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.
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.
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.