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Introducing the AISA DEIJ Guide: Pathways to Transformation

By Chanel Worsteling
Introducing the AISA DEIJ Guide: Pathways to Transformation

"Pathways to Transformation - A Guide to Unlocking the Power and Potential of International Schools Grounded in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, [DEIJ] and Belonging" is a comprehensive DEIJ Guide for educators and administrators who are committed to creating inclusive and equitable learning environments for all students.

Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA), along with numerous schools and organizations within the international school community, was motivated by the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 to deeply assess our dedication to nurturing DEIJ within ourselves and our collective schools. Knowing we needed to do more, AISA embarked on the ambitious project to develop a comprehensive online resource for international schools to assist them on their journey toward greater diversity, inclusivity, equity, and justice. From the very start, we recognized that accomplishing this task would require a community of dedicated and passionate individuals committed to driving change. Over 30 leaders and educators joined us in this effort, devoting their time and passion to this project, ultimately for the benefit of international schools worldwide.

The primary objective of this resource is to offer practical guidance to schools in their endeavour to become exemplars of DEIJ and foster a sense of belonging. Its emphasis lies in providing actionable strategies (how) rather than delving into the rationale (why). The guide leverages the lived experiences of various contributors who have confronted injustice and spearheaded systemic transformations within their own schools and communities. It presents concrete examples that are intended to inspire ideas for implementing positive change within your own school and community.

The DEIJ Guide is organized into eight sections:

  1. First Steps inaugurates the journey by underscoring the significance of self-reflection and self-awareness in cultivating inclusive environments. It also provides an understanding of DEIJ within an African context and invites the reader to consider how DEIJ might be grounded in your specific context.
  1. Strategic Thinking provides insight into integrating DEIJ at a strategic level, touching upon governance, leadership, community engagement, and human resource practices that foster a DEIJ-oriented atmosphere within your school.
  1. Teaching & Learning pivots the focus towards the school environment, curriculum design, the role of the classroom teacher, and innovative teaching strategies that encourage and support DEIJ.
  1. Supporting Students and Staff focuses on empowering students and staff, ensuring their wellbeing, and extending support to students with diverse gender and sexual identities. It also prioritizes the mental health of staff, cultivating a healthy and nurturing work environment.
  1. Critical Issues delves into areas that intersect with DEIJ such as women in leadership, service learning, and child protection. It also considers the importance of professional learning, especially for locally hired staff, as well as how schools might create a culture of belonging for individuals with diverse genders and sexualities.
  1. Case Studies offers real-world exemplars, illustrating practical applications of DEIJ principles.
  1. Tools and Templates is an ever-growing section that provides practical “how to” resources such as policy templates, assessment tools and inclusive language guide.
  1. DEIJ Partners showcases how our international education partners are also working to encourage and foster a greater commitment to DEIJ principals in our schools.

The Inner and Outer Journey

However, the task of establishing schools that embody genuine diversity, equity, inclusivity, and justice in their values and programs demands more than mere compliance with a predefined set of standards. It is incumbent upon all of us to shoulder the responsibility of fostering a culture of authentic inclusivity, where everyone is embraced and empowered. This requires that we each examine our beliefs, values, and attitudes, enabling substantive cultural transformation to complement structural changes.

AISA's "Pathways to Transformation" guide is a valuable "living" resource for international schools, developed to sign post a way forward for you and your school. There is no one way to do this work, and each school community will need to find their unique path forward. It is our radical dream that by utilizing the strategies and resources provided in this guide, schools will be able to effectively promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, and foster a sense of belonging for all students and educators.

Read the "Pathways to Transformation - A Guide to Unlocking the Power and Potential of International Schools Grounded in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, [DEIJ] and Belonging" DEIJ guide. 

Chanel Worsteling is the Wellbeing for All Program Coordinator for AISA.


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