Viikki Teacher training schools plan for equality and diversity
2018–2021 Equality and diversity plan
2018–2021 EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY PLAN
Why plan? The law obliges us to have a plan
Equality means equal opportunities for all. Since 1995, the law has obliged every workplace with at least 30 employees to have a gender equality plan. When the Act on Equality between Women and Men (609/1986) was amended in 2005, this obligation was extended to cover all educational institutions as well. Since the 2014 amendment of the Act, the obligation has encompassed all education providers. The Non-Discrimination Act (1325/2014) requires education providers to have a plan for the promotion of equality.
The purpose of the Act on Equality between Women and Men is to prevent gender discrimination, promote equality between women and men and, to this end, improve the status of women, particularly in working life. Another objective is to prevent discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. (Sections 1–3 of the Act on Equality between Women and Men)
According to the Act, education providers must ensure that girls and boys as well as women and men have equal opportunities for education, training and professional development, and that teaching, research and instructional material support the attainment of the Act’s objectives.
Equality must be promoted in education and training while taking into account the age and level of development of the children (section 5 of the Act on Equality between Women and Men).
Equality means equal treatment
The concept of equality is not confined to gender equality. As defined in the Constitution of Finland, everyone is equal before the law and no one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the ground of any reason that concerns his or her person (section 6).
According to section 6 of the Non-Discrimination Act, education providers must evaluate the realisation of equality in their activities, take necessary measures to promote the realisation and ensure that they have a plan for the necessary measures for promoting equality.
The evaluation must consider the admissions criteria for pupils and students, the instructional material used in teaching, the measures taken to prevent bullying and harassment, the equality of teaching situations, the assessment of learning outcomes, and the equality competence of teachers.
The purpose of the Non-Discrimination Act is to promote equality and prevent discrimination as well as to enhance the protection provided by law to those who have been discriminated against (section 1).
The aim of the equality plan is to identify and tackle discrimination, assess the impact of equality in the functions, activities and practices of the organisation, implement measures that promote equality and increase participation (Equality planning guide of the Ministry of the Interior 2010, p. 14).
The opposite of equality is inequality
The opposite of equality is inequality. Unequal treatment may also constitute discrimination.
Discrimination entails treating a person or a group of people differently from others based on a personal characteristic, without a legitimate reason such as an age limit on voting.
Discrimination may be intentional or unintentional. It may be deliberate and considered, or it may be caused by customs and practices that have not been considered. For example, a person may have a habitual manner of speaking that belittles, insults or excludes others.
Various customs and practices may create and maintain inequality. For example, word choices, attitudes and mindsets may create or maintain it, and operations, facilities and teaching methods may increase and reproduce it. The more these become habits and are repeated, the more they pass on inequality to the next generation.
All school operations, practices and learning materials must therefore be assessed from the perspective of equality.
What is discrimination?
Under the Act on Equality between Women and Men, discrimination constitutes discrimination based on gender or gender identity. According to the Act, discrimination involves direct and indirect discrimination, sexual harassment and gender-based harassment (section 7).
According to the Non-Discrimination Act, no one may be discriminated against on the basis of age, origin, nationality, language, religion, belief, opinion, political activity, trade union activity, family relationships, state of health, disability, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics (section 8).
According to the Constitution of Finland, no one shall be discriminated against based on any reason that concerns his or her person (section 6).
This is discrimination
Direct discrimination means treating a person or a group of people differently from others without an acceptable reason.
Indirect discrimination is constituted by, for example, an apparently neutral rule, criterion or practice that puts a person at a disadvantage compared with others.
Implicit discrimination involves disparaging, excluding and ignoring a person and leaving a person without support.
Structural discrimination involves thinking that discriminatory practices cannot be changed.
In multiple discrimination, a person or a group of people are discriminated against based on more than one reason.
Discrimination also includes harassment and inappropriate behaviour.
An instruction or order to discriminate is discrimination.
Any retaliation is also considered discrimination: everyone has the right to invoke anti-discriminatory principles without having to suffer negative consequences.
Accessibility means that the physical, mental and social environment allows everyone to function equally irrespective of their personal characteristics related to sight, hearing, mobility, age, learning difficulties or similar factors.
What action to take?
The third equality survey at the Viikki Teacher Training School was conducted in February 2018. Based on the survey and the discussions we have had so far, the school is committed to the following objectives and measures.
Our primary objective is to talk more about equality.
Although equality and diversity have recently been discussed in the media and elsewhere, perhaps more than ever, we must also discuss bullying, harassment, discrimination and equality at the school.
All our school operations, practices and learning materials must be assessed from the perspective of equality. Do our traditions, practices, operations and materials promote or prevent equality?
Topics to discuss
We understand questions of values differently at different ages, which is why they must be discussed again and again. We must regularly return to the following questions:
What is equality?
What is diversity?
Who needs accessibility?
Why do we discuss these topics?
Only after that can we discuss the following:
Do our school’s practices promote equality?
Do our school’s practices and operations prevent discrimination, bullying and harassment?
Is Viikki accessible?
And then we can move on to the following:
How can we promote equality?
How can we prevent harassment, discrimination, bullying and violence?
We should continue to have these discussions in a motivating and respectful manner. Different school subjects may approach these questions from different angles, and they must be treated differently in different grades, adjusting the discussions to the pupils’ and students’ age and level of development.
We must discuss equality and diversity when planning the school’s operations, festivities and facilities, composing teaching groups and choosing learning environments, methods and materials.
Another key objective is to intervene in unequal treatment more effectively.
Unequal treatment infringes individuals’ rights and prevents us from creating mutual trust. It also decreases solidarity, lowers community spirit and weakens the community.
Bullying, harassment and discrimination also cause fear in those who are not personally affected by them. The same applies to violence. Every day, we see different forms of violence at school, and this is something we should not let pass.
How to intervene?
We must name unequal treatment, bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence and do our best to end them.
Everyone should speak up if he or she, or anyone else, is treated unequally. Currently we are in a situation in which many people who witness bullying do nothing about it, and many people who are bullied remain silent.
Nobody can put a stop to bullying, harassment and discrimination alone. We need mutual agreement to create a school community that takes a stand against inequality.
How to intervene in unequal treatment
If you see or experience unequal treatment, bullying, harassment or discrimination, speak up and say that you do not accept it. Do not stay silent, walk away from the situation or give the impression that you did not notice it.
Instead, say that you do not accept that kind of behaviour. For example, say “Stop it”, “That’s not right”, “Is it right to say that?” or “You can’t say that”. If you can, justify this with something like “That’s not fair”. Do not condone bullying, harassment or discrimination.
If the unequal treatment does not stop immediately, tell someone about it. Unequal treatment must be vocalised and reported to someone. Tell a teacher, principal, colleague, friend or someone at home.
If you cannot or do not want tell anyone about it, ask a guardian, friend or colleague to do so. You can also tell someone about unequal treatment via private message, email or Wilma.
Even those who are not personally affected by bullying, harassment, discrimination or violence, but are aware of such behaviour, should have the courage to speak up.
Whom to tell?
Pupils and students should talk to teachers or principals about unequal treatment. Teachers and other staff members should talk to a principal or the dean, and principals to the dean.
If the unequal treatment continues after the matter has been discussed, bring it up again. In this case, talk to another teacher or principal. Do not wait too long to broach the subject again.
Unequal treatment must be tackled and stopped. Teachers, principals and supervisors are responsible for putting a stop to unequal treatment. The process may include mediation, and disciplinary action may be taken as a result of unequal treatment.
If a teacher or principal is not able to take action, he or she must turn to another teacher or principal for help.
Members of the university community can also turn to the University’s equality advisor for advice: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laws on discrimination (only available in Finnish)
Sexual and gender-based harassment
Sexual harassment and gender-based harassment are common at schools. They may take verbal, non-verbal or physical forms.
Harassment violates the harassed person’s privacy or physical integrity and creates an atmosphere that is uncomfortable, derogatory, stigmatising, humiliating or intimidating.
How can I tell what constitutes sexual or gender-based harassment?
In sexual harassment and gender-based harassment, sexuality or gender is brought up in an unnecessary or inappropriate way. Read more about sexual harassment and gender-based harassment.
Sexual harassment and gender-based harassment are harmful in many ways. That is why we must pay special attention to them.
Do not accept harassment. If you witness or experience harassment, make it known that you do not accept it. Do not remain silent in a situation in which you experience or witness harassment.
Tell a teacher, principal, colleague, friend or someone at home about the harassment. If the harassment does not end immediately, tell another teacher or principal. Do not brood over the matter on your own.
Although people know about bullying, harassment and discrimination, they often say nothing. This is wrong because silence indicates indifference and acceptance.
The third objective is to show that we can do more to promote equality and diversity.
This is what we propose.
The school will change if…
You invite everyone to influence matters that concern us all.
You pay attention to how equality and diversity are realised and discuss this.
You pay attention to people’s word choices, attitudes, mindsets and practices, for it is often these that create and maintain inequality.
You name the practices that create inequality for what they are and aim to change them.
You let everyone talk about themselves in their own way.
You object to offensive jokes and hate speech.
You are mindful of prejudices and generalisations.
You seek to create a space in which everyone can be themselves.
You pause to think whether smaller groups are a good idea if something can be done in a larger group.
You intervene when you experience or witness bullying, harassment, discrimination or violence.
You use the name by which a person wishes to be called.
You refer to others with terms they wish to be used when referring to them.
When using languages with gender pronouns, you use the pronouns the persons involved wish to be used when referring to them.
You think about things from the perspective of those with a disability.
You recognise situations in which support or help is needed and ask if you can help, but refrain from dictating the situation from above.
You take the side of the victim and show it.
When making decisions, you listen to everyone concerned.
You do not expect everyone to hold the same ideas about home, family, relationships, etc.
You do not expect everyone to have the same idea of what constitutes good performance, a good job or a good education.
You do not use facilities and run activities based on gender without good reason.
You do not perform or define another person’s culture, identity or way of life.
You obtain information about equality and diversity.
You ask questions if you are unsure.
Plan adoption and renewal
The Viikki Teacher Training School falls under the University of Helsinki Equality and Diversity Plan, in which the University commits to promoting equality and diversity and preventing discrimination in all its operations. Read the University of Helsinki Equality and Diversity Plan.
The school has an equality committee that is appointed annually. The committee is responsible for the school’s equality and diversity planning. Everyone is welcome to attend the committee’s meetings.
The Equality and Diversity Plan will be renewed in 2021.
Disability-related information and information needs (full publication available in Finnish, with an abstract in English)
Seta Youth (only available in Finnish)
Seta’s guide for schools (only available in Finnish)
Organisation Intersex International Europe
Priority Gender Equality (Unesco)