Educational equity: what it is and why it’s important

Educational Equity two girls lockers school

Educational equity continues to be one of the hottest topics in the schooling world. It starts with the basic assumption that all children deserve equal opportunities in order to succeed in learning. This is especially true in the school environment because they lay the foundations for their future.

Follow along as we take a closer look at equity in education and a related and equally vital topic, digital equity.

What is equity in education?

In a nutshell, educational equity means shaping an educational system where students of all kinds can thrive, learn and perform at an acceptable academic level.

According to the OECD, equity in education depends on two major factors:

  • Fairness regroups one’s personal conditions and background. It translates into preventing and prohibiting discrimination based on gender, culture or socioeconomic status.
  • Inclusion measures a basic, comprehensive standard of education for all students. For instance, every pupil should be able to write, read and perform simple math, and they should be allowed the proper time and support to get there.

Equity vs equality in education

Understanding the difference between equity and equality is essential for educators looking to build effective strategies for a better educational system. Both are indispensable in a classroom context, but while the two terms seem synonymous, they’re actually different:

  • Equality in education means giving all students the same resources and opportunities, e.g., funding, tools, materials and quality of schooling.
  • Equity refers to giving learners the kind of opportunities and resources they need depending on their particular situations. For example, a student with ADHD needs specific support based on their specific needs.

Why is equity important in education?

We have highlighted above how equity is essential in ensuring all students achieve the same positive outcomes despite their backgrounds or situation.

From the teachers’ side, it means considering each student’s unique characteristics to promote diversity in learning. That includes various backgrounds, from unprivileged conditions to cultural and language differences, special education needs (SEN) and learning difficulties. Therefore, educators and schools should pinpoint the best teaching strategies according to individual needs to bolster everyone’s engagement.

On top of reducing discrimination, focusing on equity is also crucial because it positively impacts the overall classroom environment and society. When students feel included regardless of their difficulties, they will be motivated to continue their education after primary school. Furthermore, promoting diversity helps students develop empathy, as they’ll be more likely to extend compassion to peers today and in the future.

Speaking of the future, educational equity empowers all students to reach their potential and goals. In the long term, this will open doors to equal job opportunities, create diverse workplaces where they can thrive despite where they come from, and ultimately help them find their spot in society.

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How to achieve equity in education

Equitably operating a classroom can be one of the biggest challenges for educators because it requires additional attention for students with specific difficulties. Here’s a few strategies that may help in achieving educational equity:

  • Employ equity-centred classroom activities. Inclusive discussions and assignments can encourage students to embrace diversity and accept differences.
  • Keep families and guardians posted. This is essential to cooperate and foster a healthy learning journey for their kids.
  • Always appreciate the importance of assessment. Achieving equity is an ever-evolving process that requires pace adjustments and constant improvement. That’s why regularly monitoring students’ performance can make a difference when struggling to find the best strategies.
  • Opt for alternatives that are feasible for everyone. It’s pretty clear that the “one-strategy-fits-all” mindset isn’t the best teaching choice for diverse classrooms. For example, incorporating inclusive media and online resources instead of traditional materials could do the trick. For this reason, ensuring every pupil is equipped with the tools and resources they need is key.

Because it’s not enough to be merely “extra careful,” support from legislation can be enormously helpful in creating equity in today’s schools by allocating additional funds to help students with unique needs and equip them to overcome challenges. Technology, for example, is one powerful means to support teachers in overcoming inequity and creating an equitable learning environment.

Digital equity in education: what it is and why it’s important

Digital equity is a facet of educational equity that today’s school systems must take into account. In particular, K-12 schools are key to closing the digital divide between students to build digital skills that will foster and enrich the next generation.

While access to devices and bandwidth is a major issue alone, schools must keep in mind how transformative digital tools can be for disadvantaged students. For instance, consider text-to-speech features for visually impaired students or those with reading difficulties. Or tools that break down language barriers. Or even voice recognition and mind mapping technologies. The list is long, proving that inclusive technology can make a difference in achieving classroom equity.

Above all, promoting affordable, inclusive and reliable access to digital tools and the internet is essential to building digital literacy and managing successful digital transformation.

Accomplishing this requires more than equipping students with more Edtech. Establishing digital skills and competencies for educators – and, where possible, for parents – is also essential in pursuing digital equity in K-12 schools.

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