Meet BoMoVu, which we support witihin the scope of our Disruptive Approaches in Education Fund!
This interview was previously published, by the Support for Civil Society Foundation.
In an interview with the Support Foundation for Civil Society, BoMoVu Project Coordinator Samet Saygı, he talked about how issues such as racism and discrimination are handled in the Turkish education system and the Anti-Racist Pedagogy project.
Can you tell us about the founding purpose of BoMoVu and your work? Have you had to make changes in your priority areas and/or the way you work during the pandemic?
Since our establishment in 2016, we have developed a total of 9 different resources, including activities and pedagogical approach tools that teachers can implement one-on-one with children, in order to live together and be inclusive societies, with our methodology based on bodily rights and freedoms. These can be grouped under three main headings:
1) Resources to improve the border and other perceptions of children living in border areas. ( One of the supporters of the Play for Peace project was the Support Foundation for Civil Society.)
2) The tools we have developed to address the inactivity in schools restricting children's ability to learn and their right to act. (Movement at School – We are the carrier of Nike's global project, together with the Education Reform Initiative (ERG))
3) Teachers' workshops and tools aiming to see children exposed to racism in schools with anti-racist pedagogical tools and to create mechanisms to support them. (Anti-Racist Pedagogy project)
In addition to these, the Dance I Care tool, which helps young people in Turkey and Germany with and without a migration background to exercise their “cultural agency”, is another resource we developed as part of Anadolu Kültür 's All Together project.
Like many associations, our digital work has greatly increased with the COVID-19 outbreak and the accompanying measures to stay at home. Our work has diversified with online teacher workshops, motion videos, activity books for children and online activities with them, and online activities for teachers.
Are issues such as racism and discrimination handled within the education system in Turkey? Why is it important that these issues become a part of the education system and that the awareness of different stakeholders (teachers, students, parents) of the education field is increased?
The issues of racism and discrimination are unfortunately not included in the education system in Turkey, and school environments are the places where racism is produced most intensely. The students, to whom the racist discourses in the course content are conveyed, normalize the racism and racism shapes the relations of the students with each other.
Because racism can take various forms and can be normalized in human relations, it is often invisible to those who have not been exposed to racism. For those exposed to racism, it is experienced in very devastating ways. Of course, the group that suffers the most from racism is children. The teachers who participated in the workshops we held talked a lot about how emotionally negatively affected children who are exposed to racism in the school environment are. In the light of the data we collected from the teachers, we have analyzed the physical and emotional negativities experienced by children exposed to racism in an article. We also transformed. Being exposed to racism adversely affects children's educational life; It also harms children in many other ways, such as self-confidence, self-perception, body image, and sense of justice. Contrary to popular belief, the number of children exposed to racism by their peers, teachers, and administrators is quite high. For these reasons, the issues of racism and discrimination should definitely turn into one of the principles of the education system. As it should be included in all course curricula, all stakeholders in the education system should be provided with anti-racist training.
As an association, our goal is to raise awareness against racism in teachers, and – even more importantly – to empower students who are exposed to racism. To ensure that students who are exposed to racism realize what they are doing and that the reason for their passivity in the classroom is not their personal inadequacies, with our activities that will enable all students to participate in the classroom environment and to talk about racism in different ways.
In order for school culture to become environments that embrace various differences, the entire institutional structure must be reshaped on the basis of anti-racism. Awareness of school administrators, teachers, servants, and of course students should be increased against racism cases in schools. In addition, a procedure should be determined institutionally against racist cases in schools and these procedures should be applied in the approach and interventions to the cases, because we think that the cases of racism in the school environment should not be left to personal initiatives. In addition, cooperation should be made with parents against racist rhetoric and behaviors that children learn and bring from outside of school. Even parent education should be given by the school. Developing sensitivity towards racism by everyone from the institutional structure of the school to all stakeholders will make the educational environment more efficient and each student will develop a sense of institutional belonging. Most importantly, there will be no students who have problems throughout their lives due to exposure to racism.
Could you tell us about the purpose of the Anti-Racist Pedagogy project and your work so far?
The Anti-Racist Pedagogy project is an anti-racist educational tool for children developed by BoMoVu. This project started with sub-grant support from the European Union of the Watch for Equal Rights Association as part of the Equality Forum between September 2019 and May 2020.
The Anti-Racist Pedagogy project consists of a guide and teacher awareness workshops made available to teachers and all people working with children. Thanks to these workshops, a public, online report was published, highlighting the unique experiences of teachers in the classroom environment and revealing the situation of racism and cultural discrimination in schools.
The Anti-Racist Pedagogy project has been transferred to a group of at least 30 teachers working in schools in Istanbul's regions where ethnic-cultural diversity is higher so far. Bringing together the teachers participating in these workshops also provided an important area. Creating communication and solidarity between children and teachers who apply educational materials in their own classrooms is also one of the contributions of the project.
Racism in Education?” held in May 2021. Experts from Germany and Turkey came together to share their perspectives and experiences on racism at the online conference called racism. Could you tell us about the similarities and differences between the practices in Turkey and Germany in terms of the way racism is handled in education?
Germany is experiencing a period of serious self-criticism on the detection of various cracks in the education system that will create discrimination. Such issues are considered important by the state, especially thanks to the fact that he has undertaken his own genocidal past, taken responsibility, and carried out memory studies. Associations and initiatives working on this issue are supported by the state. For this reason, the number of people working on discrimination and racism in Germany is much higher than in Turkey. Both the state support and incentives and the high number of employees in this field show that more effective projects are carried out in the field of education on racism and discrimination. In addition to these, the fact that Germany accepts that the country has a racism problem also affects more studies in this field.
The main problem in Turkey stems from the fact that there is no racism problem in the country. For this reason, associations working on racism are not supported by the state, they are prevented in various ways or they are not allowed to work in schools. Because of these circumstances, Germany has more data on its own experience with racism in education. Due to these difficulties, there are no serious studies on how widespread racism in education and how diverse its manifestations are in Turkey. For this reason, those working in this field do not have enough data. While the studies on racism in education in Germany have a longer history than in Turkey and the employees in educational institutions have awareness on this issue, it is not possible to say the same for Turkey.
With our grant support, you will work to spread the Anti-Racist Pedagogy project to a wider audience. What kind of activities do you plan to carry out during this period of the project?
In this period of the project, we want to increase the number of online workshops in order to reach more teachers. We also want to develop printed materials for teachers that they can use without being dependent on digital. As I mentioned in my previous answer, such tools are not sufficient in Turkey, we can even say that this field is in need of study and enrichment. We intend to contribute to this field with various translations. These translations will be disseminated to a wide network of teachers in various provinces of Turkey. We will even support some of these teachers to hold their own anti-racist education meetings. At the same time, we plan to run social media campaigns to reach more people. We think that one of the contributions of these campaigns will be to increase the visibility of these concepts.