In Aotearoa New Zealand, significant pre-existing inequalities across the digital divides have been exacerbated and highlighted by the recent COVID-19 lockdowns. During the weeks spent at Level 3 and 4, many parents were working remotely where possible, and simultaneously the majority of school students were required to swiftly adjust to remote learning. With the education system being variably prepared for such a swift change to online teaching and remote learning, a number of challenges and inequalities have come to the fore in recent months. These need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
This report provides compelling evidence of disparities in digital education during the COVID-19 response. It shows the positive effects of addressing these digital divides on the outlook of both rangatahi and their parents about their futures.
- Identify and build on the capacity of iwi to promote and enhance digital inclusiveness
- Ensure greater co-determination between the Ministry of Education and iwi organisations to create effective partnerships so as to ensure effective digital inclusion
- Support more flaxroots research, partnering with iwi and Māori communities, to assess educational impacts and needs in the post-COVID-19 and recovery periods
- Expedite universal provision of suitable devices to ensure each student has access to their own device to promote equitable learning opportunities and outcomes
- Address the connectivity barriers, with urgency, to ensure all students have appropriate and sufficient access to the internet for online learning and support
- Provide accelerated learning and additional tutoring to help students recover from lockdown impacts on their learning so they can achieve equitable success in valued outcomes, including national qualifications
- Provide one-to-one teaching support for teachers/kaiako and parents/whānau assisting students in remote learning
- Provide free access to culturally responsive psychosocial support for students, parents and teachers throughout the recovery period, especially during the next six months, and thereafter ensure adequate psychosocial support capability in all schools and kura kaupapa to meet ongoing needs
- Address the ongoing structural drivers underpinning the digital divide and educational challenges for Māori, through an inter-sectoral approach
- Support equitable funding and resourcing of Māori-medium education in the preschool and compulsory sector based on need.