School Equity: The Students’ Perspectives in Diverse School,

Seiça, A., Chorão, M.F. (2014)

Educational reforms in Portugal reflect the influence of the Lisbon Strategy regarding a more competitive knowledge based economy and social cohesion. European directions also agree that educational systems respond to the work market tendencies in addition to the social challenges emerging in the globalized world. Accordingly, recent policies address educational inequalities concerning students´ truancy and failure, high number of students with low levels of literacy, the enlargement of compulsory secondary education, and an emphasis on adults education based on the principle of lifelong learning. Being part of a larger project, this paper focuses on perspectives of educational justice and purports to (a) identify factors that sustain or hinder educational equity; (b) understand the students’ perspectives regarding school practices of justice; and (c) how they are construed in diverse school contexts. What meanings do students attribute to school experiences? What practices are perceived either as just or unjust? The analysis combined qualitative and quantitative data from two urban schools with differential socio-economic and cultural family backgrounds. Results emphasize the following students´ perspectives of justice: (a) the equalitarian, regarding the distribution of the educational resources and forms of treatment; and (b) the redistributive, underlining matters of equity. The discussion underlines two points for interpretation: the association of critical school contexts to recent official policies; and the students’ differential concerns regarding teachers and schools practices.