The Difference Between Equity & Equality in Education

Education is one of the most significant foundations of gaining a happy, healthy, and sophisticated well-being, being an aspect of an individual’s life that is crucial for growth and development. The act of learning and the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, or beliefs are made easier through education. As the world keeps developing and as individuals become more knowledgeable everyday, many countries are striving to ensure that all people have adequate access to education. Within the field of education, there is a huge difference between two terms: equality and equity

The two terms, equality and equity, have been used interchangeably, but not many people are aware of the distinction between them. Equality in education is the provision of equal treatment, access, and opportunity to resources, regardless of one’s background or necessities. In spite of how equality is important, it frequently fails to fulfill unique needs. For instance, providing each child with a laptop to take home would not help those who do not have access to the Internet at home. Even though an educational institution may promote equality and equal access to resources, some children are still at risk of facing hardships, due to individualized circumstances.

On the other hand, equity in education guarantees that students from low-income families, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups receive educational tools, resources, and assistance that are tailored to their specific needs, rather than providing the same amount for all individuals. For example, equity considers the reality that a child with a specific disability requires different physical assistance at school than a peer who does not. It ensures that everyone has access to the resources they need in order to succeed, regardless of race or socioeconomic status. Equity is more purposeful compared to equality, and while it requires more effort, it is believed to be far more meaningful and effective.

Illustrating Equality VS Equity - Interaction Institute for Social Change :  Interaction Institute for Social Change
(Credit: Angus Maguire | Interaction Institute for Social Change)

To describe the difference between these two equality and equity in terms of fairness, equality is concerned with what is fair within a group, while equity focuses on what is fair for an individual. Many people believe that it is more vital and efficient to prioritize the needs of an individual, rather than providing the same amount of assistance to a large group. In fact, for English Language Learning (ELL) students, educational equity is critical because they require personalized educational resources to support their academic and English language proficiency. Because of the cognitive and economic benefits, educational systems must understand that ELL kids should be incentivized to acquire both native and English language skills. Educators have the potential to merge together to build a more equitable learning environment for ELL students by offering resources, community support, and familial outreach through educational equity. Today, individual children from a variety of backgrounds need equity in education in order to succeed, because according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, in 2016, educational disparity caused 2.9 percent of Hispanic students to be pushed behind between grades 9 and 12. 

The Costs of Inequality: Education Is the Key to It All | US News

There are several approaches to promote more equity in education and enhance the education quality for people of all backgrounds by altering classroom dynamics. Firstly, educators can practice cultural responsiveness and ensure that all people of diverse cultures are placed in a welcome environment to learn. Educators can further promote personalized learning and gain the abilities to comprehend the specific requirements of children, putting together individualized instructional plans. Moreover, educators can also provide committed support from an early age by assisting in the cultivation of strengths and the development of critical skills for overcoming obstacles. Lastly, educators can acknowledge community engagement to encourage a variety of perspectives to examine and correct disparities, improving educational fairness for all children.

In conclusion, while the two terms, equality and equity, seem to have a resemblance in spelling and definition, many people do not realize the significant distinction between them. In spite of how education is a crucial component of an individual’s life, the quality of education on a global scale is still yet to be developed to its fullest capacity. The first step toward creating a classroom where every child can be successful is to understand the huge difference between equity and equality. Educators can then take efforts to better address the issues that struggling students encounter. 


Feature Image: GETTY IMAGES

Tiana Thwin

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