The research investigated how principals in Israel’s Jewish and Arab school systems perceive and practice their role in promoting equitable education to bridge socio-economic and pedagogic gaps. It asked how Jewish and Arab principals understand the concept of social justice and what they do in order to promote social justice reality in their schools. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 Arab and Jewish principals. Analysis of interviews indicated that Israeli education policy perpetuates ethnic and social gaps. The principals reported different personal trajectories that shaped their perceptions of social and described strategies used to promote social justice.
This comparative study may contribute to the understanding of ways in which enlightened educators in a society dominated by inequitable practices can overcome political and cultural barriers and increase the potential for equity and social justice, in this case in Arab and Jewish schools in Israel. Activities to promote social justice in schools are essential to ensure mutual enrichment between diverse groups in a multicultural state, and educational leaders therefore play a crucial role. The study’s contribution stems from its ability to clarify difficulties encountered in the promulgation of social justice in a multicultural reality, split by political conflicts and sometimes racism. During principal training courses, there should be attempts to increase awareness of the managerial cohort to the challenges of diversity and the need to ameliorate the effects of socio - economic gaps through education. They should be provided with knowledge concerning discrepancies in access to education for weaker populations and the potential of education to alter socio - political inequalities by personally and collectively empowering underprivileged populations.
The rise in numbers of diasporas of diverse cultures, ideologies, and faiths, especially due to the inter-ethnic wars of the last few years, makes it highly significant to understand how educational leadership is perceived and informed in different cultural, social and belief systems. By problematizing 'difference' and pointing to multiple shifts of meaning and their subsequent implications and consequences, we can perhaps extend our understanding of social justice in diverse cultural arenas.