Thank you for a thoughtful and varied discussion about equity and inclusion, and for raising so many interesting points. Here’s my summary of the themes so far. Please feel free to add any comments below and continue the discussion. Warmest wishes, Alice
How do we recognise success? Opportunity has been identified as an important indicator, in particular the idea of opportunity for all. Opening up education to be accessed by as many people as possible. Equity is implied by the suggestion that the same opportunities should be available to everyone. This is echoed in the idea of democratisation of education, which encompasses open access, equity, social inclusion and empowerment. Opportunities for all also implies that educational provision needs to accommodate a range of people, as many as possible. There is also a sense of helping those on the margins of society into the mainstream through education, of giving people dignity through education. Good health is important for effective participation in education, so we can help students and potential srtudents through health education.
Thinking about the attributes of people we aim to reach through education, contributors identified a wide range of factors: gender, socio-economic background, health, age, culture, religious belief, educational background, disability. Equity and inclusion are seen as opportunity and success for all people irrespective of these factors. In particular, gender equality irrespective of other factors such as socio-economic background. Each group has its own challenges, for example, older learners are more motivated than younger learners, but have more responsibilities and are more likely to drop out through lack of time. Some specific groups are supported through enrolment into education, including prisoners, transgender and sex workers.
In terms of measuring success, we need to agree what is equity and what is inclusion. A shared or universally-agreed rubric, with defining attributes of equity and inclusion, would be helpful. We can set key performance areas (KPA) and performance indicators (KPI) with targets. Health and age are important factors that affect completion of studies. Institutional measures are not the whole story. In some instances when we have declared success, using the predetermined and agreed benchmarks, someone may decide that this is not success for them.
Successful course completion is another indicator of success. The best way to meet the diverse needs of students is to diversify the mode of delivery, for example by providing online activities that students may study at their own pace. Self-paced study allows students with work and other responsibilities to fit studying into their schedule.
Equity applies not just to opportunities for a diverse range of students. It also applies to the status of qualifications. In some countries (Nigeria and UK for example) a vocational or artisanal qualification is often seen as lower status than an academic qualification based mainly upon theory or book learning.