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Education Inequalities and Social Justice


New principles govern education and training policies. They are expected to meet the overall demand of justice inherited from the Enlightenment. However, the meaning of justice has changed over time. It is also understood rather differently across Europe.
Justice can refer to equal opportunities, equal outcomes, equity with “fair inequalities”, accountability, respect for users’ rights, the search for a compromise with the demand for effectiveness, and so on. Policies and programmes have been developed within the European education community aimed at achieving equality and maintaining social cohesion through the inclusion of differences. These include free school meals, income support measures, bussing, education priority areas, inclusion mechanisms in training systems, the creation of elite streams in working class schools, and widening access policies in universities, to name a few. Key issues here concern the cost/effectiveness ratio of these policies.
We might also question whether, for instance, changes in the nature of the welfare state, particular approaches to social justice, create new education inequalities, for which groups, and with what outcomes?

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