Rural education, education market reform and social justice: European and Australian perspectives

Iris Young’s model of oppression forms a basis from which the papers in this symposium have analyzed justice and inequality regarding both general urban-rural political economic relations on the one hand, intra-rural conditions and distributions of power and economy on the other, and education policy, experiences and possibilities. The social inequities and distributions of power are as unequal in rural as in urban areas, where the distance from the political center to the periphery, low levels of investment in rural education, and stigma, all contribute to marginalization. whilst the lack of research investment enables a culture of silence around these issues and the construction of negative rural images that influence understandings of the content, vectors and suitability of official politics and policy. This is the backcloth to the symposium, which brings together researchers from Europe and Australia with recent rich experience of investigating these and other key features of rural education, education reform and social justice.Social justice and equality are key themes that concern a vision of a society free from bias, and where all members of society are physically and psychologically secure as self-determining interdependent beings . A socially just education is part of a just society. It is an education that enables full and equal participation of all groups and gives fair and positive recognition by treating everyone justly as self-determining and interdependent beings. The symposium contributions focus on varied and broad collections of writing connected with this theme. They include project outlines, extensive literature reviews and qualitative research-syntheses, as well as empirical investigations and discussions of policy implications. There is a critique of metro-centricity but the presentations pay attention also to the potential of rural schools to play a more positive role in global education development and social transformation than is usually currently acknowledged.Papers:Enacting justice: classroom curriculum reform for rural-regional sustainability (Phil Roberts and Jenny Dean)Small Rural Schools in Northern Ireland: Neoliberal education policies in a segregated and divided schooling system (Carl Bagley and Montserrat Fargas)Labor market, educational choices and life opportunities in rural areas: The local context and its relations to the metro-centric policies of education and market governance (Dennis Beach and Elisabet Öhrn) Learning opportunities in stigmatised rurual schools (Begoña Vigo-Arrazola and Cristina Moreno-Pinillos)School equity, marketisation and access to the Australian senior secondary curriculum (Jenny Dean and Phil Roberts)Chair: Hernan Cuervo