Social Justice in Australian Higher Education
The course reading partly offers a historical study of the Australian educational policy since its establishment in the nineteen fifties. The authors’ main arguments are exposed by the use of three fundamental concepts. First and foremost, the authors assess and evaluate the relationship between the social and economic policy, more specifically, the extent to which weighty economic matters overshadow government policy agenda. Secondly, the authors are making an attempt to demonstrate the extent to which education policy is innumerably included in the social and/or economic agenda. Last but not least, the most precise interest of the authors is to study the social justice goal of Australian higher education policy and the ways by which this is conveyed across in various ways in terms of expansion in the system.
The organization of Gale’s and Tranter’s work is essentially chronological. They start by exposing to their readers a synopsis of the shifts in the country from elite to mass towards universal higher education. They seem to argue that the increasing access to higher education in Australia for a long time failed to reach everyone and every region equally. They also expose to their readers the ways by which successive government that has held office since the 1850s have endured to deal with this problem. Certain governments have made efforts geared towards expanding the system to house everyone, based on merit; some have employed diversion strategies whereby, certain students have been diverted to other educational alternatives, and others attempted to distribute available spaces in proportion to how groups are represented within the population.
What Gale and Tranter are suggesting is that, to be socially fair and morally right on the basis of recognition, higher education policy fully has to take into account the less fortunate in the society by putting in place a deeper comprehension of the knowledge, values and understandings of those particular individuals or groups that are poorly represented and segregated from higher education. This applies to those persons that are from poverty-stricken backgrounds.
From Michael Kirby’s Perspective, the public education and fundamental factors that complimented its spread throughout Australia since the mid-nineteenth century deserve applause. To him, the country owes the brains behind this idea. This group of people encountered considerable resistance and hostility at that particular moment in time, from religious institutions and private investors that were dominating during the colonial schooling period. The idea of public schooling was challenged by those individuals or groups who believed that education was obviously a privilege of those who were more socio-economically fortunate than others. They further argued that public schooling or rather, opening educational opportunities for the less fortunate economically were the appalling outcome of “socialism”. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the country experienced a significant revolution in the history of its educational systems, and public education system was established. This came around the same time when the federal revolution was also ushered into the country. Education in Australia from this point in time would be compulsory, free and secular”. One of the primary factors that played a significant role in advancing Australia towards being a modern nation was an easily accessible education that was provided by public schools. While seriously considering the fact that kids in private schools are also citizens, the values of these schools are also unquestionable. Parents who take of their children in these schools are also taxpayers, and that constructive competition is essential for public schools. The writer of this article also acknowledges the fact that some level of imbalance is creeping in public schools. Therefore, he believes that those who are the products of public schools that edify a larger proportion of Australians are obliged to speak up.
Globally, equity is often viewed as one of the pillars of an effective higher education system. The others are quality and efficiency. Any attempt by the policymakers to overlook this fact would be quite detrimental to the entire process of policy drafting. The essentiality of this factor is not unexpected. It emphasizes on the people’s beliefs regarding justice and hopes for family and the entire society. As a result, equity for a long time has consistently been the basis of insincere newspaper headlines and despicable political point-scoring. Equity, as a concept entailed in the higher education system, involves having minimal barriers, if not none, at all, to university places for those individuals who are able to join these institutions. The opportunities or rather spaces in these institutions should be offered on the merit basis without any discrimination on the basis of gender, religious inclinations, ethnicity or race and social class. This way, everyone can have an equal opportunity of developing his talent to his maximum potential. There are a number of noteworthy individual gains that can be accrued through higher education. These include lifetime earnings, personal development, social status and career possibilities So far, Australia has been among the leaders in championing for and implementing policies that are geared towards enhancing the national equity in the higher education system. This success can be attributed to the heroes of the 19th century who encountered strong resistance and hostility, particularly from religious institutions, private investors that were dominating during the colonial schooling period.
This work offers an elaborative assessment of the recent elevation of equitable student’s results in education policy of Australia and research. The author brings to his readers’ attention some fundamental issues that illustrate the progress made in the Australian education sector. For instance, earlier, the students’ desires and ambitions were at some point the preserve of individuals, relatives and society members. However, this has gradually changed, and these goals have become the focus of the country’s higher education policy. The subsequent essential changes that have been implemented on these policy frameworks, targeting the underrepresented, have largely been aimed at giving the country a competitive edge in the global knowledge economy. Likewise, giving opportunity to the teenage mothers has become a way of guaranteeing better opportunities for their children to attain even higher levels of academic accomplishment.
In a socially just society, both the nice and terrible things that life is offering are all equally shared among the members of the human society without any form of unfairness (Miller, 1999). When one hears a group of persons criticizing some “policy or state of affair” as being socially unjust, what they are insinuating at is that a person or a group of people are benefiting from certain resources more than other individuals or groups of people (Behrendt, 2003).
A critical look at the articles chosen and the chosen reading, it is clear that they all agree on a variety of concepts relating to education in Australia, and even various other parts of the world. One fundamental concept that they all agree on is the importance of social justice in advancing Australia towards being a modern nation, as a result of easily accessible education that was made possible by public schools. They believe that those who are the products of public schools, which edify a larger proportion of Australians, are obliged to come out strong, and ensure that any level of imbalance does not creep back again into the education system. A number of noteworthy individual gains can undoubtedly be accrued through higher education e.g. personal development, lifetime earnings career possibilities and social status.
Just like quality and efficiency, equity is also a fundamental concept that is also globally considered to be one of the pillars of an effective higher education system. This point has been stressed in all the articles, sending a warning to all policymakers who attempt to overlook this fact. Damaging outcomes in such an attempt are in no doubt.
Social justice demands that any higher education policy framework should fully take into account the interests of the less fortunate in the society, by ensuring that the knowledge, values and understandings of those particular individuals or groups that are not well-represented and well-understood (Capeheart & Dragan, 2007). This way, their challenges can be addressed, so as to be accorded equal access to higher education. More importantly, this should apply to those persons that are from poverty-stricken backgrounds.