Schools must acknowledge that Northern Ireland is a multicultural society by offering a curriculum that reflects other cultures and their history, according to a report by eight organisations concerned with ethnic minorities and children.
Race issues, including racial attacks and the murder of a Chinese businessman, came to the fore after the first IRA ceasefire in 1994. Race relations legislation was only extended to Ulster this year.
The report, Out of the Shadows, seeks to influence the local Commission for Racial Equality, set up in summer 1997.
It notes that in Britain much work has been done over the past 20 years on anti-racist strategies for the school and classroom, but that families in Northern Ireland are forced to tackle the problem themselves.
The report argues that understanding of different cultures should not depend on the presence of ethnic-minority children in schools, but should be part of the core curriculum. The report was published by four of the main ethnic minority groups along with Barnardo's, Save the Children, the Committee on the Administration of Justice and the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities.
One Asian mother said she had to move her child to another school, despite the best efforts of the head and staff. Others said that their only option was to leave the country.