Because all students deserve an equal distribution of resources and equability, yet some do not even have the right to sit in a classroom.
What is social justice in education?
Social justice in education is about distributing resources fairly and treating all students equitably so that they feel safe and secure. However, we live in a world where fair distribution of resources and equitable treatment do not always happen. For example, poorly funded schools do not have the newest technology, books or support which would contribute to an equal learning experience in comparison to wealthy schools.
How social justice appears in education
Social justice in education can appear in two different forms. Firstly, it can be seen within the level of equality in the education system. In this form, factors like wealth, gender and race can determine what kind of education an individual can receive. For example, research shows that 73% of girls in South Sudan – and 130 million worldwide – are missing out on school. The inability to attend school is then followed by another research, showing that girls who are not educated are more at risk of poverty, child marriage, violence and prone to diseases, including HIV and Aids.
The second form of social justice in education is about how it is taught and presented within school systems. Some schools choose to ignore the important topics of worldwide issues such as sexism, racism, poverty and more. Other schools, however, commit to the importance of social justice and incorporate a committed education curriculum to educate and bring close attention to significant issues around the world. It is important that schools broaden students’ worldviews and expand their minds to what is happening around the world.
Why is it so important?
There are many reasons why social justice in education is important. The most common reason is that all students deserve the right to education, no matter their gender, race, or wealth status. As previously mentioned, we live in a world where some children do not have the right to sit in a classroom which is then followed by other issues in the future. It is thus important to raise awareness that everyone deserves access to a fair and equal education system. In addition, it is equally as important that students who are in education can get an understanding of power dynamics, develop respect for cultures different from their own and learn how to affect positive change in their communities. Furthermore, there are many benefits of implementing social justice in education. Some of the benefits include:
Empathy - students will have a stronger sense of what’s just and fair and stronger ability to distinguish between facts and opinions.
A collaborative community within classrooms.
A safe space for sharing opinions and applying knowledge to real-world problems
Challenges of social justice in education
One of the challenges of implementing awareness of social justice in education is the belief that the framework can be one-sided as often only a politically, left-leaning perspective is promoted. This therefore then becomes a problem as children are not taught both sides of the social issues. However, if the framework is set right, children should be taught both sides of the issue and use their analytical skills to nurture their own thoughts and opinions.
In addition, some may argue that schools should take a passive approach to raise awareness on social justice issues as they should not mix in political issues into their children education system.
Promoting social justice in education
Classrooms have always been the beginning of the social stage. This is because they provide an environment open to promoting and accelerating new ideas. In addition, it is during school-age when children start to develop important skills and qualities such as critical thinking, collaboration and communication. All of this contributes toward building a better society, hence why it is extremely important that social justice is promoted within education.
Some of the ways in which we can start promoting social justice in education:
Creating a community of conscience within classrooms.
Teaching students to view each other as friends rather than competitors.
Teaching experiences that draw upon diverse backgrounds.
Turning discussions and learning of social justice into action.