Past and present international conventions including the Sustainable Development Goals 2016-2030 agenda affirm as societal ideals diversity with its allies of equality and inclusion. Diversity recognises and values difference in its broadest sense and creates culture and practices to recognise, respect, value and embrace differences for everyone’s benefits. People can be considered or consider themselves different due to their demographics such as age, sex, education, religion, etc., and social or other characteristics. Diversity is properly managed with the achievement and mutual progression of equality and inclusion.
Equality seeks to create a fairer society where everyone can participate and has the opportunity to fulfil their potential. It is concerned with treating people fairly.
Inclusion refers to the process or programme for positive individual experience within the institution, workplace, or wider society, and the extent to which persons feel valued and included. Equal opportunity can exist when we recognise and value difference and work together for inclusion. Adventist educational commitment to diversity, equality, and inclusion ensures that vulnerable and diverse persons have a right to be recognised as ordinary citizens first and foremost, not marginalised and labelled (unless where access to specialist care for them is concerned), live in safety in their community of choice, and have access to age-appropriate accommodation and services which address issues of equity and cultural diversity.
Sensitivity to diversity management involves an understanding of how to manage diversity in Adventist education’s organisational setting. As a business concept, diversity management is defined as formalised organisational systems, processes, or practices developed and implemented for the purpose of effectively managing diversity (Yang & Konrad, 2011). Douglas (2005) admonished Adventist educators to be serious about diversity management in the context of their society’s multiculturalism, as well as the demographic, cultural, and ethnic shifts of our diverse world. His caution to Adventist educators is:
In an increasingly multicultural and diverse world, Seventh-day Adventist educators can end up in places they never intended to go if they fail to embrace and value diversity as a powerful force in shaping the future of Adventist education. Learning about diversity is a process. Learn it well, and you will be rewarded. Fail to do so, and you may end up in the wrong places (Douglas, 2005, pp.21)
Adventist education can benefit from formalising the conditions for managing diversity within its own faith-based and doctrine-led context. Adventist education must clearly articulate in its policies guidelines for preserving the Adventist identity. Yang and Konrad (2011) strongly recommend this formalisation of diversity management through legislation, policy, and institutionalised networks and practical day-to-day activities. Kalev, Dobbin and Kelly (2006) attest that the formalisation of diversity management creates a culture that is institutionalised and linked by practice and can be evaluated across the Adventist educational systems, institutions, and agencies. Lest Adventist educators forget, our Master Educator modeled social acceptance and pronounced as heirs to the kingdom infants and their mothers, despite the unfair treatment given to those with low status in those days (Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14, and Luke 18:16). Adventist education can be more proactive in social and spiritual engagement with stakeholders, staff, and students who are considered different and lift up Jesus (John 12:32) to save them to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). Social boundaries must be eliminated for Adventist education to achieve its true educational objective. “The true object of education is to restore the image of God in the soul. The first and most precious knowledge is the knowledge of Christ…” (Christian Education, p.236.1).