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Educational leadership for social justice in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Spain

Patricia Silva (Universitat de Lleida, Lieida, Spain)
Charles L. Slater (Department of Education Leadership, California State University Long Beach, Long Beach, California, USA)
Gema Lopez Gorosave (Autonomous University of Baja California, Ensenada, Mexico)
Victoria Cerdas (Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica)
Nancy Torres (Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica)
Serafin Antunez (Universidad de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain)
Fernando Briceno (Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of school leaders to provide social justice in three contexts: Costa Rica, Mexico, and Spain.


A qualitative study was conducted under the interpretative tradition characterized by a search for an understanding of the social world from the point of view of a school director from each of the three countries. Interviews were conducted to determine their views on social justice, the actions they took, and the obstacles they confronted.


The directors conceived of education as a right and believed in equal educational opportunity, and fair distribution of resources. They used a variety of methods to promote social justice, increase social cohesion, and provide emotional education. Obstacles came from educational authorities who tried to control rather than support their efforts. They were committed to working in schools with marginalized populations, but their efforts had taken a toll on their personal and professional lives.

Research limitations/implications

The research looked at just three principals whose experiences were unique to their context. However, the study has the advantage of looking at schools not typically included in educational research.

Practical implications

The work of these school directors underscores the need for preparation in skills, knowledge, and values to work for social justice.


The value of this research is to illuminate the narratives of school leaders. Working across borders can provide insights about the possibilities of change and strength to persevere.



Silva, P., Slater, C.L., Lopez Gorosave, G., Cerdas, V., Torres, N., Antunez, S. and Briceno, F. (2017), "Educational leadership for social justice in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Spain", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 55 No. 3, pp. 316-333.



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