This essay has been published in:
Mokubung Nkomo & Saloshna Vandeyar – Thinking Diversity, Building Cohesion – A Transnational Dialogue on Education
Rozenberg Edition ISBN 978 90 3610 128 8
Unisa Edition ISBN 978 1 86888 567 1
About the author
Sonia Nieto is Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy, and Culture in the School of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has taught students at all levels from elementary grades through graduate school, and worked at the university level preparing teachers and teacher educators for over thirty years. Her research focuses on multicultural education and the education of Latinos, immigrants, and students of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Her books include Affirming Diversity (4th ed., 2004), The Light in Their Eyes (1999), What Keeps Teachers Going? (2003), and two edited volumes, Puerto Rican Students in U.S. Schools (2000), and Why We Teach (2005). In addition, she has published dozens of book chapters and articles.
It is clear, then, that dramatic inequalities exist in the access that students around the globe have to an excellent, high quality education, inequalities that are lamentably too frequently based on race, social class, language, and other differences. No matter how much schools change to accommodate student differences, they cannot, by themselves, completely overcome these structural realities. Moreover, given the current political realities we are facing in the world, it is clear that it will take concentrated work at many levels – institutional, state, national, and international – to turn the situation around.
There are numerous examples of how neoliberal and neoconservative policies have impeded progress in diversity education, particularly as it relates to social justice. In South Africa, Ndimande (2006) has made the case that the influence of neoliberalism and neo-conservatism has partly contributed to the lack of resources in township schools and has impeded school access and equal educational opportunities. In Australia research in urban secondary schools shows that the introduction of community languages had very positive effects not only at the school level but also in the community (Kalantzis, Cope, Noble, & Pynting, 1990). Notwithstanding their success, many of these programs were dismantled in the 1990s when neoliberal educational policies began to be implemented around the world (Castles, 2004).
Heighten awareness of diverse cultural mores and their impact on behavior is needed in educational and societal interactions.
“To open up our experience (and, yes, our curricula) to the existential possibilities of multiple kinds is to extend and deepen what each of us thinks of when he or she speaks of a community” (Greene, 1995, p.
Positively Diverse A strategic approach to managing and improving equality of opportunity for staff, and benefiting from the diversity of culture, skills and experience they bring to the workplace.
In 1921, during her campaign she said “I want for myself what I want for other women, absolute equality.” (Milestones for Canadian Women in Politics) She was a monumental figure for all Canadian women to realize that had the same say as men do and can be leaders if they desire to do so....
The Vital Connection equalities framework Aims to put values of equality, fair treatment and social inclusion firmly at the centre of NHS workforce policy and practice.
What came to be known as multicultural education in the United States, intercultural education in Europe, antiracist education in the U.K. and, later, nonracial education in South Africa, began with a focus on race. This focus is historically logical and understandable. In the United States, the field has its roots in the civil rights movement while in the U.K. it was a reaction to the tremendous educational inequities faced by young people from former colonies.
In South Africa, the anti-apartheid movement provided a basis for the nonracial movement, and it is still, according to Mokubung Nkomo, Linda Chisholm, and Carolyn McKinney (2004) the underlying basis for the movement which was ‘born out of a conscious effort to transform undemocratic apartheid culture and practice by replacing it with a democratic, inclusive education ethos founded on a human rights culture’. More recently, the focus of diversity education has expanded beyond race alone to also include ethnicity, gender, social class, language, sexual orientation, ability, and other differences. Although there is by no means general agreement on this more inclusive definition of diversity education among either scholars or practitioners in the field, there is a growing recognition that there are complex and important intersections among all social identities that need to be accounted for in diversity education.
Department of Health Single Equality Scheme 2007 -2010
Some examples of how the NHS has mainstreamed equality and diversity into its work are:
Definitions and parameters
For the purposes of convenience, and to be as inclusive as possible, in this paper I refer to the movement that is now most commonly called multicultural or intercultural education with the more neutral term diversity education. Needless to say, there are numerous perceived and real differences among all the terms mentioned, but because I do not want to spend all my time discussing the nuances among these differences, I instead propose some general parameters that I believe most of us in the field would agree with. At the same time, I am mindful of the tremendous differences in context, condition, and history of each society in relation to diversity education. In some nations, diversity education has been concerned primarily with marginalized people of colour, as is the case in the United States. In other nations, particularly in Europe, xenophobia towards both long-term and short-term immigrants is the defining issue (Santos Regó & Nieto, 2000). In South Africa, integrating an immense population that was legally excluded from the full benefits of citizenship looms much larger. Hence, diversity education has not been experienced similarly across distinct contexts. As Crain Soudien, Nazir Carrim and Yusuf Sayed (2004) have argued, One size does not fit all because citizens are not located in homogeneous, symmetrical and stable social, economic, and political positions. How one addresses the differences and the different kinds of inequalities thrown up by the complex social contexts in which people find themselves is a strategic matter.
In the broadest terms, diversity education recognizes the pluralism that students embody (racial/ethnic, social class, gender, and other) as resources to be used in the service of their education. At the same time, multiculturalism is not simply the recognition of group identity, although it has been used in this way in some places, most notably in the United States. Rather, I use diversity education to mean multiculturalism as public policy, as the term is used in Canada and Australia, among other nations (Castles, 2004; Hill & Allan, 2004). Diversity education, used in this way, acknowledges that structural inequalities in society impede equitable outcomes in education, not to mention in life, and it recognizes the role of the state in addressing such inequalities.