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Chapter 2 Social Justice and Education in the Maltese State School System
Author: Denise Mifsud


Educators have had good reason to be concerned with social justice in a context where diversity has become more pronounced in both our schools and communities, with widening divisions between the advantaged and the disadvantaged (). Internationally, increasing emphasis has been placed on utilizing the role of school leadership to address issues of social justice and equality (). This is unfolding within a scenario where comparative studies of the performance of educational systems, such as PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS, dominate the policy imagination globally, which assessment regimes have led to increased pressure on school systems. Locally, the issues of social justice and equity in education are being addressed via curricular and policy-oriented reform, within a society welcoming an ever-increasing influx of migrants and a local economic reality with identified skills shortages. It is within such a local Euro-Mediterranean context that this chapter seeks to explore how issues of social justice and equity are addressed at both policy and practitioner level. In-depth, semi-structured interviews with the Heads of both a Primary and a Secondary State School with an ethnically-diverse student population provide a narrative of leadership for social justice, while allowing for a critique of how policies are being perceived and enacted in practice. Leadership and social justice not being natural bedfellows (), with social justice being culturally constructed (), these headmasters’ narratives provide an understanding as to how personal, cultural and national contexts contribute to the enactment of social justice leadership. What criteria can we use to judge whether an educational policy or practice is socially just? How do we make comparative assessments of social justice in education? The findings of this small-scale study have implications for other national systems within the Euro-Mediterranean region, particularly those who are concerned with addressing issues of social justice and equity via schooling.

In: Enacting and Conceptualizing Educational Leadership within the Mediterranean Region
Volume Editors: Denise Mifsud and Paolo Landri
This edited volume focuses on the cultural situatedness of educational leadership in countries in the Mediterranean basin (Malta, Israel, Spain, Algeria, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus) featuring chapters that explore the reception of the leadership concept and its enactment in education settings within one or more countries of the Mediterranean; consider how both local and global policy discourses work on education leaders who translate this in a distinct school context; focus on the interplay of leaders, followers and context as a complex and ambiguous social construction within the Mediterranean context; study leadership via a combination of a theoretical definition and a consideration of what a particular group means by ‘leadership’, with a specific openness to local meanings; explore the unfolding of education reform as either a top-down or bottom-up process; consider the various cultural, religious, social and local factors that ‘dictate’ both leadership enactment, in addition to the power flow among leaders and followers; argue how the territorial, political and religious conflicts affect educational leadership, and thus the implementation of education reform to either conform to or converge from globalized discourses.

This book is targeted for post-graduate and doctoral students, as well as scholars, interested in the study of educational leadership, policy and politics of education, Mediterranean studies, and sociology of education. It is also of interest to those who feel the need to address the ‘missing-what’ of educational leadership in the Mediterranean region, an area of study that is largely dominated by Western models.
Chapter 1 Problematizing the Dominant Discourses and Policies of Educational Leadership within the Mediterranean Basin


This introductory chapter sets the stage for this edited book that documents and deconstructs the concept of educational leadership within various education settings across the Mediterranean region, exploring the intersection of education, culture and geopolitics as shaped by the distinct social, religious, national, cultural and geographic contexts. Notoriously little agreement exists about how leadership may be defined – describe the field as characterized by ‘conceptual confusion and endemic vagueness’ (p. 369). This chapter problematizes the romanticization of leadership, as well as the concept of leader centrism, while deconstructing the search for a blueprint of competences that define leadership as an exceptional practice that can simply be simulated across situations, contexts and cultures. The authors further problematize the notions of universality and cultural contingency in educational leadership, given the recent unfolding of a cultural turn in educational leadership studies (). Consequently, this chapter paves the way for the presentation of an understanding of the effect of state policies, geopolitics and popular culture on leadership enactment within the diverse education landscapes constituting the Mediterranean basin.

In: Enacting and Conceptualizing Educational Leadership within the Mediterranean Region