Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, February 18th, 2018

Social Justice in Afghanistan

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Social Justice in Afghanistan

One of the issues that may no one argue on is that schooling has failed systematically to serve many students from diverse backgrounds in Afghanistan. That’s why social justice is a concern in education in Afghanistan and has raised many questions in the country. Who gets how much schooling is still a critical social issue. Equally vital is the type of education that children and youth receive-and who decides about such an issue. A focus on social and historical context reveals multiple inequalities which influences access to, treatment in, and outcomes of schooling anywhere including Afghanistan. As educators and citizens, we shall be concerned about the effects of persistent poverty, illiteracy, cultural imperialism, racism- and the list goes on. I assume, teachers alone, cannot solve these injustices and inequalities. However, teaching is an inherently moral and political enterprise, and teacher’s daily activities do matter in the effort to establish a more just, caring, and democratic society. Preparing and providing adequate support for teachers to engage in this intellectually and politically demanding work, therefore, is of the utmost importance in our country.
Why teaching for social justice?
It needs to be given more thought and time because it points to a positive vision, an end-goal to strive for, and an issue that we will never be able to fully attain it because conflict as a result of power imbalances is inherent to human societies and that the frameworks for seeing and evaluating the issues of injustice that follow from power asymmetries are contested and in flux. The current arrangements might be seen as satisfactory today might be tomorrow’s burning social justice issue. Partly because teaching for social justice names a vision that will always be contested and provisional, it is vital to seeing teaching as a verb. This highlights that teaching for social justice is also a process; it would be self-defending for educators to employ unjust of harmful practices in service of their vision of a better, more just and humane society. A society that everyone regardless of race, religion, language, place of birth and ethnicity will be treated equally and receive the same educational facilities. Thus, the phrase teaching for social justice contains an ambiguity that I understand. One interpretation focuses on a curriculum that aims to make students aware of injustices, inform them about various social change strategies and conditions, and motivate them to work to fight those injustices. Another interpretation, equally important, focuses on modeling social justice through equitable classroom and school practices, including assessment and governance. Experience show, tensions and contradictions will arise. Therefore, experts argue that posing critical questions about the challenges of translating an anti-oppression approach into practice is vital.
Countering cultural imperialism                                      
One form of oppression is cultural imperialism, a social phenomenon that has long history in Afghanistan. Based on this approach the dominant group’s experience and culture reigns as common sense, the unquestioned norm. The oppressed group is stereotyped and portrayed as “the other”, which leads to the other’s being ignored and – paradoxically and simultaneously singled out and vilified. As such, this approach has been one of the dominant strategies in the country and the current high level of illiteracy, poverty and numerous conflicts is the outcome of such injustice approach in Afghanistan.
Countering Marginalization
Marginalization means exclusion from “useful participation in social life”, including school. In Afghanistan we may no longer formally segregate students by race, ethnic, gender, and language, although through streaming, ability grouping, and related practices, this still happens informally. Also, due to the lack of adequate funding for all regions and the students with disabilities and impairments, still students are partially or fully excluded from full participation due ability (physical, psychiatric, or developmental). Such marginalization is unjust because it hampers the opportunity to exercise capacities in socially defined and recognized ways.
Strategies that teachers can use to counter marginalization include: 1) Challenging assumptions in texts and discussions that serve to exclude groups of students; 2) devising class activities that allow for greater inclusion; 3) creating assignments that allow for the exploration and articulation of alternatives; and 4) fostering supported integration and de-streaming.
Conclusion
The phrase social justice is a social phenomenon that ensures equality among all the people living in a specific geographical area. The experience and historical memory of our country show a dark side of the social justice background in Afghanistan. Different social groups in Afghanistan have been deprived of their rights including education and it call for urgent strategic actions of government to further expand scope of access to its basic services including education for all regions and the students with disabilities and impairments.

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