Education institutions, which are the working environment for teachers and other education staff and the learning environment for young people, must be safe and secure to ensure the best possible situation for teaching and learning. In this context, ETUCE works to prevent discrimination in the education sector on grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation and gender. As various ETUCE studies show, discrimination persists in all dimensions of employment from recruitment procedures to remuneration and career progression, particularly in times of economic downturn.
ETUCE and its member organisations Teacher unions carry out many initiatives at EU, national and regional level to combat discrimination and/or promote diversity. For example, the ETUCE project on the prevention of cyber-harassment addressed several measures such as:
- Cooperation and Negotiation with employers to ensure that discrimination in the workplace is eliminated and that equal opportunities are promoted;
- Whole school approach
- Reporting incidents of cyber-harassment
- Teacher training
- Supporting victims of discrimination;
- Monitoring, documenting and denouncing discrimination at the workplace.
At EU level, there are two Directives setting the trend on this issue for member states and the European Commission: the Racial Equality Directive and the Employment Framework Directive. In addition, the European Commission adopted in July 2008 the Communication on Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunities linked to the Commission Decision creating a non-discrimination governmental experts group. Actions taken by the European Commission on anti-discrimination inlcude:
- improving knowledge of discrimination by raising awareness among the population of their rights and obligations and of the benefits of diversity;
- supporting social partners, NGOs and equality bodies to improve their capacity to combat discrimination;
- supporting the development of equality policies at national level and encourage the exchange of good practices between EU countries;
- assisting the organisation of anti-discrimination training activities;
Furthermore the European education ministers introduced in response to the terrorist attacks in France and in Denmark in January and February 2015 a declaration on promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education highlighting the importance of education to tackle intolerance and discrimination and promoting actions on national and European level.
In this policy area, it is also important to highlight the efforts undertaken in support of equal treatment of the Roma, the EU largest ethnic minority. Recent Roma policy developments underline the joint responsibility of European stakeholders to improve the lives of the EU's Roma citizens. With a view to develop non-discriminatory quality education for Roma children, ETUCE carried out a project (2004 – 2006) which resulted in a training manual and the ETUCE policy paper ETUCE contribution to the EU Anti-discrimination policy: special focus on ethnic and racial origin grounds.