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The skin colour pencil set will help tackle racism at an early age, Source: City of Ghent

Ghent distributes all skin shades colour pencils to tackle racism in schools

Ghent distributes all skin shades colour pencils to tackle racism in schools

The local government recognises the pencils as a fun and effective way to tackle racism at an early age

The City of Ghent, in Belgium, distributed coloured pencils in schools with which children can put every shade of skin colour on paper. The move was announced at the start of the week and is part of the local government’s training programme for teachers on dealing with discrimination in education. The pencils are an attempt to make diversity part of the classroom in a fun way from a very early age.

Spreading good practices

The move was inspired by The Sint-Janscollege Oude Bareel in Sint-Amandsberg, a suburb of Ghent that has been using skin coloured pencils for some time now. The city recognised the potential pedagogical benefits and quickly moved to purchase 2,000 sets of pencils.

According to the city’s announcement, they will become a staple of teacher training days, free of charge. The idea is to make the pencil sets available to every school. Elke Decruynaere, Alderman for Education, explained in a press release that the pencils are a creative way to embrace Ghent’s diversity and an effective tool to tackle racism at an early age.

The next teacher training day will take place on 16 November and it will focus on bystander response training for teachers in cases where they witness discrimination. A similar training programme is planned for third grade students in the spring of 2022.

Astrid De Bruycker, Alderman for Equal Opportunities, explained that the training aims to expand the toolset of both education professionals and students when responding to undesirable behaviour. He continued by underlining the need to remove social barriers for a proper response to bullying, intimidation, insult and discrimination.

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