equality of opportunity

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equality of opportunity

the idea that all persons, regardless of class, age, race or gender, should have equal rights to compete for and attain sought-after positions in society. In the 20th century, the concept has played an important part in the search to achieve a more just, more equal and fair, distribution of society's wealth and benefits. It has been especially central in debates surrounding education.

In the 1944 Education Act in England and Wales, ‘equality of opportunity’ meant the right to equal access to a system of secondary education which enabled children to develop their natural abilities and talents, irrespective of class position. The 11+ examination was designed as an ‘objective’, and therefore fair, device to assess these abilities in order that children would be placed in the education best suited to their needs and aptitudes. Research conducted, in the late 1950s and after, in the UK and the US, suggested that such an outcome was not being obtained. This led to a re-evaluation of the definition of equality of opportunity Instead of an emphasis on ‘equality of access’ attention turned to the goal of achieving greater ‘equality of outcome’. The new task was to alter the pattern of educational provision to compensate for the existence of social disad vantages. During the late 1960s and early 1970s various educational policy reforms such as the wider introduction of COMPREHENSIVE EDUCATION (replacing selective schools in many areas), COMPENSATORY EDUCATION schemes, and ‘positive discrimination’ were introduced.

Both the sociological literature and wider public debate have focused on two major issues concerning equality of opportunity, in either its narrower or its wider sense:

  1. the extent to which it is socially desirable, feasible, realistic; and
  2. the extent to which particular educational innovations aimed at achieving increased equality of educational opportunity have been successful or unsuccessful. On the first count, some critics have argued that attempts to engineer equality of outcome conflict with individual freedom. Critics have also argued that educational chances have failed because differences in social background are too pronounced to be removed by educational reforms alone.
References in periodicals archive ?
com) shares with the Equality of Opportunity Project a focus on the present reality of the American Dream.
Dream," (35) equality of opportunity is an ideal ingrained in the
When it comes to dealing with inequality in economic outcomes, Americans apparently do not want government to get involved in readjusting the outcomes, but rather want it to renew its efforts in ensuring equality of opportunity.
1 Gallup survey, show that while 46% of Americans believe it is extremely or very important that the federal government in Washington reduce the income and wealth gap between the rich and poor, 70% say it is important for the government to increase equality of opportunity, and 82% say it is important for the government to grow and expand the economy.
Your country is well-known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society," he told the Catholic bishops of England and Wales gathered in Rome.
If access to effective medical services is now dependent on ability to pay, then equality of opportunity will not be protected to the degree universal access can achieve.
As stated by the editors in the book's introduction, the volume is "optimistic concerning the power of social policy to enhance equality of opportunity.
But today we have the first real documentation of what performers with disabilities and their advocates have long suspected: We have far to go to achieve true equality of opportunity.
Gender-blind equality of opportunity will remain a central feature of Western society.
A winner and runner-up were presented in each of the following categories: Demonstrating Commitment to Equality of Opportunity, Equality in Recruitment, Best Working Practices, Changing Behaviour, Working with the Community and New Business, sponsored by The Journal.
An ultra-left extremist in comparison with Mark Latham, Crosland urged the need to combine equality of opportunity with measures to actually equalise the distribution of rewards and privileges.
The Department of Social Development is mandated with break down barriers to equality of opportunity for Canadians.

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