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Equity and/for Diversity

Monaliza Maximo CHIAN, Jeremy NG, Lily LEI, Andrew Pau HOANG

The terms “equity” and “diversity” are ever-present in discussions related to providing socially just education for all, with multiple definitions and conceptualisations. In education, equity emerges from critiques of the term equality, which emphasises providing the same resources, opportunities and treatment to all students. Contrastingly, equity emphasises the redistribution of common goods due to historical and structural inequalities of condition, “to create systems and schools that share a greater likelihood of being equal” (de los Santos et al., 2020, p. 2). In other words, whereas equality aims to give students the same supports with the assumption that they can be equally successful, equity aims to ensure students will be successful by providing them supports in response to their diverse needs. “Diversity”, however, is situationally and contextually defined. Generally, it encompasses the various characteristics, identities and interactions that exist within classrooms, schools and communities (OECD, 2018).

Equity for diversity embraces students’ diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences, recognising the benefits these differences bring to learning communities (Forghani-Arani et al., 2019). Promoting and sustaining equity for diversity thus requires understanding past and current diversity issues, and critical reflection upon one’s own values, perspectives, and practices. This can support educators to systematically leverage the depth and dynamics of diverse learning communities, identifying appropriate resources and opportunities to meet students’ needs. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of adapting educational equity issues to changing learning conditions. For example, shifts to remote/online learning have laid bare the necessity of ensuring that every student has equitable access to digital tools, digital literacy, and technical learning supports.

Below are some relevant and timely school examples, internet resources, and scholarly contributions that raise issues, considerations, challenges as we rethink and re-envision ways to design, create, and research learning opportunities and teaching processes to provide equitable resources and opportunities to meet the diverse needs of all students.


Forghani-Arani, N., Cerna, L., & Bannon, M. (2019). The lives of teachers in diverse classrooms. OECD Education Working Paper, No.198. OECD.

de los Santos, P. J., Moreno-Guerrero, A., Marin-Marin, J., & Costa R. S. (2020). The term equity in education: A literature review with scientific mapping in Web of Science. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(10), 3526.

OECD. (2018). Equity in Education: Breaking Down Barriers to Social Mobility, PISA, OECD.

Equity and/for Diversity

Highly-Cited Academic Articles (Based on analysed results from Web of Science)

Khalifa, M. A., Gooden, M. A., & Davis J. E. (2016). Culturally responsive school leadership: A synthesis of the literature. Review of Education Research, 86(4), 1272-1311.

Tikly, L., & Barrett, A. M. (2011). Social justice, capabilities and the quality of education in low income countries. International Journal of Educational Development, 31(1), 3-14.

Peters, S. J. (2021). The challenges of achieving equity within public school gifted and talented programs. Gifted Child Quarterly.

Sailor, W. (2015). Advances in schoolwide inclusive school reform. Remedial and Special Education, 36(2), 94-99.


Internet Resources

YouTube Videos

Dr. Sherri. (2014, April 5). Strategies for teaching culturally diverse students.

GEM Report UNESCO. (2020, June 23). Inclusion and education: All means all animation.

K-State College of Education. (2016, October 5). A walk in my shoes: Social justice in education full documentary.

Tedx Talks. (2014, March 11). The consciousness gap in education – An equity imperative – Dorinda Carter Andrews.


American Consortium for Equity in Education.

Kampen, M. (2020, November 6). 7 ways to support diversity in the classroom [With examples]. Prodigy Education.

OECD. (n.d.). Equity in education – Strengthening educational opportunities.

The Center for Learning Equity.


Articles Published in/about the Region

Kwok, D. (2016). School experience of Chinese sexual minority students in Hong Kong. Journal of LGBT Youth, 13(4), 378-396.

Liu, J., Peng, P., & Luo, L. (2020). The relation between family socioeconomic status and academic achievement in China: A meta-analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 32(1), 49-76.

Szeto, E., & Cheng, A. Y. N. (2018). How do principals practise leadership for social justice in diverse school settings? A Hong Kong case study. Journal of Educational Administration, 56(1), 50-68.

Tan, C. Y., & Hew, T. K. F. (2017). Information technology, mathematics achievement, and educational equity in developed economies. Educational Studies, 43(4), 371-390.

Yin, H., & Chai, C. (2020). Special issue: Catering for diversity. East China Normal University (ECNU) Review of Education, Vol. 3(4), 607-761.

Yuen, M. T., Chan, S., Chan, C., Fung, D. C. L., Cheung, W. M., Kwan, T., & Leung, F. K. S. (2018). Differentiation in key learning areas for gifted students in regular classes: A project for primary school teachers in Hong Kong. Gifted Education International, 34(1), 36-46.


School Examples

Aberdeen Technical School. (n.d.). Student development and support. (Chinese only)

Boys and Girls Clubs Association - Project Touch. (n.d.). Workshops for schools and social workers. (Chinese only)

Education Bureau. (n.d.). TEKLA at senior secondary level: Subject-based strategies – Annotated exemplars on implementation practices for the senior secondary curriculum and catering for learner diversity.

Hong Kong Taoist Association Wun Tsuen School. (n.d.). Learning and support.

Salesians of Don Bosco Ng Siu Mui Secondary School. (n.d.). Learning and teaching. (Chinese only)



HKU Faculty of Education - Centre for Advancement in Inclusive and Special Education (CAISE).

HKU Faculty of Education - Centre for Advancement of Chinese Language Education and Research (CACLER). (n.d.). Teaching Chinese for non-Chinese speaking students. (Chinese only)

HKU Faculty of Education. (n.d.). Quality Education Fund Thematic Network - Tertiary institutes on catering for culturally and linguistically diverse learners in primary mathematics classrooms – Developing a professional network.

HKU Faculty of Social Sciences. (n.d.). Jockey Club Lab for cultural diversity study.


Extended Readings

Aguilar, S. J. (2020). Guidelines and tools for promoting digital equity. Information and Learning Sciences.

Ainscow, M. (2016). Diversity and equity: A global education challenge. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 51, 143–155.

Flores, N., & Rosa, J. (2015). Undoing appropriateness: Raciolinguistic ideologies and language diversity in education. Harvard Educational Review, 85(2), 149-171.

Forghani-Arani, N., Cerna, L., & Bannon, M. (2019). The lives of teachers in diverse classrooms. OECD Education Working Paper, No.198. OECD.

Handover Research. (2017). Closing the gap: Creating equity in the classroom.

Maloney, T., Hayes, N., Crawford-Garrett, K., & Sassi, K. (2019). Preparing and supporting teachers for equity and racial justice: Creating culturally relevant, collective, intergenerational, co-created spaces. Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 41(4-5), 252-281.

OECD. (2018). Equity in Education: Breaking Down Barriers to Social Mobility, PISA, OECD.

Poekert, P., Swaffield, S., Demir, E. K., & Wright, S. (2020). Leadership for professional learning towards educational equity: A systematic literature review. Professional Development in Education, 46(11), 1-22.



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