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Article

Rather than being viewed as incompatible or polar opposites, special education and inclusive education can be seen as equally important components of effective education systems that produce optimal outcomes for all learners. The same can be said for equity and excellence, as a focus on equity should be combined with measures to promote excellence for all learners in order to optimize overall outcomes. Alternatively, emphasizing either special education or inclusive education, to the exclusion of the other, within education systems will jeopardize both equity and excellence and lead to less than optimal educational achievement. Having an education system with a balance of both special education and inclusive education, however, within a comprehensive service delivery model, will result in superior educational outcomes. Clearly, there needs to be a synthesis of key components of special education and inclusive education in order to provide an equitable and excellent education for all learners, including those with special educational needs and disabilities.

Article

Martin Mwongela Kavua

Educational reforms have been made from time to time since independence in Kenya. These reforms have been effected through commissions of education in the context of the country. Among education commissions that have steered reforms in Kenya are the Kenya Education Commission, the National Commission on Education Objectives and Policy, the Presidential Working Party on the Second University, the Commission of Inquiry into the Educational System of Kenya, and the Taskforce on the Realignment of the Sector to the New System. The main challenges facing the education sector have been issues of access, equity, quality, relevance, availability of educational resources, and efficiency in managing them. Moreover, the education system has been blamed for some of the challenges in the education sector, necessitating system change from the 8+4+4 to the 2+6+3+3+3 system. Challenges facing education reforms include inconsistency in carrying out reforms fueled by lack of a guiding philosophical framework, a top-down decision-making process, limited backing for inclusive education in policy, and curriculum-based challenges. Going forward, a bottom-up approach to education reforms, an evidence-based decision-making for reforms in education, and an implementation of inclusive education may play a significant role in reforming the education system.

Article

Efforts to support education for all students have increasingly become priorities for governments around the world. Key international agreements, including the Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, have provided foundational direction to jurisdictions in implementing policies to engage all students including those with special education needs. As initiatives to support equitable and inclusive education for all become more widespread globally, it is important to consider how these efforts affect economically wealthy countries. Using the example of Canada, and specifically the province of Ontario, implications of supporting education for all through the framework of inclusive education are examined. These implications include funding, teaching commitment and training, resources, and privatization. Inclusive education refers to the ability of all students, regardless of gender, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, or ability, to attend their neighborhood community school and be in classes with similar aged peers. Students with special education needs, whether these be learning disabilities, visual or hearing disorders, or mental health disorders, among many other conditions, are key stakeholders in inclusive education. The conclusion raises important questions for future research to examine inclusive education and the parallel implications not only in economically wealthy countries but for all jurisdictions that are trying to initiate and support educational programs for all students.

Article

Social justice (SJ) is not a “newly discussed” issue. It has made a mark on the history of humanity. It was one of the most frequently discussed concerns of earlier religious and philosophical traditions for both their own context and other contexts around the world. Almost all disciplines, including philosophy, politics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and education, have been in search of a just world for people and have tried to find an answer to the question of what a socially just society is. Social justice has been a debated issue on the agendas of educational researchers, too. Similar to other fields, research on social justice in education has been attempting to describe and analyze its meaning and nature in educational settings. Educational researchers have made significant efforts to provide a definition of social justice in schools and to open the black box of social justice delivered to schools. In education, social justice, in short, may be seen as a fact directly related to providing equal opportunities for everyone in schools regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, social class, wealth, gender, family structure, sexual orientation, disability, and so on. This urges school leaders to be aware of their central roles and responsibilities in terms of justice issues in their schools, and this makes it very clear that a just school depends on leaders believing in social justice. In other words, school leaders and their efforts to create a just school have explicit effects on justice issues in schools.

Article

Challenges to Mexican educational leadership and equity fundamentally have to do with class struggle and shaping the national identity to conform to one of two competing narratives: México as a country that strives to ensure its place in the first world, subordinating itself to the demands of external bodies and forgoing its own history; or México as a country that sustains and advances its historical struggle for social justice. México’s democratic teachers represent an important voice of educational leadership, as they struggle for educational equity for their students and through active resistance to reforms that rob teachers of their labor rights and intellectual autonomy, and rob students of their rights to the vast epistemological resources that their languages, history, culture, and identity represent. Facing new forms of colonialism that neoliberal education reform ushered in, the teachers fight in contested space that the Mexican curriculum is; they do so with renewed commitments to defeat education reform efforts that have more to do with the restructuring of their labor rights than the education of children in the classroom.

Article

The question of what teachers should know and be able to do endures, given the central role teachers play in the development of young people into wise and contributing citizens for world societies. Research has demonstrated the relationship between teacher preparation and competence, and that quality teachers achieve better academic outcomes for learners. Moreover, the issue of quality teachers has become even more salient in the 21st century as forces of globalization blur boundaries, heightening both competition and cooperation among nations. These forces include: (a) massive global migration as a result of war and other political disruptions, such that countries around the world are receiving newcomers, many of whom are school-aged and bring with them new cultures and languages; (b) increased attention to human rights, with a focus on inclusion, equity, poverty reduction, and social uplift for all children, regardless of their circumstance or backgrounds, through universal education; and (c) international benchmarking assessments such as PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) that are driving international conversations about quality education and educators. The demands on teachers have increased, and definitions of quality emphasize the ability to capably teach children who represent multiple diversities (race, language, national origin, gender identities) and multiple vulnerabilities (poverty, dis/ability, immigrant status). Preparing teachers for diverse students has long been relevant to the U.S. given its history as a country of immigrants, juxtaposed against a devastating legacy of enslavement, genocide, and imperialism. But the 1970s was when educators began to more seriously attend to educating diverse children who had been uniformly ignored because of racism, discrimination, and segregation. This was on the heels of civil rights legislature, activism on the part of people of color, people with disabilities, and indigenous people for better schools for their children, and large waves of immigration from Latin America and Asia, versus primarily European countries as in the past. As the proportion of non-white students increased in U.S. schools, preparing teachers for diversity became imperative, especially since the majority of teachers were white, and the achievement gap between mainstream children and diverse children remained stubbornly wide. Researchers also documented the inequities diverse learners faced in schools—poorly funded schools, less qualified teachers, limited access to academic curriculum, excessive disciplinary practices, and so on—as well as the teaching practices that made a positive difference in the educational experiences and achievements of diverse children. These included Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CRP), meaningful learning that honors diverse students’ culture and communities, high academic standards supported by excellent teachers, and multiple access points into the curriculum. The solution to inequitable education requires that all teachers instruct and advocate for every student as if she or he mattered, that all students receive the same care and attention as the richest, most advantaged. This solution is deceptively simple because it requires teachers to examine and revise their own biases and misconceptions, and actively resist the persistent messages that depict diverse children as deficient, so as to see them as worthwhile, full of capacity, and on the brink of greatness.

Article

Kristiina Brunila, Elina Ikävalko, Tuuli Kurki, Ameera Masoud, Katariina Mertanen, Anna Mikkola, and Kalle Mäkelä

The ethos of vulnerability plays a central role in shaping cross-sectoral youth transition policies and their implementations. Despite good intentions, the ethos of vulnerability emphasizes personal accountability and stigmatization. This is the situation in Finland, where young people tend to be recognized through the prism of inherent vulnerability, with a parallel notion of the self that is damaged and fragile. This “turn inward” to the self does not necessarily help to see problems as societal but as individual, which may perpetuate systematic inequalities.

Article

Maria Estela Brisk and Yalda M. Kaveh

Multilingual classrooms are becoming the norm in the global North due to the constant shifting of populations. Yet most of the instruction still tends to be in the major or official language of the country. Teachers find themselves in educational contexts that instruct in one language to multilingual populations with varying degrees of language proficiency. In this new world order, teachers need to be prepared to work with bi/multilingual students in ways that enhance students’ chances of succeeding in school by acquiring a new language, learning the content of various disciplines, and developing a healthy bi/multilingual and bi/multicultural identity. Teachers prepared to work with students from language backgrounds different from the school language make an effort to know their students, understand bilingualism and second language learning, and know the disciplines they teach and the language needed to express the content of the disciplines. These teachers are capable of creating quality curriculum, classroom environments, and instruction that supports learning, regardless of students’ proficiency in the language of instruction. The recommended knowledge-base and instructional approaches for these kinds of contexts are an opportunity to reform schools to be aligned to the reality of 21st-century schools.

Article

Stephen Crump, Kylie Twyford, and Theresa Koroivulaono

Remote and rural education is a resonating issue worldwide, given the new and emerging capabilities of digitization to reduce barriers of distance, time, and space, particularly for Oceania. Issues based on achieving equitable educational access and participation that ameliorates the disadvantages for many students in remote and rural locations of Australasia and the Pacific, compared to those in urban classrooms, are pertinent. Nonetheless, students in remote and rural locations also show great resilience and have built up a trove of informal knowledge from the demands of daily life requiring a high degree of independence and maturity. This is evident in the distance education School of the Air in Australia, the University of the South Pacific, and the Marshall Islands College in the North Pacific. These sites provide insights into strength-based reform strategies intended to improve rural and remote education and training and, consequently, work and life choices.

Article

Austin R. Cruz

Land education from an Indigenous perspective can be understood as the learning of deep social, political, ethical, and spiritual relationships on and with land. By extension, the approach of land-as-pedagogy applies the understanding that the primary and ultimate teacher is the very land itself. Land education offers scholars and students a nuanced, culturally responsive, and responsible critique of the notion of place and field of place-based education, particularly with regard to historically minoritized students and communities such as Indigenous peoples throughout the world. Building from Indigenous scholarship and drawing connections between global examples of Indigenous relationships to land, the educational implications of land education and land-as-pedagogy compel everyone involved in enacting curricula and pedagogy to center such ideas into all learning irrespective of academic “subject” or discipline. By acknowledging where events, relationships, experiences, and understanding happen, communities and learners are afforded the opportunity to reassess and reaffirm the ontological and epistemological basis that all knowledge is contextualized and that contextualization starts with/in land. Examples of the positive educational outcomes of such curricular, pedagogical, administrative, and educational policy change around land include the affirmation and strengthening of Indigenous peoples’ sovereignty, self-determination, and self-education, as well as the larger enculturation of non-Indigenous learners to more applied, reflexive, and explicit alliances and interdependencies with land and other communities. Repositioning land education and land-as-pedagogy from a marginal to central place within formal and informal education initiates the logical consequence and responsibility of such pedagogy: the complex, ethical, and historically informed process of Indigenous land repatriation.

Article

The United States and other developed countries have acknowledged and supported the rights of students with disabilities to receive an appropriate education for decades. The role of the principal and school leader in overseeing educational programs and ensuring these entitlements become a reality for students with disabilities has taken center stage. Discussions related to principals and school leaders fulfilling the roles of leader and manager on behalf of students with disabilities linked the complementary disciplines of general and special education leadership. The leadership approach they adopted led to debates surrounding the concept of inclusion and the provision of an inclusive education on behalf of students with disabilities. Current definitions of inclusive education are typically linked to concepts of equity, social justice, and recognition of the student’s civil right to be granted full membership in all aspects of the educational enterprise. The processes involved in creating an inclusive school environment require principals and school leaders to examine the values and beliefs that influence their own thinking and behaviors before they can communicate a vision of inclusion. Principals and school leaders must be willing to act in concert with others to create the type of school culture that unanimously and positively responds to difference so every student can achieve full membership and feel welcomed and valued.

Article

The words diversity and multiculturalism are ubiquitous in the contemporary educational lexicon. They are certainly hallmarks in many educational conversations. Recent trials, tribulations, and triumphs in the areas of diversity and multiculturalism are not without historical context or educational precedent. The evolution of diversity and multiculturalism in the United States has been and continues to be a struggle. The lofty language that is immortalized in the United States Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance promises all U.S. citizens the right to life, liberty, safety, happiness, and so forth. However, this promise has not always been kept for all U.S. citizens. The full recognition of one’s rights in the United States has depended on one’s race/ethnicity, gender, social class, religious beliefs, ability status, and so forth. Consequently, the United States has also denied, ostracized, and oppressed groups of people based on these same aforementioned identities (e.g., slavery, segregation, sexism, etc.). This resulted in amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the American Civil Rights Movement, and the Women’s Rights Movement, as well as others. These movements were no panacea; they simply weakened overt manifestations of bias, and allowed for more nuanced, covert, and/or institutionalized forms of bias. The elimination of overt bias also creates the illusion of success. People begin to think that the problems are solved because they are not obvious anymore. This highlights the need for diversity and multiculturalism in order to identify and expose covert bias and remind people that the struggles of the past are not just part of history; they undergird the problems we face today (e.g., achievement gaps, disproportionate discipline, and misidentification for special education). Ultimately, diversity/multiculturalism has the ability to provide a kind of interconnectedness among people by having them face the perplexing problems of equity, equality, social identity, and personal philosophy. Embracing and understanding diversity/multiculturalism is the key to unlocking its transformational power.

Article

As Japanese society diversifies with an influx of foreigners, multicultural education has a critical role to play in achieving educational equity and affirming cultural diversity of students from various cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. Since the 1980s, Japanese scholars and educators have introduced, interpreted, and reappropriated multicultural education from the West, and have developed the field in conjunction with different education genres (e.g., human rights education, Dowa education, Zainichi Korean education, and education for international understanding). Scholars often use the term multicultural coexistence education (tabunka kyosei kyoiku) to discuss the role of education to realize a society of multicultural coexistence. Contemporary debates and controversies regarding multicultural education focus on the “3F” (namely, food, festival, and fashion) approach, the absence of social justice perspectives, its narrow scope, and the invisibility of majority Japanese. Although the concept of multicultural education was imported from the West relatively recently, when the number of newcomer students increased in public schools during the early 1990s, Japan has its own versions of multicultural education, such as Dowa education and Zainichi Korean education. These forms of multicultural education policies and practices, which were primarily developed in the Kansai area, take a somewhat progressive approach toward achieving educational equity and reducing discrimination against minorities. Today, multicultural education is often associated with education for newcomer students. Although the national government has provided remedial education (e.g., Japanese language and adaptation classes) under the notion of equal treatment, numerous nonformal education sites have played critical roles in achieving equity and empowering newcomer students. Multicultural education policies and practices remain peripheral in Japan at the national government level; nevertheless, grass-roots movements have emerged where local governments, nonprofit organizations (NPOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), concerned teachers, researchers, minority youth and parents, and community organizers are attempting to transform assimilative education policies and practices into more equitable and inclusive ones. With the rise of multicultural coexistence (tabunka kyosei) discourse, Japanese society is taking incremental steps toward achieving the goals of multicultural education.

Article

Elisabet Öhrn and Gaby Weiner

The field known as gender and education emerged in the 1970s, and currently addresses a range of issues of equity and justice in education with the widespread incorporation of “intersectionality” (i.e., the interlocking nature of gender and other categorizations such as social class, race, ethnicity, sexualities, disability). The topics and practices constituting the field have changed over the years, as demonstrated in a survey by the authors of Gender and Education, the main journal of choice for those working in the field. Key topics addressed by researchers include patterns of examination achievement, curriculum and school practices, and the variety of femininities and masculinities produced with/in schooling and education. Overarching themes on the conduct of the field include decreased focus on practice and action, increased emphasis on theorization, critique of the dualisms on which the field is based (girl/boy, male/female, masculinity/femininity), and Anglophone and Western bias.