Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Isaac Prilleltensky

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member

Second Advisor

Susan James

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member


In 1993, the Ontario Ministry of Education and Training (MET) created a draft document on the topic of antiracism and ethnocultural equity in school boards. This document contained guidelines for anti-oppression policy and practice within schools. Many stakeholders within the education system and society debate whether or not an education for equity is being provided in schools. I chose to respond to this debate by listening to the voices of an unheard stakeholder group: students. Two methods of data collection, questionnaires and focus groups, were utilized in my study. Seventy-one students participated in the questionnaire section, and six students further participated in a focus group. I assessed the depth and breadth of students’ definitions of equity, racism, and sexism. I also asked students to evaluate the quality of their entire education based on visionary anti-oppression guidelines collaboratively created by the MET. Results from the questionnaire indicated that most students were unaware of the social justice aspect of equity and still many more were unable to provide a definition of equity. Student definitions of racism and sexism did not include any recognition of systemic oppression, and only two students acknowledged the Western historical patterns of these social problems. Only three of the ten equity guidelines had more than 50% of students agreeing that they occurred more often than “sometimes.” Students gave the schools a C- (61%) grade for overall anti-racist/anti-sexist education and the focus groups corroborated these results. Overall, the student participants stated that: 1) they and their student peers did not consider themselves as active participants in the curriculum; 2) community members were rarely participants in the classroom curriculum; 3) women and mulit-ethnocultural role models were rarely seen in their studies; and, 4) accurate information on the diversity of ethnocultural values and traditions within Canada was not presented in schools. Altogether these findings reveal a need for critical pedagogy in schools and an increase in the amount of equity content within the curriculum. An education for equity report card for the MET and recommendations for action are included within. The statistical analysis of my use of the MET equity guidelines indicated good reliability and validity, thus providing evidence to support the utility of introducing this questionnaire into schools to annually evaluate the quality of students’ education for equity.

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