Social justice is undeniably grounded in efforts at circumventing provisions that seek to uphold ostracism and exclusionary practices which have permeated South Africa and many other societies worldwide for extensive periods of time. Vast incongruities and/or inequalities between better resourced urban communities and neglected rural areas impinge on the provision of and access to education. This paper, grounded in a distributive paradigm that views social justice as a proper distribution of social benefits and burdens among members of society, traverses the positive and negative features of rural education related to social justice. It concedes that difference is an inherent, inevitable and indispensable feature of social existence and education, arguing that rural education needs to embrace difference, shape demands and model social benefits in accordance with the realities of a particular rural setting. This implies that social justice should be perceived as a humanising process – a response to human diversity in terms of ability, socio-economic circumstances, choice and rights.