Addressing inequalities between students and schools during COVID-19
Beatriz Gallo Cordoba is a research fellow in Education Futures who works in the area of quantitative educational research.
We know that income, health and education inequalities are closely interlinked. Those who are disadvantaged in one of these areas tend also to be disadvantaged in the others. Emergencies usually put the livelihoods of those already in disadvantage at a much higher risk, and the emergency caused by COVID-19 is no exception. The increasing shut-down of schools across Australia has highlighted the inequalities inherent in taking students out of the relatively ‘level-playing field’ of school. Not all students live in well-resourced households with parents who are able to support their school work. Hence, COVID-19 has the potential to exacerbate existing education inequalities. Therefore, in the short-term, it is crucial to provide additional support to traditionally disadvantaged students and schools when students return to school.
In the meantime, those who work from home rely on those who do not to keep their lives running, from grocery store employees to courier drivers and health care workers. Hence, securing quality schooling for all children in times like these becomes not only a matter of social justice but an essential task to keep the system working. Hopefully, COVID-19 will encourage the social and political will required to promote the more holistic and thorough reforms that are required to tackle inequality between schools. If not because it is fair, at least to be prepared for the emergencies that the future holds.
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