Being a Leader for Social Justice in Education

A fair access to education is expressed in the minimization of dependence on the opportunities to enter the educational institution from a social origin and in maximizing dependence on the abilities and efforts of pupils. However, often, it becomes only a formal legal right, which is not confirmed by a real practice, owing to the unequal opportunities for education and the actual manifestation of a social inequality in the system of education. Education and social policy make a mutual impact on each other. Thus, the realization of social justice in education depends on the extent of the state’s participation in the salvation of this problem, a contribution of social movements into a formulation of a social policy and public recognition of education as the consequences of social injustice.

Summary of Social Justice Issues

Social justice and equity are the most ancient social ideas and ideals; they pass through the whole history of mankind. The human nature is brightly expressed in the struggle for social justice and equity. As justice and equity problems are inseparable from each other in public life, they are often confused though each of these concepts has a special sense and content. Social justice and social equity are the objective qualities of the social forms of public communications. Social communications represent a set of all relations of people as social beings (they include economic, political, ideological, family and moral relations), which they meet making a human history. Therefore, both social justice and social equity can take place in the most various spheres of public life, in particular, in education. Due to of the fact that social injustice, as a rule, was rather notable, obvious for the majority of the exploited workers, social equity requirements, in many cases, were not only much more actual  but also (frequently without the due basis) were identified with the social justice requirement causing the erroneous belief in identity of social equity and social justice.

Determination of discrimination is one of the problems which legislators, scientists, public people face when there is a violation of rights and interests connected with any sign or status of a person. Discrimination or social inequality in education appears in refusal to the applicant to be enrolled into an educational institution; at advanced training and promotion on a higher post; by granting of the rights of equal access to education and legal proceedings realization; at the realization of rights to social protection and human rights. Social inequality is the inequality of the statuses following both from the ability of individuals to carry out this or that social role and from the opportunities allowing people to achieve this or that position in society (possession of property, capital, origin, belonging to the influential political forces).

Impact of Social Justice Issue on Education

Education is a specially organized system of the external conditions created in society for the development of a person. A specially organized educational system includes teaching and educational institutions, professional development and retraining of personnel establishments. There is the acquisition and transfer of the experience of generations according to the purposes, programs, structures, and specially trained teachers. All educational institutions in the state are united in a uniform education system by means of human development management.

Social injustice among children in poverty is one of the urgent social issues. The problem of children’s poverty in the world is widespread and concerns not only small unprotected social groups. The financial position influences not only self-respect among adult people but also an intellectual development and health of their children. The important role is played by welfare and a social status, which promote the development of a child. If parents have money, children have an excellent education, health and social status. Poverty, on the contrary, causes a continuous physiological stress, a fall of working memory, bad progress and behavior in a kindergarten and school.

Social justice in education for students with disabilities or invalids has its specific character. The system of education serves the interests of a dominating group reducing the intensity created by small ethnic groups. All societies give certain statuses to individuals irrespective of their abilities and opportunities. Other statuses are reached by a choice and competition. Societies make youth selection for the positions and the professions demanding special talents. The institute of education carries out this function. Issuing diplomas and certificates, it defines who of young people will get access to the power, prestigious positions and statuses.

Education substantially raises the possibilities of ascension on a social scale. It concerns both ordinary people and people with disabilities. It is obvious that there are a number of contradictions caused by the clashing interests, receptions of the hidden and obvious resistance to the law, collision of traditions and innovations in the relations between the state and students with disabilities, as well as other social actors. In the legislation and practices of its realization, there is the ideology of a certain policy of disability which reflects a degree of sequence, systematization in the actions of the government and the depth of understanding of social instead of individual reasons of disability.

Educational Policy

At present, there are the following tendencies in the system of education:

  • There is the process of commercialization occurring at all education levels.
  • There is the process of regionalization of educational institutions connected with the emergence of the regional centers and self-reproduction of the regional elite bringing to a regional inequality.
  • There is the process of differentiation of higher education institutions with the subsequent division on “prestigious” and “not prestigious” appearing in regions.

Education is almost inaccessible for people from the lower-income layers and children from the rural areas owing to the impossibility to attend training courses and incur expenses on training, transport, accommodation, etc. The competition among higher education institutions for the students existing conditions does not promote balancing the chances of different social groups’ representatives to graduate from the higher education institutions according to their knowledge, not income and social status. Thus, there is the tendency of “the economic capital” promoting deepening of the social inequality.

Another vital problem of the social justice in education is that social prestige of the scholastic profession falls. There is no social protection of educators. It leads to a sharp teaching deterioration. In general, the majority of school teachers connect social stability and well-being of school staff with social equity. Low degree of the formed emotive level of political valuable orientation for social equity is observed among teachers, both having higher education and vocational trainings. Teachers with average income are guided by valuable social equity. Behavioral level of city teachers is twice weaker than this of teachers living in the village. Village teachers act as defenders of social equity as there is communication anonymity in the village, and strong social control of community over people’s behavior is of great value. Therefore, it is impossible to live in the country breaking this principle.

Diversity should be applied as an educational policy for the improvement of social justice issue. The diversity of teachers is expressed in freedom of actions (within the given system) in comparison with “diversity” among pupils. Teachers define what to learn and how to learn. “The teacher’s system” organizes school life: schedule, school events, etc. Pupils organize their activity in the given system only on the basis of the “diversity” organized by the teacher for them. The diversity of teachers is subordinated to a variety of higher systems, which decide what to bring into the program. The given program defines that range of a teacher’s activity in which he shows his own diversity. The system of pupil’s diversity is even lower in the given hierarchy. A range of pupil’s diversity in this system is established by a teacher, and it is narrower for a teacher (within the interaction system “teacher – pupil”). A teacher decides how to present this program organizing and directing the activity of the controlled system.

The diversity of teachers is a true asset for learning. A diversity of pedagogical education is multiplied and increases in all its displays. At the same time, pedagogical education develops fuller finding out laws and general tendencies. The most important of them are: conditionality of pedagogical educational development by historical, political and social context; preservation of national traditions and customs in training of a teacher; influence of modern pedagogical ideas (integration, professionalism), etc.

Potential Barriers and Solutions

In order to solve the problem of social justice in education, it is necessary to make a plan how to overcome all the barriers and take the necessary measures. Thus, special attention should be paid to the factors responsible for the potential transition of a family from the level of casual poverty to the level of constant poverty and vice versa. Due to the potentially cruel consequences of poverty in the childhood on a child’s development, it is extremely important to have a better understanding of the reasons why some families become chronically poor.

It is also important how poverty influences the level of mutual aid of families and communities in children protection, as well as on the changes in the attitude to children. The families in the conditions of poverty are compelled to make the decisions necessary for physical survival, which certainly undermines the well-being of children. It is insufficiently known how the strategy of family survival affects children, and what types of help can prevent the negative consequences. Therefore, in order to solve the problem of social justice in education, it is necessary to eliminate the problem of poverty.

As for the problem of social justice in education of students with disabilities, it meets a number of problems connected with the reformation of the education system and social policy in relation to students with disabilities. However, there is no regulatory base of inclusion of students with disabilities into the system of higher education; the policy of higher education institutions in the majority of the world countries is uncoordinated, as well as programs of social and psychological rehabilitation of students with disabilities.

The policy concerning the students with disabilities in the USA has a long history, and it was formed unevenly from the point of view of its ideology, structure and content. The social policy concerning the students with disabilities has had a compensatory character till 2004 when the measures were reduced to the provision of the monetary payments and services. The radical restructuring of political institutes of the American society stimulated the adoption of Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), officially fixed the purposes of state policy concerning the students with disabilities, new concepts of disability and rehabilitation of disabled students, changes in the institutional basis of the policy. The purpose of the state policy is to help a student with disabilities have equal possibilities with other citizens in the realization of civil, economic, political and educational rights and freedoms provided by the US Constitution. However, the political and ideological bases of differentiation of the reasons and “groups” of disability and statuses corresponding to them, and an attitude to students with disabilities as to the social minorities needing special conditions and services, rehabilitation and integration still remained.

The inclusion of individuals with disabilities in schools, workplaces, and communities is now common due to federal legislation such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This legislation has provided people with disabilities full and equal access to education, employment, transportation, and telecommunications thereby increasing contact individuals without disabilities have with those with disabilities. Of course, legislation alone cannot force one to accept individuals who demonstrate different abilities (Rice, 2009).

Call to Action

Two main types of initiatives can help reduce children’s poverty and thus eliminate a social injustice in education. The national strategy of poverty reduction emphasizes that the macroeconomic growth should be the main means of struggle against poverty and improvement of the position of children through the increase of the standard of living of their families. Thus, it is necessary to be convinced that the economic growth is really directed at the improvement of provision of poor segments of the population meaning that the measures directed at the regional development, creation of workplaces, development of medium and small business, and support of small farms should be among the priorities. It is necessary to increase the financing of the key social services (health care, education, social protection), which depend on the obligations of the international communities and state governments.

The second row of initiatives is concentrated on the separately taken children, frequently from certain social groups, such as “street children” or “risk families”. These initiatives use the methods of social work. They provide financial, practical, social and emotional support for such children and families, and, as a rule, such actions have a small scale. It is the main approach of NGOs and governmental social workers. Despite the fact that similar work has a huge practical value for families in poverty, it should be considered only as a part of the developed system of actions necessary for the struggle against children’s poverty. However, if a social work becomes the main tool of this struggle, the vision of children’s poverty as a problem of separately taken families having difficulties (“risk families”) prevails, and, consequently, the public attention will be abstract from the need of economic and social capital investments.

Accomplishing the institutional change needed by children in poverty requires greater social forces than poverty programs themselves generate. The problems of compensatory education are political problems. Their long-term solution involves social alliances whose outlines are still, at best, emerging. Yet work on education can be one of the ways these very alliances are created (Connell, 1994).

The guarantees of ensuring availability of higher education for students with disabilities can be divided into two groups: special rights and privileges for students with disabilities at the receipt in the highest professional educational institutions; special guarantees of availability of higher education for students with disabilities in higher education institutions. In this regard, higher education of students with disabilities is implemented according to two scenarios. In the first case, a student with a disability has the status of an ordinary student obtaining higher education. The positive sides of a similar situation are connected more likely with the moral point of view: it is a question of the attitude to students with disabilities, as well as to all other students, respect of a human dignity and partnership. At the same time, at such succession of events, many students with disabilities are excluded of the educational process owing to the impracticality of a high school educational space to their features.

In the second case, a student with disabilities has the status of not only student but also a person with disabilities in a higher educational institution. It is reflected in curricula, teaching methods, calculations of loading and features of the timetable of the higher educational institution, as well as in that range of services and adaptations of a high school environment, which allow a student with disabilities to be trained in the integrated environment, enter a higher education institution, have an access to a special equipment and library. Professional rehabilitation allows a student with disabilities to restore competitiveness on a labor market; it also creates a basis for equal opportunities and social justice.

 

The world system of education became one of the main indicators of social differentiation. Society lost educational system rather democratic and available to all social groups. The possibility of receiving qualitative education by each member of the world society is only theoretical, not confirmed in reality. The educational system in modern world society, owing to its commercialization, gains more and more closed character. It is necessary to accept the fact of social inequality in education.

A gradual alignment of the quality of education and increase of social justice in education can be provided by the consecutive control over the implementation of the educational standards by means of examination mechanisms; implementation of the program of restructuring of rural schools and creations of school districts; emergence of the basic schools for higher education institutions in rural areas and small cities; formation of university complexes on the basis of higher education institutions and professional schools and special educational institutions for students with disabilities, etc.
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About the Author

Luna Griffin is aspecialist in English literature at the Orlando University and longtime work as a writer at https://writer-elite.com – essay writing services that provide all students with any types of written assignments in all disciplines. She always wanted to become a writer and publish a book that will become a new contribution to the literature. She started career as an English Tutor after which she started to show interest in child psychology research. She is currently working on a variety of topics related to studying the state of modern education.