Educational equality, equity and sui generis rights in Australian higher education: theorising the tensions and contradictions

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Educational equality and equity in education are ideals that have become embedded within the narratives surrounding education. Green (1983) observes that 'the possibility of their joint realization is open to question because ideals inevitably conflict' (p.318). In Australia, and other postcolonial states, the developing international framework of Indigenous sui generis rights and the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples brings a third but, as yet, undertheorised ideal to the table, that of the education rights of Indigenous peoples within higher education. Following Green (1983, p.318), the question this chapter pursues is not whether equality, equity and sui generis rights are deserving ideals, which they are, 'but rather whether they can exist at the same time'. Green identifies three aspects that need to be considered, aspects that are useful to the analysis underpinning this paper: conflicts of meaning, of aggregation and of implementation. This chapter will focus on Australia and its approach to these three ideals as an example of the marked similarities in all nation states where Indigenous populations cohabit with non-indigenous populations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEquality in Education: Fairness and Inclusion
EditorsHongzhi Zhang, Philip Wing Keung Chan, Christopher Boyle
Place of PublicationRotterdam Netherlands
PublisherSense Publishers
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9789462096929
ISBN (Print)9789462096905
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014

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