Social Justice in Turkish Education System: Issues and Interventions

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Kondakçı Y., Beycioğlu K.

in: Handbook on Promoting Social Justice in Education, Rosemary Papa, Editor, Springer, London/Berlin , Basel, pp.309-329, 2020

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Publisher: Springer, London/Berlin 
  • City: Basel
  • Page Numbers: pp.309-329
  • Editors: Rosemary Papa, Editor
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This chapter discusses the research and practice in social justice in education in

Turkey. Economic, social, political, and demographic developments that create

and perpetuate disparities in different societies are equally valid for Turkey.

In order to capture the state of social justice in education first, Turkeys social,

demographic, and economic status of the country was discussed. Turkey has a

relatively young population, which increases the demand for public education.

The key figures on the schooling rates in Turkey suggest that Turkey has been

improving its performance in providing access to school to its young population.

However, economic performance of the country suggest that significant part of

population suffers from inequality in income distribution. Social, economic, and

demographic issues as well as the key issues in the structure of education system

in Turkey give way to quality of education issue in Turkey. Particularly economic disparities contribute largely to social justice issues in education. The issues caused

by the economic structures are perpetuated by the centralized education system. It is

argued that the centralized education of Turkey and functionalist sociology exist in

a symbiosis, which leads to several false assumptions about developing and

delivering educational services in the country. Assuming that the central authority

is able to neutralize the differences across the schools so that the students attending

any school in the system have access to the elements of education of the same

quality level; assuming that the students attending any school have the same

capacity to benefit from educational provisions; and assuming that school improvement

models can be applied in the same way to every school setting largely lead to

ignoring the social, political, and economic disparities eliminating the students

access to quality educational provisions. The equal approach deepens the deprived

status of the disadvantaged students. The dilemma of granting access but failing to

provide quality is related to the concepts of horizontal-vertical inequalities. On the

other hand, scholarly work on social justice in education can be grouped under

macro- and micro-sociological perspectives. Research on micro-sociological perspective

in Turkey largely focus on the role of principal in mitigating the effect of

disparities on educational attainment of the students, while research stream on

macro-sociological perspective focuses largely on impact of certain setups on

studentsschooling. However, research in both of these streams highlights four

important gaps in social justice in education of Turkey. First, research gap suggests

that scholarly work on social justice in Turkey rely extensively onWestern concepts

and terminology. The policy gap suggests that Turkey lacks a broad social justice in

educational policy, which accounts on every institution in the country. The leadership

gap suggests that school principals and teachers do not have a formal role

definition for social justice leadership. Rather, social justice behaviors of school

leaders are motivated by personal, altruistic, or moral endeavor of the principals.

Finally, the institution gap suggest that the centralized education systems hidden

assumptions form obstacles for true social justice practices in education.