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UK-based professor wants social justice included in Jamaican education policy

Published:Sunday | November 6, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Poyser

Professor of Educational Leadership and Management at the University of Huddersfield in the United Kingdom Paul Miller has called for more emphasis to be placed on the issue of social justice in Jamaica's education policies.

"Social justice is a non-discriminatory principle, and for Jamaica to appear serious about being the place to "work, study, do business", social justice principles and actions need to be embedded in educational policy, curriculum content, and in educational leadership practices - from nursery to university," he said in response to questions from The Gleaner.

Miller, who is president of the Institute for Educational Administration and Leadership, Jamaica (IEAL-J), argues that corruption in education is a serious social justice issue that needs to receive more attention from policymakers. He said it is a massive opportunity cost manifested through "kickbacks, flawed procurement processes, the selection and appointment of staff, and the sale of school supplies that should not be sold".

He also pointed to the treatment of what he describes as hard-to-reach rural and remote schools as another area of social justice deficit in current education policy.

"Several hard-to-reach schools lack adequate teachers, resources, and material and engage in a process of "satisfying" in order to deliver an education to pupils. Nevertheless, the policy context, although recognising the enormous burdens involved for those who work in hard-to-reach schools, there is limited evidence that schools are accorded a 'special status', which would see them attracting more funding and better facilities. Similarly, schools in violence-prone communities could benefit from having a 'special status', and with this comes more funding, better security, teachers are given life insurance policies, housing vouchers, etc," he said.


Gender in education


The former professor of educational leadership and management at the University of Technology further argues that discussions about the role of gender in education are still relevant to education policy as an item of social justice.

"Regarding the issue of gender, although women dominate most educational systems, there appears an acceptance, almost, among some educational policymakers that this is the way it is, rather than the development of targeted interventions aimed at attracting males to the classroom, in particular, to primary teaching and leadership roles," he added.

The IEAL-J will next year host the International Conference on Educational Leadership and Management, which will explore issues of social justice in education policy.

Miller noted that the issues of social justice in education were important because of their impact on educational outcomes.

"Social justice principles should be the seed and flower upon which national development is built. Increasingly, however, education is being seen as more relevant to national economic development and less important to national social transformation," he said.