The topic we will focus on in this second module is discrimination and rights for what concerns the methods to prevent radicalization in secondary schools.

Discrimination consists in that behaviour of treating a person or particular group of people differently, especially in a worse way from the way in which you treat other people, because of their skin colour, sex, sexuality, etc.

In other words we can say discrimination is treating a person unfairly because of who they are or because they possess certain characteristics.

Certainly many sources of law deal with the issue of discrimination, but here we will only analyse those ones in the geographical area of our interest, that is the European Union, then we will make a brief comparison with the main source in the British system.

In the European Union, the regulatory framework in non-discrimination has recorded numerous modifications which have contributed to the creation of a complex body of rules ensuring a broader scope for the prohibition of discrimination in Europe.

Specifically, this prohibition is established today by Article 14 and Protocol No. 12 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, by articles 10, 18 and 19 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union and by article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In addition, a series of directives has been adopted in order to protect the principle of non-discrimination and in particular we refer to Directives 2000/43/EC, 2000/78/EC, 2004/113/EC and 2006/54/EC.

Article 14 is titled “Prohibition of discrimination” and it says that

<<The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.>>

While article 21, titled “Non-discrimination”, provides that:

  1. <<Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.
  2. Within the scope of application of the Treaty establishing the European Community and of the Treaty on European Union, and without prejudice to the special provisions of those Treaties, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited.>>

Therefore, we can say that throughout the European Union any kind of discrimination is prohibited by various sources of law but indeed Equality and human rights in general cannot be defended and promoted only with legal instruments. Human rights’ education is essential to ensure that they are understood, supported and promoted by everyone.

Taking into consideration what has just been stated, the purpose of this module is to avoid or defeat any kind of discrimination in schools, providing teachers with non-formal materials and activities. This approach usually is flexible, learner-centred, contextualized and uses a participatory approach that is perfect when the final learners of the training are young people.


This module aims to make students aware of equality among people despite their differences in skin colour, clothes, accent, ways of behavior, religion etc., and therefore deserving the same rights and are held to mutual respect.

Learning objectives are:

  1. Making learners aware of the EU legal framework against discrimination;
  2. Knowing interesting aspects and curiosities about classmates from different cultures (food, music genre, dance, dresses…);
  3. Discovering ways to get along with different cultural customs.

At the end of these activities the students should have understood that the differences are a good thing and a personal enrichment and for this they must be respected.

Moreover, they should realize that equality is a fundamental right that everyone in this world must enjoy.


Discrimination does not only mean treating people differently based on certain characteristics but it can rather manifest itself in many other ways that we often don’t even think about.

Discrimination categories, according to EU law, are: (Source: Handbook on European non-discrimination law, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and Council of Europe, 2018.

Direct discrimination (EU Racial Equality Directive, art.2)

Direct discrimination is when a person is treated less favourably on the basis of ‘protected grounds’. Less favourable treatment is determined through a comparison between the alleged victim and another person who, in a similar situation, does not possess the protected characteristic.

Indirect discrimination (Racial Equality Directive, art.2)

It occurs when an apparently neutral rule disadvantages a person or a group sharing the same characteristics. It must be shown that a group is disadvantaged by a decision when compared to a comparator group.

Multiple and intersectional discrimination (ECHR, art.14 and additional Protocol No. 12)

‘Multiple discrimination’ describes discrimination that takes place on the basis of several grounds operating separately.

‘Intersectional discrimination’ describes a situation where several grounds operate and interact with each other at the same time in such a way that they are inseparable and produce specific types of discrimination.

Most often ‘multiple discrimination’ describes discrimination that takes place on the basis of several grounds operating separately, while ‘intersectional discrimination’ refers to a situation where several grounds operate and interact with each other at the same time in such a way that they are inseparable and produce specific types of discrimination.

Harassment (European Social Charter, art.26)

Harassment is a particular manifestation of direct discrimination treated separately under EU law. It features as a specific type of discrimination under the EU non-discrimination directives. It had previously been dealt with as a particular manifestation of direct discrimination. Its separation into a specific head under the directives is based more on the importance of singling out this particularly harmful form of discriminatory treatment, rather than a shift in conceptual thinking.

Special or specific measures (Racial Equality Directive, Art. 5 and EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, artt.23-26)

To ensure that everyone has equal enjoyment of rights, governments, employers and service providers may need to take special or specific measures to adapt their rules and practices to those with different characteristics.

The terms ‘special’ or ‘specific’ measures can be taken to include redressing past disadvantages suffered by those with a protected characteristic. Where this is proportionate, it may constitute a justification for differential treatment.

Hate crime

Crimes motivated by prejudice, known as hate crimes or bias-motivated crimes, affect not only the individuals targeted, but also their communities and societies as a whole.

Crimes such as threats, physical attacks, property damage or even murders motivated by intolerance towards certain groups in society are described as hate crimes or bias crimes. Hate crime can therefore be any crime that targets a person because of their perceived characteristics. The essential element distinguishing hate crimes from other crimes is the bias motive.

Hate speech

Hate speech is the advocacy of hatred based on one of the protected grounds.

It encompasses any public expressions which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred, discrimination or hostility towards a specific group. It is dangerous, as it contributes to a growing climate of intolerance against certain groups. Verbal attacks can convert into physical attacks.

Among the selected areas of protection, we must focus on Education. Under EU law, protection from discrimination in access to education was originally developed in the context of the free movement of persons, particularly directed at the children of workers. Article 14 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights guarantees the right to education and to access continuing and vocational training. The Court of Justice of the European Union’s case law relating to education concerns in particular equal access to educational institutions in another Member State and equal access to education funding.

At this point it would be interesting to compare the legal framework of the EU regarding discrimination with a national one. Here we will analyse the British one.

For what concerns UK the Equality Act is the most important source of law about the issue of discrimination.

The Equality Act 2010 highlights 9 protected characteristics:

  1. Age
  2. Gender
  3. Race
  4. Disability
  5. Religion
  6. Pregnancy and maternity
  7. Sexual orientation
  8. Gender reassignment
  9. Marriage and civil partnership

Since this module particularly concerns with discrimination in educational contexts, let us see how this can be concretely manifested.

Regarding discrimination in education or at school, specifically there are four main types:

Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination in schools is when a child is treated less favourably on the grounds of gender, disability, race, sexual orientation, religious belief or age. For example, assuming a child may not be able to reach a certain level of work because they are disabled. In these cases the act itself is unlawful, not whether or not someone meant it.

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination is when policies or practices affect a certain group of children more than others for no good reason. The groups protected by the legislation include groups defined by their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or belief, or age. When it is related to disability, reasonable adjustments should be made so that indirect discrimination does not take place.


Harassment can occur when a school engages in unwanted conduct related to a disability which has the purpose or effect of violating a pupil’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the pupil. The pupil concerned may not have a disability but might be associated with someone who has, or is wrongly perceived as having a disability.


Victimisation occurs when a school does something which is disadvantageous to a pupil because either the pupil or the pupil’s parent or sibling takes, or is thought to be about to take, action under disability discrimination law. This extends to students who are associated with a disability

In the school environment, firstly, it is the responsibility of the teachers to supervise not to make discriminations against the pupils, and they and the rest of the school staff must be the first to avoid treating students with different characteristics differently.

Beyond the legal context in which discrimination occurs, the most important thing is that the victim reacts and knows which tools do exist.

If a national authority violates the Charter of Fundamental Rights when implementing EU law, national judges (under the guidance of the European Court of Justice) have the power to ensure that the Charter is respected.

All EU countries must designate a national equality body responsible for promoting equal treatment. These bodies must provide independent assistance to the victims of discrimination conduct surveys and studies publish independent reports and recommendations.


Non-formal education can be summarized with the “learning by doing” formula, so let us see now some activities that teachers can propose to their students in order to make them seen the multiculturalism that exists in the classroom as an added value for them and society.

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Coordinator – Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo Danilo Dolci – Italy