(French translation in progress)
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What started as a conversation between members of the community and administration throughout the last school-years, has in the 2020-2021 school-year taken form of a multi-year commitment which holds the entire foundation accountable to the vision that inclusion, diversity, equity, and anti-racism become fully integrated into every aspect of Ecolint’s existence at all times.
Ensuring this is done to a high standard is a promise to our students, employees and families, in an effort to bring us closer together and closer to our mission of “Educating students to be global citizens with the courage and capacity to create a just and joyful tomorrow together.”
We realise that it is not merely enough to pride ourselves on diverse backgrounds and over 120 nationalities brought to our three campuses by students, employees and families. In order to be truly diverse, we must see diversity as the active recognition and embracing of difference. To ensure equity we must acknowledge when some members of the community may be or may have at times felt excluded. To promote inclusion, we must create an environment in which all members of our community feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued to fully participate.
We commit to nurturing a climate that embraces all differences and offers respect not just in words, but in actions as well. This process is only possible through mutual learning. Since August 2020, we have made it a priority to create more opportunities for dialogue, for reflection, about ourselves and about others. Only through continuous learning do we optimise our education, increasingly providing a consciously inclusive culture for all our members. Through dialogue and training, we commit to developing a mutual understanding, a respectable and effective way to communicate and enough places and spaces for healing.
Our I-DEA vision requires both a top-down and bottom-up approach, with learning opportunities on personal, interpersonal, cultural and institutional levels. In the first phase, we have learned from the community members who have had the courage to step forward and help us create accountability. Only by increasing awareness and interpersonal and intercultural competence, can we consider ourselves part of a community that strives to be truly inclusive through diversity, equity and anti-racism. Only through these efforts can we truly live up to our Charter that demands all of our activities "be based on the principles of equality and solidarity among all peoples and of the equal value of all human beings without any distinction of nationality, race, sex, language or religion".
Ecolint’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Anti-Racism commitment
In our efforts to increase I-DEA at Ecolint, senior leadership and the board have committed to twelve critical success factors (CSF) created by VISIONS to help streamline all of the foundation’s efforts and initiatives.
CSF #1 - Senior Leadership Commit to a Multi-Year Initiative
Starting with the Ecolint board in September 2020, followed by the Conférence des Directeurs in October 2020, Ecolint senior leadership has committed to making I-DEA a priority in the everyday functioning of the foundation.
The first priority of the foundation steering committee, comprised of members from our entire community, will be to determine what the action plan will look like per school-year.
CSF #2 - Include All the Historical-Isms
Ecolint commits to combatting all forms of oppression.
Allowing all members of the community to determine which -isms are of initial concern, we have taken an approach that puts anti-racism efforts at the forefront in the first year of I-DEA initiatives. Using tools and learned methods to identify racism at a systemic, inter-personal, cultural and personal level has proven to help identify and understand other forms of oppression and the extents to which we still have much work to do. We emphasize that there is no hierarchy of oppression, and every effort is part of a larger transformation.
CSF #3 - Commit to Adopting a Unified Conceptual Approach
This translates to choosing a teachable, learnable and skill-building approach for all members of the community. By adopting the success factors by VISIONS, as well as their guidelines and establishing some of our own, the Ecolint community is increasingly exposed to a common language to engage in these discussions to be most efficient and effective moving forward as a foundation.
An example of a recent presentation used to define I-DEA and establish guidelines for effective communication across differences, can be found here.
CSF #4 - Plan and Account for Strategic Action at Each of the Four Levels: Personal, Interpersonal, Institutional, and Cultural
The first several months of this school-year required a personal and cultural observation and understanding. Realising that not everyone in the Ecolint community is on the same part of their I-DEA journey, means that much of the efforts in the first year have been made to understand each individual’s part of the I-DEA journey.
Together, we have and will continue to identify the institutional objectives, which include but are not limited to more diverse hiring, increased retention, evaluation and support for all community members.
CSF #5 - Create an Internal Inclusive Diversity Council and Publish the Process by Which it is Chosen and How it Will Operate.
Though our foundation exists on three different campuses, each with their unique dynamics and ways of working, the ultimate goal is to bring three parts together within a whole approach. For this reason, we have created both campus I-DEA committees, while in parallel creating a foundation wide I-DEA committee to bring all the campus specific work together.
Each campus was supported through the creation of a I-DEA committee, which combines staff, student and parent representatives from each school (Early-Years, Primary, Middle, Secondary).
From these I-DEA committees, representatives will be sent to work in the foundation steering committee, which is made up of the Director General David Hawley, I-DEA advisor Yasmine Sadri, board member leading I-DEA initiatives René Bujard, additional members of the board, and wider community.
CSF #6 - Define and Allocate Adequate Resources to the Initiative
In addition to increased funding, the commitment requires an allocation of time and energy to make room and space for these initiatives in the current structure of each school and campus.
CSF #7 - The Inclusive Diversity Council Commits Itself to Becoming a Learning Laboratory
The I-DEA committees both on campus and foundation levels, have a makeup that guarantees continuous learning between the members of the community.
Members of the campus I-DEA committees and their working groups have had an initial two day training in inclusion, diversity, equity and anti-racism by VISIONS.
Members of the foundation steering committee will undergo intensive VISIONS training before the 2021-2022 school-year. This will allow these members to become certified facilitators.
CSF #8 - Identify both Personal Objectives and Institutional Outcomes for the Inclusive Diversity Council
The first task of the foundation steering committee and its members is to establish institutional outcomes that can be laid out in an action plan per school-year.
In parallel, all members of the campus I-DEA committees are asked to share personal objectives and define how any institutional outcomes can be supported on a campus level. They then promote and work toward these goals in their respective staff, student or parent working groups.
CSF #9 - Commit to Adequate Training for the Inclusive Diversity Council and Senior Management.
See above for diversity committee training.
The Conférence des Directeurs will receive personalized training by VISIONS starting March 2021
CSF #10 - Senior Management Commit to Learning and Modeling Culturally Competent Behavior
The Conférence des Directeurs will receive ongoing coaching and training by IDEA experts to support this multi-year initiative. They will be held accountable for always promoting and modeling I-DEA values, within their work and within their teams.
CSF #11 - Define Performance Development Competencies According to Demonstrable Skills at the Four Levels: Personal, Interpersonal, Institutional and Group
Through a clear teachable and learnable approach to these initiatives, the goal is to leave no one behind and educate all members of the community on what it means to be actively inclusive, diverse, equitable and anti-racist.
CSF #12 - Ensure All Activities Within the Initiative Create an Affirming, Respectful Experience for All Participants.
All I-DEA meetings and discussions will be preceded by an explanation of VISIONS nine guidelines for effective multi-cultural dialogue. Increasingly, as we engage in more dialogue, we strive to promote an intercultural, pluralistic vision that leads to real inclusion.
Our priorities for the first year (2020 - 2021) of I-DEA
Based on the above critical success factors, our priorities for the first year can be summarized as follows:
A commitment to organise necessary training and learnings for the entire school community in order to have the right tools needed for recognising and understanding situations of oppression when they occur, and to deal with them with confidence, courage and integrity.
- Staff, students and parents on each of our campuses have undergone a training programme which introduces them to inclusion, diversity, equity, and anti-racism and most importantly, how to implement these concepts into their daily functioning at school.
- Appointed members of each campus will undergo a four-day intensive training programme as Foundation-wide advocates for I-DEA, ensuring that their respective groups of staff, students and parents have the necessary support to learn and exchange.
- Professional development (PED) days, town hall meetings, foundation-wide events dedicated to the promotion and understanding of I-DEA concepts, and speaker series will ensure that all members of the community have exposure to educational opportunities.
Providing community-wide orientation, support and retention by recognising the variety of needs among our community members. One way to ensure that voices are heard at all times, is by creating a coalition in the form of a campus I-DEA committee, which includes staff, students and parents. The creation of a parallel foundation-wide steering committee will oversee the campus committee work, support them, and set institutional goals with its representatives of the three campuses and board members, and other important stakeholders from our community.
Providing a wider range of possibilities for students to reflect on the importance of I-DEA concepts. This includes, but is not limited to, increasing opportunities to celebrate the diversity that exists within the school community by organizing events, inviting speakers and providing narratives that actively ensure inclusion by promoting diversity and nurturing equity while increasing representation for our students. Student anti-discrimination groups are being supported by leadership on each campus, they are represented in the I-DEA committees.
Create moments for the entire community to reflect on the written statements and promises made to combat oppression of all forms.
An example of this includes Campus des Nations reading their student-written anti-discrimination statement out loud to all members of the community on the UN international day for the elimination of racial discrimination. This year’s UN chosen theme was ‘Youth Standing Up Against Racism’.
Increase diversity in staff by actively recruiting for cultural competencies. Other efforts include providing scholarships for aspiring teachers from diverse backgrounds, and partnerships with academies in order to recruit more diversely.
Student-led progress in the first semester
Throughout the last few years, students, parents and staff in our community have identified the lack of real inclusion of certain marginalised groups. Preparing students to be purposeful citizens, has also meant accepting every-time they challenge a system. Including ours. In different clubs in which they address different forms of oppression, students lead dialogue, listen to others and share examples of how our whole community can do better. With the help of the students, the foundation has realised that intent and impact will only align with the right tools.
Resilient as they are, in the midst of a pandemic, students from across three campuses proudly rolled out an inclusivity toolkit, an anti-discrimination statement and engaged in counter-storytelling through film and written work; all of their methods serving as mechanisms to challenge change single stories that affect members of our community, and beyond.
These different mechanisms show the importance of student-led social justice work in education. The resilience and innovation of students, despite and through a pandemic, is sure to inspire others to find solutions and move forward as a community.
Students James Burgat, Meghna Anand and team have created the Inclusivity Toolkit. This has been exposed at the Harvard Alumni of Color conference in March 2021.
Students Mert Ayik, Lulwa Naman, Gehna Yadav, Seyi Erogbogbo, Naomie Djate, Agie Kelly, Zandile Mouyeme and their team have created the anti-discrimination statement for their campus.
Student Alastair Mackay helps share the approach of sharing stories of lived experiences, and why that is important in DEI work.
Together with student Kate Grossenbacher, Alastair Mackay and other members of a panel described and discussed everyday racism at international schools for Youth Forum Switzerland 2021
- Student Emma Pontoriero created her book on gender equality, and helps the foundation speak about intersectionality, all while emphasizing the power of students creating books and handbooks for others to read.