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Towards an Education for Social Justice

Ethics Applied to Education


Edited By Tony Cotton

This book challenges educators to envisage an education system which sees as its goal a more socially just world. It explores the question of how education, both formal and informal, can positively impact on all pupils’ life chances and life experiences.
The contributors to the book take the view that access to an equitable education for all is a necessary condition for the advancement of social justice; indeed the book argues that social justice cannot be achieved except through education. The authors suggest that it is the responsibility of educators to support the advancement of the millennium development goals including the achievement of universal primary education and the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The authors in this collection explore a range of case studies and offer evidence for the ways in which education has proved detrimental to the advancement of social justice. More importantly they point to ways in which our global education system can be developed to meet the requirements of a socially just society.


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2 Bill Atweh, Derek Bland and Kate Ala’i: Education for Social Responsibility


Bill Atweh, Derek Bland and Kate Ala’i 2 Education for Social Responsibility: The Role of Ethics and Imagination in Engaging Teachers and Students Introduction In this chapter we make an assumption about the primary role education has for the life of its beneficiaries and for society. Arguably, formal education plays an important role in enhancing the likelihood of a person’s partici- pation in future social life, including employment, enjoyment and general well-being. Similarly, education is often seen as a main means for the inter- generational transmission of knowledge and culture, thus contributing to the maintenance of society and its development. However, as Dewey (1916) argues, in liberal societies, education has the capacity to enhance democratic participation in civic society that goes beyond passive participation by its members. One can argue that the achievement of the ideals of democracy demand a free and strong education system. In other words, while educa- tion can function as an instrument to integrate students into present and future society, it also has the potential to become an instrument for its transformation by means of which citizens can develop an understanding of how their society functions and a sense of agency towards its transfor- mation. Arguably, this is what Freire (1985) meant when he talked about the role of education to read and write the world. A stream of progressive educators – for example Apple (2004), Freire (1985), Giroux (2001) and McLaren (2002) – taught us that the ‘reading’ of the world that is capable of leading into...

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