Equity in Education

Equity in Education

In an effort to understand “Equity in Education”, there must be a distinction between equality and equity since they are often used interchangeably and thus, their meaning confused.

According to the Oxford dictionary, equality refers to the state of being equal; sameness especially in status, rights and opportunities. Everyone is provided with the same opportunities since all persons have the same rights and are believed to having the same status.

Equity, on the other hand, according to Oxford dictionary, is defined as being fair and impartial.  Equity in education refers therefore to the systems that support or allow for the scaffolding of learning to take place. Opportunities are created with an understanding that children come from various backgrounds, ethnic groups and interests so their needs would vary.

Equity in education means that all children have a greater chance of success as all children receive what they need and not just simply giving every child the same regardless his or her circumstances.

There are several factors that contribute to inequity in education.  Some of these factors include:

  • Socioeconomic
  • Lack of parental support due to limited knowledge
  • Undervaluing the importance of education
  • Peer pressure

How can we therefore, create equity in education?

  • We must consider effective teaching methods and curricula that meet the needs of our children.  The curricula and teaching methods must match the evolving needs of the children and those charged with the responsibility of developing the curricula and teachers who deliver must consider the uniqueness of each child and create learning experiences according to the needs, interests and learning styles. This model of differentiated learning lays the foundation of the successful completion of studies for all children.
  • Allocation of resources should be equitably available so that children who are furthest behind get more so that they can catch up.  It would not be equitable that children from low-income and children from high-income be allocated the equal quantity and quality of resources.  Equity would ensure that children of lower income brackets have access to a higher quantity and better quality resources.  Equity also requires that these children from the lower income brackets have access to the best teachers and schools that are well funded.

  • Changing teachers and parents’ attitude towards education.  Teachers working in public schools where there is a greater ratio of students from low income groups very often are demotivated and are likely to become frustrated because of the many challenges they face on a daily basis.  These teachers sometimes have low expectations of the students and the students also do not expect the teachers to have high expectations of them. This would result in high absenteeism among both teachers and students. Some parents’ attitude towards education is also a contributing factor to the inequity in education.  Some parents are demotivated and frustrated as they also face many challenges while others view education as unnecessary since previous generations have been able to survive without it.
  • We must also consider the difficulties that teachers face in motivating students who live or attend schools in depressed communities. It is difficult to motivate them to consider taking their education seriously since there are persons in the area who appear to be successful as they can afford luxury vehicles and are able financially support persons from the community who may be in need while teachers, for example may not be able to afford similar type vehicles and lifestyles. 
  • Demographics – demographics also play an important role in contributing to equity in education.  Persons living in rural areas more than likely would be at a disadvantage because of the cultural differences, limited access to resources which may be due to inconsistent availability or exorbitant costs.

It is worth the effort to ensure that there is not only equality in education but also equity in education and the two must not be confused.

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