My name is Crisantos Ike. Before I became a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, I never would have believed I could play a big part in shaping and improving the national Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland when it comes to tackling racism in the school system.
Being a member of the Scottish Government’s Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme (REAREP) since 2021 has allowed me to represent young Black pupils and students of colour who still face many struggles daily. It is such a rewarding role to be able to listen to and share young people’s experiences, and to help the Scottish Government act on these issues.
I’ve always been amazed at how progressive and inclusive Scotland is as a country, as it strives to be a welcoming community for every individual no matter their background.
However, the recent events where both teachers and pupils have been subjected to racism online shows there are still challenges and significant improvements to be made ahead of us.
From my experience as a Black pupil in secondary school, and acknowledging what my siblings have been through, I can say that there are major changes to be made. It is just not enough to have one-off conversations about anti-discrimination or even bullying as ‘broad’ subject in a PSE class.
What is essential and needs to be emphasized is an anti-racist curriculum. A curriculum that allows educators to be effectively trained to know how to prevent and tackle racism in the classroom and how they can best support Black young people and young people of colour.
Furthermore, it’s about creating a safer and more inclusive community in which students as well as their parents and relatives understand the impact racism has on minorities and how to be active bystanders if they see racism happening.
Education is essential when it comes to the development of how we are going to be in the future.
Do we want to keep students, ourselves, in an environment where there’s no space to challenge exclusion and racism? Wouldn’t it be more worthwhile to spend our time in school and on social media raising awareness and initiating more meaningful conversations about respect and dignity? Do we want to break out of the mould, to enable young people to be accepting and resilient individuals that might lead a better country tomorrow?
I strongly believe an anti-racist curriculum is the way to do this.