PV-02: Equity, Fairness and Development
All members of the society should have fair access to resources and opportunities for development. In education, outcomes can only be fair if different starting points and obstructions are recognised and accommodated. We define fairness in inclusive education to mean striving for equal outcomes and taking account of individual’s different starting points and barriers.
Why it is important in context of inclusive citizenship education?
Equity and fairness are often used without clear definition. In societies they may be used about the distribution of resources, power or the administration of legal justice. Being fair may not mean treating everyone equally. In the distribution of resources or power fairness may be achieved by taking into account an individual’s needs, difficulties, efforts and skills.
Inclusive citizenship education must encourage learners to explore the different meanings of ‘fair’ and ‘equal’ as they apply to social and political issues.
For decisions to be recognised as fair, the criteria that dictates what is fair needs to be understood and accepted. Education will only be ‘inclusive’ if it effectively meets the differing needs of all in society and the learning group. This requires educators to understand barriers that obstruct learning opportunities for some learners. Inclusive citizenship education allows people from different backgrounds to contribute to the development of themselves, their communities and wider society. Inclusive education creates a greater pool of well-educated people and contributes to national economic success.
Citizenship learning must give learners understanding that the laws of a society need to be fair and transparent and applied consistently without prejudice or favour either to the weak or the powerful. Learners should discuss how laws which seem unfair might be changed.
Context, issues, processes
Exploring fairness, equality and equity involves discussing different core values about fairness. For example is it fair that a person should get a higher reward than another if they have worked harder? This would measure of effort to define what is fair. Should greater rewards go to those with greater skills or experience? Should extra resources go to those with most need, such as people with disabilities or illness?
Other criteria, such as ‘first come, first served’ or random choices are commonly seen as ‘fair’. Understanding what is accepted as fair in the distribution of resources, wealth, wages, power, education and social status are all topics that are important to discuss inclusive citizenship education.
Equality of respect, rights and access does not mean treating everyone exactly the same – it requires individuals, communities, societies, service providers and the state to recognise differences in the distribution of resources. Such differences may include gender, age, socio-economic status, disabilities, sexualities, ethnicities, language, religious beliefs and much more.
Promoting entitlement to universal human rights, equality, fair treatment and demonstrating equal respect for all people in society are core principles of inclusive citizenship education. Teaching content and methods should demonstrate these principles – in the ways that we treat all learners, and in ensuring that learners understand fairness is not a simple concept – it must be examined, discussed and worked for.
Working to support the development of all individuals, communities and societies is everybody’s concern and citizenship education should teach how we can all contribute. It is not only the responsibility of government only.