Daniel Schugurensky, Department of Adult Education, Community Development and Counselling Psychology
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)

Questions and Answers on Adult Education

Edited by Daniel Schugurensky

This site includes questions and answers on Adult Education that were written by students in the course 'Outline of Adult Education' at OISE/UT. The questions are first raised in class by the students themselves. Then they organize in teams in order to research and answer them. New entries are added regularly. This website is intended to provide information about the field to new students and to those who have a general interest in Adult Education. Anyone is welcome to submit a question and/or answer.


What are the main features and challenges of anti-racist education?

 By Suzanne Fredericks, Vaughn Robertson-Lyon, Patricia Robinson

            Dei (1995) identifies anti-racist education as an action-oriented strategy for institutional systemic change, aimed at addressing the issues of racism and the interlocking systems of social oppression. He argues that anti-racist education moves beyond a narrow preoccupation with individual prejudices and discriminatory actions, to the examination of the ways in which racist ideas and individual actions are entrenched and unconsciously supported in institutional structures (Dei, 1995, p. 13). He further argues that for one to be able to fully understand anti-racism and be able to teach it, the process must begin with a critical examination of the economic, political, social, and ideological processes and structures within our society. Anti-racist education combines gaining a sense of how to use this knowledge with “having the political will to work for social transformation in order to eradicate the inequitable distributions of power and resources” (Dei, 1994, p. 290).

            This social transformation can be accomplished through an integrative anti racism strategy in which participants learn to appreciate how the dynamics of social difference (race, class, gender, and sexual orientation) are mediated in people’s daily lives (Dei, 1994, p. 292). The adult educator in post secondary education facilities and in workplace settings is well positioned to begin to eradicate societal oppression and inequity through anti-racist education.  Barbara Thomas (1984) identifies five conditions the adult educator must meet for anti-racist education to facilitate significant social transformation: 1) creating a safe environment where issues of injustice can be critically examined from all perspectives. 2) studying people’s lived experiences with racism and their survival strategies. 3) providing opportunities for all to develop skills for acting on the conditions that oppress. 4) engaging both those who experience racism and those who are members of the dominant culture in an examination of how people resist racism. 5) challenging racism through informed collective action.

            Thomas (1984) also recognizes that there will be resistance to the implementation of an anti-racist education by members of the dominant culture. She states “ people who benefit from current power relations are not likely to be in the fore front changing those power relations” (Thomas, 1984, p.23). Other challenges to be faced include the lack of clear and agreed upon terminology (Fyfe, 1993, p. 45). Dei (1994) states that the terms race, racism, ethnicity, and ethnic boundaries can be interpreted and analyzed differently. Also, the roots of racism lie beyond the control of schools. Gains achieved by formal education alone would be limited. Political and individual will to support change initiatives is required. Anti-racist education needs to be viewed as beneficial to all – economically, socially, and morally. Comprehensive programs in elementary, and post secondary schools and in the workplace are required for effective anti-racist transformation. Finally, race cannot be given priority over other inequities (Dei, 1994, p. 293). All areas of oppression must be included in an anti-racist education agenda.


Dei, G.S.J. (1994). Reflections of an anti-racist pedagogue. (1994). In L. Erwin & D. MacLennan (Eds.), Sociology of education in Canada (pp.290-310). Copp Clark Pitman.

Dei, G. S. J. (1995). Intersections of race, class, and gender. Race, Gender, and Class, 2, 3, pp. 11 – 30.

            Fyfe, A., & Figueroa, P. (Eds.). (1993). Education for Cultural Diversity: The challenge for a new era. London: Routledge.

            Thomas, B. (1984). Principles of Anti-Racist Education. Currents, 2, pp. 20 – 24.

April 2001

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