A Set of Equity Indicators of the European Education Systems. A synthesis

Demeuse, M. (2004)

The first decision of our international team was to move from equality to equity. Nevertheless, anyone who talks about equity rather than equality is generally suspected of having abandoned safe territory and a clear concept for a minefield and a fuzzy concept. For many of the supporters of egalitarian views, the main appeal of this new positioning would be to justify unjustifiable inequalities for the benefit of the dominant class. Therefore, some explanation is required on this point. It is true that equity is a more difficult concept than equality, and that it allows, in its principle, inequalities; nevertheless, it is a concept that allows to go beyond a purely formal examination to perform a multidimensional analysis. In fact, the strictly egalitarian vision, which aims to give everyone the same treatment, while ignoring the characteristics of each individual at the outset, or even, the results in terms of reproduction of the initial inequalities, forces us to question its very foundations, precisely for reasons of equality. The central question, as stressed by Sen (1992), is not equality or inequality but “Equality of what ?”. By the way, we move from a supposed very simple question to a more complex one and from a world of certainty to a quite complex situation where differences could be legitimate and equalities could be perceived as unfair.