Online learning is leaving disadvantaged students behind.
A coalition of education and charitable organisations (including the IEU), concerned about growing inequality in classrooms, propelled by digital exclusion, has written to the Minister for Education in South Australia.
Why has the coalition taken this action?
“Inequality in Australian education is increasing. School education, according to the OECD and UNICEF, is not treating Australian children fairly.”
The shift to online learning was thrust upon schools through the urgent and unexpected COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. COVID still persists today, with the underlying threat of the Delta variant now affecting not just adult education staff but students as well.
The need to learn from home for disadvantaged students is problematic at a number of levels, such as:
- Low-income families may not have internet access or digital devices suitable to connect to their school learning portal.
- Loss of employment (during lockdowns and/or ongoing employment) may prevent families from affording the required digital devices and internet access.
- The environment at their home may not be conducive to learning – be that through the impact of resident family members/friends, domestic violence or other domestic issues that impede the student.
These are just some of the issues that may magnify learning disadvantage.
Community libraries may offer some access for students; however, this may not be available to a student without appropriate care assistance or transport.
The IEU is calling upon the SA Government to urgently develop a plan that will provide the resources and devices for these students.
We hope that common sense prevails and action is taken to ensure no student falls behind.