Global Advanced Research Journal of Educational Research and Reviews (GARJERR) ISSN: 2315-5132

August 2014, 3(5): pp. 115-124

Copyright © 2014 Global Advanced Research Journals


Full Length Research Paper

Enacting social justice in secondary schools: On track or off track in school leaders’ professional development

Mahboob Sooltan Sohawon and Nathalie Congo-Poottaren

Mauritius Institute of Education

Corresponding author Email:

Accepted 25 August, 2014


The various articles under the World Declaration on Education for All (1990) clearly express the concerns for participants to meeting basic learning needs of every person. This concern has also been used to inform the professional development of future school leaders. Various studies have found that leadership is the second element which impacts on student achievement (Leithwood, Louis, Anderson and Wahlstrom, 2004). Kouzes and Posner (1995) remind us that the role of the school leaders in shaping the direction that schools take is vital. They act as role models and signal to other stakeholders what is relevant and important at school (Fullan and Stiegelbauer, 1991). One issue which is seen today as very important is that of social justice. Yet, Hawley and James (2010) claim that in America, most school leaders do not have a precise notion of the meaning and implication of social justice and applying social justice at schools. Is the situation in Mauritius the same, or it is different? Hence the focus of this study is to explore how heads of schools view their professional development in terms of preparing them to enact social justice at school and explore recommendations which they could make to improve the preparation of future school leaders. A qualitative study was thus conducted in order to answer the research questions. Interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of six school leaders who have followed a course in educational leadership and management. This course has social justice as one of its underpinning philosophies. The findings hint at the fact that school leaders have a clear view on the meaning of social justice, but find it hard to discuss the strategies which could be used to enact social justice at school. They also reveal that there are gaps in their professional development which did not address the issue of enacting social justice in depth. Whilst they were exposed to the various contextual factors affecting students’ achievement, the link with social justice was not developed in depth. However, the participants mentioned how the other modules studied in the course such as management of self, innovation, conflict and change, helped them to overcome the challenges they face while enacting social justice. The authors argue that there is need to create more awareness on the theme of social justice and to review the preparation of aspiring school leaders so that the issue of social justice is deeply examined during their preparation. They will be better equipped to enact social justice at school, thus making it a reality.

Keywords: leadership, professional development, social justice



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