Concept of Social Equity

Social equity refers to equal and fair access to everyone in a society to the resources of the society. All have an equal opportunity to employment opportunities, education etc. It indicates that everyone should be given the opportunity to utilize the nations’ resources to meet their basic requirements as well as to fulfill their individual potential.

The Oxford Dictionary defines equity as ‘the quality of being fair and impartial.’

The National Academy of Public Administration defines Social Equity as; ‘The fair, just and equitable management of all institutions serving the public directly or by contract; the fair, just and equitable distribution of public services and implementation of public policy; and the commitment to promote fairness, justice, and equity in the formation of public policy’.

It was H. George Frederickson who first introduced the term “social equity” to public administration during the 1960s. According to Frederickson– ‘social equity is a phrase that comprehends an array of value preferences and management style preferences. Social equity emphasizes responsibility for decision and programme implementation for public managers. Social equity emphasizes change in public management. Social equity emphasizes responsiveness to the needs of citizens rather than to the needs of public organizations. Social equity emphasizes an approach to the study of education for public administration that is interdisciplinary, applied, problem solving in character and sound theoretically.’

Thus, social equity implies that all services provided to the public should be distributed and run in a fair, just and equitable manner. The focus is on the needs of the public rather than  on the needs of the organization.

Kristen Norman-Major put forth three major aspects of social equity in public administration:

  1. Simple fairness and equal treatment
  2. Distribution of resources to reduce inequalities in universal programs and services
  3. Redistribution of resources to level the playing field through targeted programmes

The above aspects have the objective of providing equality of access for all.

Social Equity in Relation to Education

Social equity with respect to education indicates that everyone should have a fair access to receiving education. Everyone has the right to partake of the educational services that are provided in a society.  In order to ensure  just and fair access to all, to educational programmes, all those factors that may serve as obstructions to getting equal access to education needs to be removed. For many marginalized sections of our society it is education that offers the opportunity to overcome their oppressed conditions. There are various impediments to free and just access to education in our society such as casteism, gender discrimination, poverty, regionalism etc.

The Indian Constitution provides for education as a Fundamental Right. Article 41 of the constitution provides that, ‘All the citizens have equal right to education.’ Article 21-A in the Constitution of India provides for free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of six to fourteen years. According to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 every child has the  right to full-time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards. This Act enables every child’s access to education. It also caters to the needs of disadvantaged groups such as child labourers, migrant children, differently abled children, or those who are at a disadvantage due to various social, cultural, economic, and regional factors etc.

Various schemes have been put forth by the government to enable an equitable environment in which access to education is possible for all sections of society. Some such schemes are Education Guarantee Scheme, Education for Women’s Equality, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, Information and Communication Technology in Schools, Saakshar Bharat etc. To this regard the rigorous efforts put in by various non-governmental organizations have also succeeded in increasing fair access to education for many disadvantaged groups in society.[wpdevart_like_box profile_id=”foundationsofeducationbook” connections=”show” width=”200″ height=”75″ header=”small” cover_photo=”show” locale=”en_US”]

The Commission for Secondary Education (1952-53) and the Education Commission (1964-66) have made significant contributions in bringing about equality in education. The National Policy on Education 1986 focused on equity and equality of educational opportunities for everyone and to provide access to education to all those who had been denied those opportunities.

Although the  past few decades have witnessed a lot of initiatives in addressing the problems of inequality in  access to educational opportunities, yet, a lot more work needs to done in this regard. Social equity is a complex goal to attain as several of the problems that hinder achieving equal access to all are endemic and age-old in our society. Therefore efforts need to emphasize on attitudinal changes among the people. It is essential that everyone in our society has equal educational opportunities for only then can our nation truly be able to attain its true potential- for when the people grow the nation grows.



Education: Philosophy, Sociology and Economics; Edited by Naseerali M.K. in 2013 & 2014.


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