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Multicultural upbringing in schools - role and impact of NGOs

Updated: Feb 23

Multicultural education deals with questions of coexistence, tolerance, and interculturalism. We often hear opinions from primary school teachers that there is not enough time dedicated to multicultural education during regular teaching hours. However, who should be a better educator for children in a multicultural spirit and take care of eliminating misunderstandings between cultures than teachers?

These cultural differences and misunderstandings often lead to the formation of prejudices, the exclusion of individuals from society, and in many cases, extensive conflicts with fatal or even tragic consequences. It is essential for teachers to have sufficient space and support for incorporating multicultural elements into their teaching, as they can be key guides in shaping understanding and respect for diversity among students.

Multicultural upbringing serves to introduce different cultures, ethnicities, and their traditions with the aim of promoting mutual understanding and tolerance. In doing so, we can stimulate a desire in children to explore different nations, teach them to perceive differences as a positive aspect, and influence their future opinions on other cultures. A positive attitude from teachers towards multicultural education is a fundamental building block for constructing a tolerant society.

On the other hand, teachers are correct in stating that in classes with 25 or more students, there is not enough time to dedicate to anything other than the school curriculum. Even though class teachers occasionally approach us, mentioning that they work in classrooms with diverse nationalities – encountering classmates from India, Vietnam, Ukraine, Brazil, or Iran. Despite these students being citizens of the Czech Republic, their nationality or ethnicity may vary. Nationality, unlike citizenship, is not tied to affiliation with a specific state.

According to the results of the 2021 Census, 83.8% declared Czech nationality (and 5% Moravian nationality). Additionally, among the citizens of the Czech Republic are Roma, Germans, Poles, Russians, and others. Can we expect a solution to the problem from authorities, municipal offices, or the Ministry of Education? Certainly, but only on a global level. Due to high workload and more serious priorities, officials do not have the opportunity to address the specific issues of individual schools or classes.

Nowadays non-profit organizations or NGOs play a crucial role in providing support as they can be instrumental in addressing real issues faced by real people, tackling what families truly need. One example is the Multicultural Center Brusinka, which actively responds to the needs of kindergartens and elementary schools with multicultural classes. We offer professional guidance in the field of multicultural education and assistance in integrating children and students with a different native language.

Partners of our Multicultural Center, the organization InBáze, organize multicultural educational and training programs for children and students. For example, last year, employees facilitated the "Box of Stories" (Bedýnky příběhů) program for students at Gajdošova Elementary School in Brno. In the past year, we have observed a significant increase in the number of children from various countries in Brno, not only from Ukraine but also from Vietnam, India, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and African countries. The Brusinka Multicultural Center actively addresses issues related to the integration of national minorities living in Brno. The goal is to facilitate the work of teachers and help students better navigate in a diverse community. In this sense, it is also important to attend various cultural events that showcase cultural features - Brazilian and Romani festivals, Babylonfest in Brno, Refufest in Prague, Multicultural week in Pardubice, cooking workshops in our Center. Also from our point of view it is important to visit the museum of Romani culture in Brno.

Ukranian group from Brno in the Museum of Romani culture
Ukranian group from Brno in the Museum of Romani culture

The key role of non-profit organizations is to act as connecting elements between students, parents, schools, and the non-profit sector. These organizations can serve as intermediaries and providers of support to improve communication and collaboration among these key entities. This extends not only to multicultural education and support for integration but also to tutoring for both foreigners and Czech children. We offer psychological, speech therapy, and social support. Moreover, we actively participate in various events, including workshops, excursions, and city camps in different languages.

Such integration and collaboration can create a stronger and more supportive educational environment for all involved parties. It is essential for all parties to collaborate in identifying needs, finding effective ways to meet these needs, and most importantly, taking concrete actions to address current issues.

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