The topic of inequality in education is one of society’s most contested and debated subjects. As extremes on each side battle, it out, they often forget that ideology does not map itself entirely to the real world.
Our lives are influenced by dozens of factors, each standing to affect the lives of our children, and by extension the quality of their education.
At the end of the day, we can only focus on what we can control: the education itself. The allocation of resources, infrastructure, availability of transport, uniforms, or any other factor depends on much broader socio-economic circumstances.
Equality of Outcome vs Equality of Opportunity
Before we begin our fight for equality, we must first define the term.
At the end of the day, inequality is the engine of nature. It drives evolution, and it is the main outcome that we desire. People who are ambitious, and who want to be the “best” are motivated by the idea of getting ahead and being excellent.
It isn’t mean or wrong to want to win a spelling bee or a football game.
In a healthy system, results will be unequal, and that is a good thing ultimately. In fact, ‘Education Inequality” is more of a political buzzword. The word “fairness” is much more descriptive.
Every child regardless of his/her background must have an opportunity to pursue an education. We must strive to give everyone a chance at life, and in today’s world, education is the primary path.
Some want to take this mentality to the extreme. For example, some parents and teachers want to eliminate the idea of scoring points in sports games. They also want to purge vocabulary and grades.
Saying that a soccer game has “winners” and “Losers” is perceived as too harsh. This shows a profound misunderstanding regarding human nature.
According to this mentality, giving some children an “A” while giving others an “F” will hurt the feelings of the latter child.
The worst thing that you can do in life is to kill a child’s ambition and desire to be excellent. You have to let them play the “game”. Our duty as their parents or educators is to make sure that the game is fair, and accessible to everyone.
Use technology to your advantage
Tech is a game-changer in almost every regard. However, strangely enough, applications were rarely seen as solutions to education inequality.
School systems and academia were some of the slowest areas in human society to adopt technology, despite being its originators. The recent pandemic forced the world into developing more thoughtful electronic education aids.
For example, a gigantic portion of a teacher’s time can be spent correcting and grading papers. Using an application to grade papers will make it much easier to get through the stacks of tests. In addition, the teacher’s hands will be freed.
Some students can fall behind, and if time is short, an entire class cannot be stalled just for one person. There simply wasn’t enough time. Well…now there is.
If we can manage to automate as many repetitive tasks as possible, it will free the educator to invest in struggling students.
Bring back the middle class
This point applies especially to college students. Millennials are the first generation in nearly 100 years that will be poorer than their parents.
This is a first for our recent history, as each successive generation saw better lives than the one that came before. And generation Z seems to be in an even tougher spot than the Millennials.
One of the primary reasons for education inequality is the melting of the middle class. Economically speaking, things are getting more and more extreme. Of course, as the middle vanishes, the extremes ( extremely poor and extremely wealthy) are getting more and more pronounced.
There are students whose parents pay for everything. They can easily attend classes, get enough sleep, relax, and eat good food. They socialize, wear good clothes, and can even rent the time of a tutor.
Meanwhile, there are students from poor backgrounds who have to maintain jobs just to pay tuition. Alternatively, they have to bury themselves in debt to pay.
It is possible to mitigate some of that stress, but not by much.
They aren’t paying for homework because they can’t do it themselves. They’re just managing their schedules, and freeing some time.
Treat the disease, not the symptoms
What’s the difference between a good doctor and a bad one?
A bad doctor treats only the symptoms and leaves the underlying cause alone. For example, it is not enough to bring down a fever. You always have to know why that fever occurred. If you fail to do so, the fever will come back when the medication wears off.
Education has the same problem. Most education inequality is not caused by the education system itself. These systems are government agencies, let’s not forget. We sink money in a bag whose bottom is torn.
If the government is corrupt or incompetent, there is little that the teachers can do. Blindly throwing money to fund a broken system will only fatten the pockets of those who ruined it in the first place.
Yet, there are a few simple solutions that can improve things drastically. This applies more to developing nations, although some areas of the USA also could benefit.
It is very common in developing areas for children to stop going to school because the school is too far from their home.
A bus route is not very expensive to implement, compared to other solutions. And this solves one of the most common causes of inequality in education.
Common intuition would dictate that “beggars can’t be choosers”. If your budget is small, and there’s a lack of teachers, the instinct is to hire everyone with a pulse. Also, there is a reticence to punish poor performance for the same reason.
That logic is flawed when it comes to children’s lives and education. Inequality in schools can be generated by the attitude of a poorly trained (or poorly behaved) educator. High standards for hiring are mandatory, not optional.
When it comes to better schooling and reducing inequality, people often think that we need NASA-level technology and flying robots. That is not true.
The problems that keep millions of children away from school are relatively easy to solve. Bus routes, better manuals, healthy competition, and the use of third-party technologies are relatively cheap and easy to implement.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :