Weely Reflections

Debate #2 Reflection – Has Technology Made to a More Equitable Society?

Today’s education technology has lifted the limitation to the walls of a classroom, especially for students with disabilities. We are entering a time where equity in education has the potential to be closer than ever before. According to the opening debate statements by the agree side, technology has created more equitable opportunities for people with disabilities to access and participate in education, e.g. mobility aid, hearing aids, computer software and hardware, so that they can function more independently in this society. Same as children with disabilities, they are more likely to actively participate in classroom activities and make meaningful progress. Education technology helps students to access education globally if they lack of information and materials in order to close academic achievement gaps comparing with students with sufficient learning resources. If you look at this point of view, technology has made to a more equitable society!

But what if students have access to technology only happened in areas with high socioeconomic status like the disagree side explained in the debate, where students have more resources, parental supports, and sufficient devices? Low socioeconomic areas seems still struggle with accessing Internet, resources, and devices. I think I am still on the disagree side of this topic.

别让孩子输在起跑线上,孩子的起跑线到底在哪里? - 生活资讯(存满娱乐网)
“Don’t let your children lose on the ‘starting line'”
Image from https://www.cunman.com/new/1cc086f58b2d464a900094b6ce4eba09

I come from China where education has extremely inequitable. Nowadays, there is a popular saying among parents: Don’t let your children lose at the starting line. Like the picture above, if parents of high socioeconomic status can provide students with more resources (education funding, technology, etc.). Their children look like run in a fancy car. Compared with poor parents, they don’t have much more resources given to their children. Their children look like run with a poor cart and have to work much harder in order to catch up with the rich children. As shown in the following example:

A mother living in Shanghai describes the demands of her six-year-old child’s education, saying, “In kindergarten, children already need to spend the whole weekend learning pinyin.” Pinyin is the system of romanization of the characters based on their tones and pronunciations of Standard Chinese. “Then there’s mathematics, which includes addition and subtraction up to 20, and English,” she adds. Without this preparation, there is little hope that a student will be able to “catch up” to other students and the next grade’s curriculum, she says.

The urban-rural division contributes to education inequality most, followed in decreasing significance by social stratification division, age, gender disparity and regional gaps (Yang et al., 2014).

Unequal distribution of good quality educational resources between urban and rural areas. For example, although AI devices have a lot of critiques in use with students, schools that can afford AI devices are all in the big cities, like Beijing, Shanghai, etc. Compared with poor areas, students are still struggle with having classrooms and textbooks so that they can join the class.  The education resouces have a big gap beween urban and rural areas.

The AI revolution can supercharge learning in school | Comment | The Times
Image from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-ai-revolution-can-supercharge-learning-in-school-xnv0vql8r
Image from https://sccei.fsi.stanford.edu/reap/research/contracting_for_dreams_in_ningshan_county_shaanxi

Educational unfairness has commonly happened everywhere in the world. Education inequality is living with social inequality. Lacking funding, inability to access the Internet and parental socioeconomic status all contribute to this problem. How could we reduce education inequality? Policies and management changes are needed make to address existing inequalities in the system to reduce social inequality. Thus, education inequality can be reduced.


  • Nicole Romanow

    Hey Echo,

    Great post! I really like your summary of the debate, but also your additions. I can not believe the expectations of a kindergarten student in Shanghai! I have a daughter in kindergarten and that sounds like years above her curriculum!

    I would also say there was an urban-rural divide in Saskatchewan. I can not accurately say that there is one now, but when growing up I had cousins who went to rural schools and there where differences in access to technology then.

    I agree with you that it has to be bigger change – policy and government changes!

    • Echo

      Thank you for reading my post Nicole! K-12 students in China have much more workload than K-12 students in Canada. My niece is only 11 years old. She has so much classes, such as private tutors for English, math and piano, extracurricular like badminton, public speaking, swimming, dancing, etc. She is commute from different classes. It’s very common in China because other children will learn these too! Their parents don’t want their children lose on the starting line! When my niece come to Canada for a visit for one semester, she said Canadian students look like in paradise. They have so much time to play! That’s the biggest difference I found compared with Canadian educational system and Chinese educational system in K-12.

  • Kimberly Kipp

    Thank you for your thoughtful post, Echo, and your additional insights into education outside of Canada. I am always curious about how much we are told or shown online about other countries. My husband and I lived in Australia for quite some time, and when I would speak to people at home (after some major Australian event would occur) no one would know what I was talking about.
    As to the urban/rural digital divide, I can only speak to what I have experienced. Pre-pandemic, I taught in a small urban centre at a low socioeconomic school. We had very minimal access to tech. My friend (same school division) teaches at an affluent rural school about 45 minutes from where I live….they have access to every tech known to humankind. Sometimes urban/rural areas create a digital divide, but I feel that demographics often play a bigger role in access to tech. Thanks for the great post!

    • Echo

      Thank you for reading my post and sharing your experience Kimberly! It might be very difficult for you during pandemic and all the classes move to online overnight. Digital divide is common between low and high socioeconomic school. I feel we should not give all pressures to rural schools. Getting internet to the school is just one piece of closing the digital divide. Moreover, earby community institutions, like libraries, churches, and other public facilities, need to develop their digital resources.

  • Kelly

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and what it is like in China. The expectations are vastly different in China than they are in the Western world. I have seen many times when kiddos have newly joined my classroom from China, how different they are in terms of their behaviour and expectations, as well as what they already know. Have you found it difficult transitioning to learning in Canada? Or has this been somewhat of an easier transition?

    • Echo

      Hi Kelly,

      Thank you for reading my blog! For me, I didn’t find it any difficult because I come to Canada after I graduate from university. Interestingly, when I took biology and chemistry when I first study at the university for nursing, I found it quite simple because of all knowledge I’ve already learned in high school even though I graduated from high school 10 years ago! What is difficult is the language transition, not the knowledge transition. I can understand Chinese students in your class, like their expectations and knowledge. I am not sure which grade you teach, but Chinese students probably learned already in their schools in China and their parents expect them to learn more!


  • shivali

    Hey Echo

    Great post Echo, I really like your blog .yes educational unfairness has commonly happened in the world but with proper polices and management strategies will reduce educational inequality.

    • Echo

      Hi Shivali,

      Thank you for reading my blog! I agree with you that policy can plan an important role in reducing education inequality. Plus policy, I also think socioeconomic conditions for different areas. If a low socioeconomic area, although they have good policy, they still cannot solve the problem because they don’t have sufficient economic power to support the policy.


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