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

An evolving process

Justice in the context of DEIJ refers to the fair and equitable treatment of all individuals, regardless of their diverse backgrounds and identities. DEIJ stands for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice, and it encompasses the principles and practices that aim to create a more just and inclusive society.

Achieving justice in American international schools is an ongoing process. It requires the collective efforts of all those involved. By encouraging a culture of inclusivity, providing equitable opportunities, and addressing systemic barriers, international schools can strive to create an environment that upholds justice and promotes the well-being and success of all students.

School leaders, teachers, and students must actively engage in practices such as educating themselves about the experiences and struggles of marginalised communities. They must challenge their own biases and prejudices, advocate for policies that promote equal treatment and representation, and create inclusive spaces where everyone can thrive.

Justice is an ongoing and evolving process that requires the continuous effort and commitment of all individuals and institutions to create a more equitable and just society.

Addressing and rectifying past and present injustices

Justice, in this context, means addressing and rectifying past and present injustices. It involves recognising and challenging systemic biases. It requires promoting accountability, advocating for equal rights and protections, and ensuring that marginalised groups are not further marginalised or excluded. 

Here are some of the suggestions on how to ensure justice in our schools, based on the conversations between DEIJ sessions attendees this year. Note that the list below is a collage of ideas collected from many teachers engaged in promoting DEIJ in their schools. 

  • All students, parents, staff and faculty should be engaging in accessible and equitable practices. The school should accept families who are inline with the school mission and vision. Schools would actually be diverse, more than just nationalities – more ethnicities, socio-economic diversity. In short, we would hopefully have more students who actually are diverse.
  • The community should be working on reflective practices and being comfortable identifying their own bias. Schools should provide ongoing workshops and reflection opportunities. We must identify the barriers and invite all community to work toward solving the problem collectively. From all voices. Be proactive and reflective. 
  • Mission and vision must focus on equity and inclusion. Schools should hire staff/faculty who are inline with the mission and values of the school. In addition to student, our leadership needs to reflect the world around us, our curriculum needs to represent the history of stories of everyone. Staffing would be diverse and from different educational backgrounds not only from ‘western’ institutions. Advocate to local governments to recognise degrees and qualifications from non-western universities and institutions.
  • More education on this topic is needed: We have to work more on student relationships – help them explore their identities and social status. This requires us to educate students (and teachers) about different situations. We need less bullying. We must take actions that are equal to each situation regardless of gender or age. We also need to be more inclusive of students with special needs. We need more diverse student population.
  • There should be a lot more interaction with regional public schools and community groups. Work with them. Provide scholarships. Divert part of the tuition fees to enabling students who require financial support to attend. Encourage community partnerships.

Equality and justice are not interchangeable

Equality promotes fairness and justice, just like equity, but equality presumes that every person starts from the same place and needs the same things. It is not true, neither of our current society nor of an international school. Equity recognizes that different individuals and communities face different barriers and challenges, and seeks to ensure that everyone has a fair chance to succeed and thrive. While equality and equity are not synonymous, both are needed to sustain social justice. Equality is the state of being equal. Justice is the quality of being fair and in order for DEI to be effective, there must be social justice.

How do we move from symbolic to actual change?

We’ll wrap up this series of articles on DEIJ with several questions Angeline Aow asked the group at her DEIJ session in March:

  • How to move from symbolic change (i.e., policies) to embodying change (i.e., systems/structures)?
  •  How to move effectively as a whole school and not divisionally? 
  •  The idea of accountability –  how to own that mistakes have been made; how have these been dispersed through different roles?
  • How to confront personal biases – even when we believe we are bias-free?

We hope that our sessions on DEIJ have helped you get connected and encouraged you to start a change in your school. Feel free to contact CEESA team if you want to get involved in the DEIJ project next school year.

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.

Check other DEIJ articles published on our blog: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

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