, equity, and justice efforts, as it ensures that individuals from all backgrounds have an equal opportunity to thrive and succeed. Only by embracing inclusion, schools can harness the power of diversity, leading to more innovative and effective solutions, stronger relationships and a fairer and more just society for all.

A few thoughts from the participants at the DEIJ sessions

There was a task for the participants, asking them to state in 1-2 sentences what they thought schools are ultimately accountable for. Here are some of their answers:

  • Growing a better world
  • Safety of students/staff
  • Inclusive learning practices
  • To provide education for all students and make sure all students feel safe in the school environment
  • Compassionate and curious learners
  • Providing a safe and secure environment for everyone
  • Schools are accountable to its community
  • Cultivating humans who care about other humans and the planter and behave accordingly
  • Designing for equity, dismantling systems of oppression and dehumanisation in all its form
  • Inspiring minds of young people
  • Guiding students to discover knowledge


CEESA team warmly recommends to follow this year’s DEIJ speakers: Margaret Park, Ceci Gomez-Galvez, Nunana Nyomi, Dr. MaryAnn DeRosa, Shireen Ali-Khan, Kevin Simpson and Angeline Aow.

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