Student reports of racism

⌚︎ 2 min.


Case study

Student reports of racism

Kind of education

Ten years of primary level education received in his home country.

Definition of the learner

An Afghan refugee, aged 26, living in Germany for two years, married, with one young child; level of German: elementary level in writing (A2 level) and intermediate level in speaking (B1 level).

Description of the group

20 students: 12 Afghans, 1 Russian, 1 Somalian, 2 Syrians, 3 Austrians, 1 Moroccan

Definition of starting situation

Without being asked, a student reports during a school class (German/communication/society) about how he had been verbally attacked several times on the streets of his town in a racist way, and about how traumatized he is about this. At the moment when the attacks happened, he found himself feeling overwhelmed, he did not know how to react, and said notihing to anyone.

Description of the course

At the moment, he is frequenting the 2nd chance education course for adults in order to obtain a certificate from a compulsory school (evening class).

Description of teaching team

2 teachers (co‐teaching) with good knowledge of interpersonal relationship.

Possible actions and impacts

Give the student sufficient time to express himself and recount his experience (the teacher is flexible, sets a new goal for the class - political education, which is also part of the curriculum). A positive atmosphere of trust in teachers and peers is essential for sharing experiences.

  • This gives the student an opportunity to release tension. The students feels that he is taken seriously and that he is being listened to. Denying the situation would be like denying that it happened; it would be a form of supporting, or even repeating the racist act.
  • The class learns that racist acts happen all the time; they learn about what kind of feelings/emotions this causes in the victim.
  • Students who might have suffered from similar experiences learn that they are not the only ones. Sharing experiences and considering what kind of reaction is appropriate or inappropriate can be very helpful.

Introduce the first ten Human Rights. Students decide which rights got violated in the situation described by their fellow student. The implementation of human rights in state legislation can be explained and discussed.

Raising awareness about equal rights for all. Anti‐racism is not just a question of ethnicity, we are all protected by laws. Students learn that verbal racist acts can be prosecuted in court.

Students perform role‐plays and simulations of the situation that occurred (with a perpetrator and a victim) and try to think of different ways how the victim can react non-violently.

  • Students get trained to react appropriately and non-violently in such situations.
  • Students who play the role of the aggressor (perpetrator) can understand and express the possible (but not justified) motivation of the aggressor.

The teacher informs the students about the NGO Zara, which helps victims of racism. He explains that it is important to report all incidents so that they can be registered as part of Zara's statistics. They remind students that racism in Austria is present, and that it cannot be overlooked..

Students know where to turn to in future, become more autonomous, and understand that institutions on a state level provide a supporting network and the possibility of counselling.

Advice, remarks, conclusions

Before you decide to focus on the issue in class, make sure that students are comfortable with the subject, and that they see how they can benefit from learning about this sensitive topic.

Human rights