in: Handbook on Promoting Social Justice in Education, Rosemary Papa, Editor, Springer, London/Berlin , Basel, pp.309-329, 2020
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, Turkey’s 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
students’ schooling. 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 system’s hidden
assumptions form obstacles for true social justice practices in education.