Noun: equity; singular proper noun: equity; noun: equity
1.the quality of being fair and impartial.
“Equity of treatment”
The term ‘equity’, in particular ‘social equity’, is used frequently in the public sphere. From policing to welfare to housing and transportation, social equity is about fairness and justice, as opposed to social equality, which is defined as the equal distribution of resources regardless of the tools people have access to.
Equity in education, in particular, is a major topic in Aotearoa right now. An equitable education system is one where every student, regardless of their ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or abilities, can succeed. And, while Aotearoa’s education system performs well overall in a global context, large gaps in equity still remain for Māori and Pasifika children. While the gaps that lead to these outcomes are multifactorial and stem from wider social inequalities, equity within our education sector is imperative in order for our tamariki to succeed in life.
So, what does equity in education actually mean?
In a wider societal context, equity provides people with resources that fit their circumstances, with The World Health Organization (WHO) defining social equity as “the absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people.”
For example, when schools prioritise equity over equality, they are more in tune with their student’s needs and are therefore able to provide resources to overcome challenges specific to those children. Instead of focusing on distributing all resources in a ‘fair and just’ way, i.e. spread out evenly amongst everyone, noticing and acting in an equitable way in schools allows tamariki who may have had challenging situations in their lives to learn, grow, and thrive, at the same level as those who haven’t.
In order to support our tamariki within our education sector, we need to make sure that our schools are using an equitable approach where unequal starting points between tamariki are acknowledged and attempts are made to meet individual needs. Instead of expecting all students to reach the same point in their learning at the same time, we need to promote excellent progress in their learning – regardless of their starting point.