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GCSE history textbook edits have distorted the portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Pearson, the largest qualification awarding body in the UK which owns the multinational exam board Edexcel, produces history textbooks. In October 2019, UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) complained to publishers about the books’ anti-Israel bias

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GCSE history textbook edits have distorted the portrayal of the Israeli Palestinian conflict

Pearson, the largest qualification awarding body in the UK which owns the multinational exam board Edexcel, produces history textbooks. In October 2019, UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) complained to publishers about the books’ anti-Israel bias. Consequently, Pearson conducted “a full and independent review” of the books in cooperation with both the UKLFI and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. This led to alterations to the Middle East history books and their accompanying revision guides and workbooks.

A report released last month underscored how these alterations fashioned a distinctly and disproportionately pro-Israeli narrative. Written by two eminent university academics, Professors John Chalcraft and James Dickins (Middle East specialists in History and Politics, and in Arabic, respectively), the report found on average three changes per page.

Despite the considerable number and significance of the edits, no indication was provided in the books that they had been revised. In light of the report findings, Pearson has paused further distribution of the textbooks. 

Why are these alterations problematic? 

First and foremost, the conflict in question, despite it being a module taught in the GCSE ‘History’ curriculum, is by no means confined to the past. The crisis spills into the present. Its future is unclear and fragile. It is nuanced, multifaceted and highly delicate. A hefty responsibility falls upon educational examining bodies, syllabus curators and history teachers. 

While it may be easier to detach ourselves from historical conflicts that have conclusively ended, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is ongoing and evolving. The time period covered in the textbooks is consequential. Key events, many of which are in living memory, must be taught with consideration towards the different parties involved and the tangible human suffering experienced by Israelis, Arabs and diaspora communities. There is no doubt that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict carries a lot of trauma for all sides. Many wounds from the conflict continue to bleed.

Its messy history tears at ethnic, religious, political and economic strings that have unravelled the social fabric of the region. At its crux lies an existential issue that splits the two dominant sides of the conflict. The assertion that the original textbooks had an anti-Israeli bias, of course, necessitated a review. However, the process undertaken by the reviewers was deeply flawed.

Distortion, Double-standards & Cherry-Picking 

The alterations have produced a partial perspective of a multi-layered history. Professor John Chalcraft, one of the report writers, told The Analyst how a “biased revision process has involved distortion on basic issues…cherry-picking in regards to facts and interpretations, and double-standards in regards to the treatment of sensitive issues such as violence and suffering.” He also emphasised the disproportionate role given to lawyers (UKLFI) in this process. 

Pearson’s choice to work with Israeli-aligned lawyer-advocates belies their claims of a “full” and “comprehensive” review. The seriousness of the complaint filed by the UKFLI did warrant investigation. And yet, it should have been self-evident that they equally needed to consult lawyers, scholars and/or regional experts of Palestine. It is crucial that resources provided to teachers are as holistic as possible. If those rewriting and modifying textbooks have an agenda, this will influence the social lenses that students, often unconsciously, adopt. This is what Pearson has risked by their cooperation (and lack thereof) with certain groups. A credible revision process would have averted this pro-Israeli slant. 

The Spectrum of Changes

The changes have crafted a myopic narrative that is significantly shaped by the language used. Language is a powerful tool of communication that can construct or destruct, our perceptions of reality. In schools, pupils’ perceptions are particularly impressionable. They attend school with the intent to learn. There is therefore, a huge expectation for teachers to equip students with the critical language and resources that facilitate healthy dialogues on complex issues. But when these tools for interpreting the world are already skewed, this imperils such dialogue. 

The report identifies how the word “terrorism” is used far more for Arabs and Palestinians than for Jews or Israelis. Furthermore, the revised version erases all references to “Jewish terrorism” and “Zionist terrorism”. Jewish “terrorists” are twice relabelled as “paramilitaries” or “guerrillas”. By contrast, Arab or Palestinian “militants” are frequently rebranded as “terrorists”.

There are also discrepancies in the treatment of suffering. The suffering of Palestinians is watered down in numerous instances. By contrast, the sense of Jewish and Israeli suffering is amplified. The asymmetry is exemplified by the changes to this sentence: “For ordinary Palestinians, life in the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank was harsh”. The “ordinary Palestinians” become “many ordinary Palestinians” and the word “difficult” replaces “harsh”, which reduces their perceived hardship. The adjective “harsh”, interestingly, is still “retained for the conditions for the Jewish immigrants”. The edits play with the emotional latency of these descriptions so that naturally, some will evoke stronger responses in readers than others. 

Another striking manipulation of language occurs in the line ‘international law states that a country cannot annex or indefinitely occupy territory gained by force’ . In the updated edition this becomes “Some argue that international law states…” (emphasis added). This problematises the validity of what is unequivocal international legislation. This is one example of what Chalcraft underlined as double standards concerning “what is presented as controversial and what is presented as received wisdom, and what is presented as a perception and what is presented as a fact.” 

These subtle changes in language reflect how the publishers engaged with pro-Israeli groups to address a bias, only to perpetuate a different one. The publishing body chose not to collaborate with a diverse range of advocates, specialised academics, historians, and history teachers with the appropriate disciplinary credentials. Irrespective of where an individual may stand regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is objectively unfair to have the presence of lawyer-advocates for one side and none for the other. This impartiality sets a dangerous precedent for partisanship in editorial processes. 

A Robust Educational Framework

Our education system is critical for providing students with the skills, knowledge and tools to become informed and upright citizens. The pedagogical approaches in history classes need to be inclusive and cognisant of the sensitivities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

This approach must probe different arguments and sides of the conflict. One UK-based secondary school teacher, Ms Layton, commented that “…all sources have some kind of bias, unconsciously, and in some cases, consciously. I worry perhaps students take historians’ work as gospel and don’t question it enough,” indicating the importance of teaching critical-thinking skills. Students need to learn how to think alongside what to think. 

Ms Layton also mentioned how history teachers “pick sources that offer balance to ensure they reflect all sides of the argument”. The materials that authorities like Pearson provide must likewise operate by this principle. When asked about the textbook changes, Ms Layton commented that it was “hugely problematic” and reflected “the huge disconnect between what’s happening in schools and what’s happening in exam boards.” To address this disconnect, the content ‘providers’ (in this case, Pearson) have to communicate with other stakeholders in order to optimise the quality of teaching. This content should be regularly reviewed. 

Educational publishers have the power to spread or dispel bias. They cannot allow unequal influence of certain agendas and ideologies in school materials. The report concludes that the revisions “bolster pro-israeli narratives, and make pro-palestinian narratives less credible”. For students to navigate the complex terrain of this region’s modern history, there are certain pre-requisites. For example, balanced materials, analysis of a variety of original historical sources, offering different vantage points, all presented in language that is consistent and fair. Then and only then, with this firm foundation, can students proceed to learn about, dissect and critique world histories.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Crime

The Taliban’s Broken Pledges: a regressive state for women’s rights

It is an unfortunate plight that the Taliban have come back into power in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s broken pledges, prove that Afghanistan is a regressive state for Women’s rights.

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The Talibans Broken Pledges: a regressive state for womens rights

The return of the Taliban and their uncompromising government following their capture of Kabul on August 15th, 2021 is seeing the lives of Afghans spiral back into one reminiscent of that during the 1990s, and once again the rights of women are being violated the most – showcasing the examples of the Taliban’s broken pledges.

The Taliban’s promise to uphold a less repressive leadership seems to be failing especially concerning the liberties of women. Women and girls are being prevented from basic human rights such as freedom of expression, movement and freedom to earn a living. 

     For many Afghan girls however, their right to education has been their most precious ambition. But with the hope and promise of this education, these dreams have been just as quickly crushed as girls were turned away from schools, following the announcement that only girls in grade six and below were eligible to attend. Additionally, despite giving more flexibility than their predecessors, like allowing selected jobs or circumstantial travelling, the Taliban have maintained that women need to be accompanied by a male family member at all times, resulting in a negative domino effect on other rights. Thus, it seems life for girls now doesn’t differ much from how it was under the Taliban’s last rule from 1996-2001.

Canadian journalist Kathy Gannon suggests that this failure to fulfil promises to Afghan girls comes from a discordance within the Taliban itself. It seems members from newer generations in the group – many of whose daughters reportedly receive their education in Pakistan –  are at odds with older and stricter members. It may be that those holding onto more conservative views of the Taliban from the 90s are perhaps the obstacles in the way of more progressive and necessary changes.    

The rest of the Afghan population also continues to suffer from dire human rights violations. With more than a reported ‘95% of Afghans’ being food insecure for almost the entire year of Taliban government, millions of civilians, specifically children, are subject to malnutrition and facing either ‘crisis’ or ‘emergency’ levels of food insecurity. With aid halted from international governments and the restrictive measures on the roles of women, people are having to turn to extreme solutions like sending their children to work. But this alone does not provide enough to sustain even low living standards. And with a collapsed healthcare system, Afghans are barely existing.

Human Rights Watch notes this is largely due to the failure of the Taliban and foreign governments to come to an agreement regarding financial aid, and given that before August 2021, 75% of Afghan economy was dependent on foreign aid, it appears that the Taliban’s ability to fulfil their pledges relies on their cooperation and communication with both domestic and international bodies. But this doesn’t absolve foreign governments of their responsibilities – particularly in the West – who likely deliberately fail to engage with the Taliban because its politics oppose majority global opinion, and who value political favour more highly than Afghan lives.

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All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

‘Don’t forget them’: millions of Afghans face hunger, economic crisis 

International aid workers share stories of children and families struggling to make ends meet

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“Winter is coming.”

That’s how Ammar Ammar, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan, describes the situation in Afghanistan. The current hunger crisis, the result of a collapsing economy and drought, will only get worse if the country doesn’t get help, he says, especially in the colder months when people also have to stay warm.

“It’s not Game of Thrones here, it’s reality.”

Almost a year after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the world has become silent about the plight of the country and its people, who are facing one of their worst humanitarian and economic crisis in decades.

After the fall of Kabul, the international community declined to recognize the Taliban regime. Countries paused foreign aid and imposed sanctions. The United States also froze billions in Afghan state assets.

A country that had become reliant on external aid was left on its own. In the process, millions of Afghans were abandoned, too.

On a recent lunch break in Kabul, Ammar saw two girls, one about six years old and the other about three. One of them was lying down on the sidewalk, while the other was squatting next to a big nylon bag. They’d been collecting pieces of scrap metal on the streets to make ends meet. 

“You could see that they were exhausted,” Ammar said. “You are going for your break and at the same time you can see two kids on the street, where they have no break at this age. It strikes you.”

And there are thousands of children like them.

“We are doing a massive job,” Ammar says. “But the sad reality is we can’t help everyone at the end of the day.”

A woman in Qala-e-Naw, the capital of the Badghis province recently told the UN-run World Food Programme (WFP) in Kabul how she made ends meet after her husband died five years prior. 

“In the past, she said, she had a fair life, just getting by cleaning and washing for other people. After the economy collapsed, families have no money anymore to pay her and her work dried up,” said WFP spokesperson Philippe Kropf in an email. As a result, she borrows money to buy food, going further into debt.

“She told me she has not been able to buy cooking oil for weeks. She eats bread with tea and sometimes rice,” he said.

Afghanistan abandoned


A young man told Kropf that “his family went to sleep many evenings without anything to eat in the past months.”

“They borrowed food with neighbours, but increasingly the neighbours have nothing to share,” he added, noting the young man had only completed second grade and was trying to find labour jobs to make ends meet. “But these jobs are getting rarer and rarer because of the collapse of the economy, too.”

The man participated in a training program to gain skills such as tailoring or mobile phone repair to earn a livelihood. The program trains 200 men and women over six months, during which participants receive food assistance for their families. 

“After the training, (the young man) hopes to either open his own little shop, sewing clothing for men and children or to find work in a tailor shop and work for a salary,” Kropf said.

Prospects of famine remain

With the country reeling from recent droughts, and facing high inflation, a difficult situation is becoming even worse.

“For the first time, urban residents are suffering from food insecurity at similar rates to rural communities, marking the shifting face of hunger in the country,” Kropf said, noting some people are seeking help from WFP for the first time in their lives.

“The scale of the crisis in Afghanistan is immense, and needs continue to outpace available funding,” he added. The WFP needs nearly US $1 billion by the end of 2022 to help 18 million people – nearly half the population of Afghanistan.

Of that, the group urgently needs US $172 million to secure 150,000 metric tonnes of food to support 2.2 million people in remote parts of Afghanistan, which can get cut off by ice and snow in winter.

“We need these even more urgently because of the long lead-times for food commodities that we need to buy internationally,” Kropf said, including vegetable oil and specialized nutritious foods. “We need to get them into (the) country and then drive them into the mountains.”

The lack of funds in state bank accounts means civil servants aren’t being paid regularly, companies are shutting down and ordinary civilians face restricted access to their own savings.

Prospects of famine remain, said Ammar, noting that the main indicator is farming, which most people depend on to make ends meet. Farmers say climate change is resulting in less food production, resulting in extended periods when people don’t have adequate access to food.

Need for international aid

At the end of June, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit southeast Afghanistan, killing      over 1,000 people and causing damage the International Rescue Committee described as “catastrophic.”

“This earthquake is a catastrophe for the people affected, but the response to the wider crisis in Afghanistan remains a catastrophe of choice for the international community,” said David Miliband, the group’s CEO and president in a release at the time.

“While humanitarian aid has averted famine for now, policies of economic isolation, the halting of development funding, and the lack of support for Afghan civil servants are unraveling the two decades of development progress that western leaders vowed to protect.” 

He noted that families across the country face unemployment, leading to lower demand among local businesses which in turn leads to further job losses. He called for the international community to urgently provide funding to the country as well as “the phased and closely monitored unfreezing of assets.”

The question of frozen assets

Advocates for Afghanistan have criticized U.S.’s decision to freeze a portion of the country’s assets and decried a proposal for the U.S. to use some of them to support families affected by 9/11.

Afghanistan’s assets rightfully belong to Afghanistan, said Zubair Iqbal, a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington. 

However, while unfreezing the funds would help bring immediate help to alleviate Afghanistan’s crisis, the country will need more support in the long-term, said Iqbal, who previously worked at the International Monetary Fund for more than 30 years.

The solution is to grant foreign aid to Afghanistan in a sustainable way to allow recovery, while managing its spending through an independent entity, he said.

Concerns around a proposal in the U.S. to use some of the Afghan assets to support families affected by 9/11 prompted a group of Afghan women to write an open letter to U.S. President Joe Biden in February.

“Taking funds from the Afghan people is the unkindest and most inappropriate response for a country that is going through the worst humanitarian crisis in its history,” the letter reads. “It is the squeezing of a wounded hand.”

Freezing the assets from the Taliban was the right decision, said one of the signatories in an interview, but they belong to the Afghan people and must be released to address the humanitarian crisis. 

“My expectation from the international community is to put serious attention on Afghanistan,” said Roshan Mashal, former deputy director of Afghan Women’s Network, who left Afghanistan after the takeover and is now a fellow at the University of Texas at Arlington. 

She called for coordination on how countries engage with the Taliban and to support the country’s people, as millions of Afghans face hunger and economic crisis.

“Don’t forget them,” she said.


All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Women's Issues

“My Hijab instils British values in schools”

Wearing my hijab as a school teacher educates my students about British values and other cultures and religions.

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Hijab wearing teacher

As a secondary school science teacher who wears the hijab, I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of schools – including a state all-girls school, a Catholic all-boys school and a state mixed school. In every school environment I have worked in, I have always been met with respect by both colleagues and students.

Anyone who has worked in a school environment will know that pupils are always intrigued to know more about the personal lives of the teachers around them. This often helps foster a positive relationship in the classroom, and helps students feel comfortable and confident in class. I have been asked numerous questions about my age, my education, my marriage, and (being a visible, hijab-wearing teacher) my faith. I tend not to shy away from questions about my faith. I see it as an opportunity to teach students about the realities of Islam (which are misconstrued in the media). 

The school I currently work at, in Surrey in the UK, has pupils from a predominantly white working-class background. Some of these pupils have never had the opportunity to openly ask Muslims questions about their faith. Since working here I have been asked questions such as: 

“Why do you wear a scarf miss?”

“Do you wear the scarf at home?”

“Why do Muslims pray five times a day?”

“Miss, are you doing Ramadan?”

And my personal favourite was from a student who had picked up the word “Mashallah” (an Arabic word indicating praise or approval which means ‘as Allah willed’) from TikTok and asked me what it means.

Children, by nature, are curious about the world around them. As teachers, we are here to develop that curiosity and understanding. This job is not limited to the subject we teach. If we have a look at the National Curriculum Framework in England (for KS1-KS4), one of the key aims of the curriculum is to provide “pupils with an introduction to the essential knowledge they need to be educated citizens”. The Department for Education has also highlighted the importance of promoting British values within schools, which states that all schools “have a duty to ‘actively promote’ the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”

Giving my non-Muslim students a safe space to ask me various questions about my faith and personal life allows them to see that, despite being a hijab-wearing teacher, they can relate to aspects of my life, which shows that I am not that different to them. This helps build a bridge between Muslim and non-Muslim communities, develops social integration and fosters those British values (of respect and tolerance) within students.

Hijab wearing teacher helping student
The hijab has a positive impact of society and helps foster tolerance and understanding

Having a hijab-wearing teacher also has another positive impact on Muslim students within schools.

The girls’ school that I worked at was a very diverse school in London, which had a large proportion of young Muslim girls. It was evident that being represented within the teaching staff, and having a teacher “like them” had a powerful impact on confidence, motivation, and (as a result) attainment. I noticed the ‘shy’ girls coming out of their shells, and starting to raise their hand more in class. It was also evident that they felt more confident talking about their culture and faith around non-Muslims. This phenomena exists across the globe, with the Center for American Progress reporting that an increase in diversity amongst the public school teaching force enhances student performance amongst students of the same background.

The power of representation is well known across all sectors of society. There was a particular incident at school where one of my colleagues, who was in charge of creating resources for PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) days, had mistakenly included some false information about arranged marriages and the Islamic Nikah (marriage contract). Upon seeing this, I was able to educate this particular colleague about Islam and remove misconceptions. This led to the colleague asking me to fact-check all the information on Islam she decided to use in her presentations in the future. As a school community, this led to all students and teachers within the school receiving the correct information about Islam and my culture. It is evident that both adults and children reap the benefits of representation.

It would be naïve to assume that Muslims in the workplace do not struggle because of their identity. However, it is only through becoming visible ambassadors of Islam that we can open up avenues to have positive, and educational conversations with those around us. The hijab is my identity as a Muslim woman. Being free to express my identity at work has enabled me to build strong relationships with both pupils and colleagues, which has made me the teacher I am today. We have a responsibility to make sure that all students feel the same confidence regarding their religion, culture, and identity within schools so that they can reach their potential and become ‘educated citizens’ of the future. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

18 Year Old Massacres 14 Elementary Students and a Teacher in Texas

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  • Salvador Ramos, an 18 year old, entered Robb elementary School in Uvalde, Texas with a handgun and shot dead 14 children and a teacher before being taken down by an officer. 
  • The incident occurred at 11:32 am on Tuesday May 24th, 2022. Two reporting officers have also been injured trying to capture the shooter. Ramos has been reported dead as well.  
  • Ramos had also killed his grandmother right before driving to the elementary school. 
  • Investigation is still taking place as the school is trying to make sure all the other students are accounted for and handed off to their parents safely. 
  • President Biden is to speak on the school shooting this evening. Just this year, 2022, alone, there have been 27 school shooting incidents in the United States thus far. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Society

Black Students in England Face Alarming Rates of Exclusions and Over Policing

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Canadian school board says all staff must now take anti Islamophobia training

Education is hailed as the key to establishing a world built upon more just foundations. But while this can definitely be the case, systemic practices in the West mean that educational institutions are not always geared towards being just. A recent Commission on Young Lives report in England shows that it is often in schools that racism and prejudices start, especially targeting Black students.

The report detailed the exclusion of Black students in schools, their adultification and the discrimination they face — from subtle racism to overt expressions of it. It shared the stories of many Black students who had been impacted by discrimination in their schools, and then proposed recommendations that schools should take into account.

Exclusions are a form of discipline practiced in schools across the West, but they often disproportionately impact Black students. Across England the report found that over seven years, there was a 55% increase in the number of students being permanently excluded from schools. Similarly, there was a 40% increase on temporary exclusions.

The upward trend in exclusions handed out to young Black students later leads to the criminalization of Black people and their overrepresentation in the country’s jails. Statistics prove that many of those who receive cautions or sentences for offences have previously been excluded from schools. For some Black students, when going to school is off of the table, they must find another way to sustain themselves. Stefan, someone who was excluded from his school, testified in the report that this was the case for him. “When someone gets kicked out of school [they are] pushed right into the groomers’ hands.”

Instead of teaching a child a lesson, like school discipline is supposed to do, the disproportionate rate of exclusions among Black students sets them up for failure and criminalization.

For some Black students, however, their exclusions have nothing to do with crime at all. Instead, they come from the discriminatory discipline policies that target Black pupils like the banning of black hairstyles, kissing teeth and fist bumps, among other things.

These policies do not only directly impact the education of Black people by kicking them out of school all together, on the basis of cultural identity, but they further the injustice against Black students by giving it an excuse to continue. When the school administration can penalize Black students for their forms of expression, students follow suit in teasing, bullying and discrimination against Black children. In the long run, then, instead of eradicating prejudices, the unfair treatment of Black students perpetuates them.

There is also significant evidence of over policing of Black students in British schools, leading to the adultification of young Black children. The term “adultification” describes a form of prejudice in which children from a minority group are made to seem less innocent based on their racial or ethnic identity.

The over policing of Black students comes as a result of the stereotypes that they are more aggressive, less innocent and the type of people to be protected from instead of the type of people to be protected.

In many cases, police have been found to treat young Black girls in a horrifying manner when called to schools for investigations, strip searching them at such a vulnerable age. It was found that although black Caribbean children make up only 5% of secondary school students, over 17% of strip-search cases are related to them.

The fact that the police and educational institutions are involved in the harmful treatment of Black students means that there is no one at an authoritative level that is taking a step forward in protecting minor Black children the way they should be. Subsequently, the disproportionate rate at which Black students are mistreated continues to skyrocket.

The unjust treatment of Black pupils in the education system means that they are not able to receive the same quality of education as the rest of their classmates. It was found that of all boys aged 15-17 in Youth Offender Institutions, only 50% have literacy rates above the average 7-11 year old.

When they are forced to spend more time worrying about the consequences of displaying their cultural identity or the implications of being treated way older than they actually are, Black students face statistically proven disadvantages. Down the line, Black adults find less job opportunities, are more highly criminalized, and have lower rates of graduation/post-secondary acceptance. 

It is not enough for schools to simply be responsible for teaching students justice. The teachers, staff, environment, curriculum, policies and community will all have to exhibit behaviours that exemplify justice.

Educational institutions will have to take a step forward in the protection of Black children. That means understanding that there are differences in treatment towards Black students that are harmful. That means introducing better policies, race equality teaching for staff and students, ending policing in schools and hiring more Black staff in schools. 

That means that Black children must be seen as children. Black children must be seen as learners. Black children must be seen

We cannot only leave change up to the future, it’s got to start in the present. If education is where the change in our world is going to start, then the change must start with schools.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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I am a student from Ontario, Canada, and an aspiring journalist. I enjoy reading, writing and learning about the world around us - the issues with it and how we can make it a better place.

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Society

OPINION: We Need to Tackle Misogyny and ‘Incel Culture’ in Society not Just in Schools

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via Creative Commons

Discussions of misogyny in the workplace has always been a topic. From women being treated unfairly at work, unequal pay to sexual harrassment by their male colleagues.

Society has progressed significantly over the past few decades, from when women were not allowed to vote or own property to seeing successful women in powerful positions such as Angela Merkel, Kamala Harris, Jacinda Ardern etc. 

However, there are always incidents that make one question whether society really has progressed to the extent like we think it has.

A recent article in the Guardian has claimed that 70% of female teachers have faced misogyny in UK schools. 

The article describes that female teachers have been subjected to misogyny and even sexual harrassment by their male colleagues and male students.

Contributors have reported some incidents on SKY news:

  • “Year 9 boys asking in class if I’d had breast implants. I have had my backside grabbed in corridor by pupils.” Another said: “My mentor when I was teacher training said he was going to ‘tie me up and rape me’.”
  • One said that a student had asked “Is it your time of the month miss?”, while others reported sexualised remarks about their appearance.
  • Another responded said pupils had exposed themselves or made sexual noises or gestures during lessons

The article also reports that: Teachers have raised concerns about the influence of “incel” subculture on teenage boys, as a survey revealed that seven in 10 female teachers have been victims of misogyny in school.

What is Incel culture and how does it link to misogny at school?

The definition of Incel culture is: “An incel is a member of an online subculture of people who define themselves as unable to get a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one”.

There are online forums on various social media platforms where men, mostly younger men and teenagers come together and discuss their frustrations and hatred towards women.

Root causes for why men join such a group may possibly be the lack of self-esteem, self pity and rejection by women, early exposure to pornography and witnessing unhealthy relationships at home.

Other causes could be the distorted expectations and pressures that have been set on relationships by society, on social media and the oversexualisation of women in mainstream media.

These ideas are not reality and can lead to men being disrespectful to women, treating them as objects and not giving them the respect they deserve.

The sanctity of relationships especially love relationships has been contaminated which is why as a society we need to reform the objective and purpose of relationships.

What can be done?

The numbers of women in schools or any other work environments reporting such high numbers of misogyny and harrassment is concerning. 

The fact that people of the Incel culture have been involved in several crimes towards women is also worrisome. 

This raises the question of what sort of actions can be taken to reduce this number. 

One such thing could be to educate young men and women much more in school environments. 

Teach the importance of treating everybody equally. 

More severe laws need to be passed that protect the dignity of women in the workplace and more. 

There need to be real consequences for such actions in conjuction with destigmatisation of women who come forward to report such events.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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