For our free coronavirus pandemic coverage, learn more here.
A generation of young people is at risk of being channelled into low-skilled and low-paying jobs, with disrupted learning through the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating socio-economic fault lines in Australia’s education system.
Research from the Paris-based OECD released on Tuesday said home-schooling and greater dependence on virtual classrooms during COVID-19 would probably have a long-lasting impact that would disproportionately affect poorer students.
Home-schooling due to COVID could leave a “lost generation” of young people, the OECD has warned.Credit:Tanya Macheda
Every school system in Australia was forced into periods of home teaching, with students often spending days or weeks communicating with their teachers and school mates via Zoom or similar online systems. Melbourne students and their parents have just emerged from another shutdown.
The OECD, in a report into the skills base of member nations, said even before the pandemic there were deep divisions between students from poor backgrounds and those from middle and high-income families.
Children from lower socio-economic backgrounds were less likely to continue studies after their compulsory schooling years, unlikely to undertake tertiary training and more likely to go into occupations with limited futures.
According to the OECD, these divisions have worsened in part because of the changes to training and schooling caused by COVID-19.
“Many youngsters, particularly from socio-economically disadvantaged households, may drop out of education. Vocational education and training provision has also been disrupted, and labour-market contractions have decreased opportunities for skill development at work,” it found.
“By changing how higher education and formal courses are delivered, creating greater financial constraints for families and increasing uncertainty, the pandemic is posing a severe risk of producing a lost generation.”
The study found despite huge investments by state and federal governments into education since 2000, there continued to be little improvement in literacy for low socio-economic Australian students.
Only 14 per cent of students in the bottom quarter for reading ended up in skilled employment at the age of 25. Among the top quarter of students, almost 50 per cent were in skilled jobs at 25.
Australia had the largest gap – 51 percentage points – between the number of students in the bottom quartile for literacy and those in the top quartile who completed a university degree.
In both Australia and Canada, there had been no improvement in literacy levels among the bottom quarter of students over the past two decades.
But the researchers noted that if a parent with a tertiary education read to their child, there was a huge increase in the proportion of students who enjoyed reading. That led to improved literacy outcomes, which in turn boosted ongoing skill levels as they became adults.
Sydney mother and lawyer Angie Tawadros has two children under five and has been reading to 4- year-old Joseph since he was a newborn.
“I had read in different publications that reading to your kids was good for them and set them up for a lifetime of enjoying reading,” she said. “It’s important because it opens up their minds to how big the world is. It also provides an escape from everyday life and uses their imagination.”
Mrs Tawadros has found reading to her son has helped her to gauge his interests.
“Joseph is really into space and we wouldn’t have known that if we didn’t read different books to him.”
A special part of the study found immigrant parents were highly focused on ensuring their children did well at school. In Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany and Denmark, the children of immigrants outperformed their locally born schoolmates.
“This suggests that once academic performance is factored in, immigrant students’ higher aspirations may reflect stronger attitudes and personal attributes,” it found.
The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.
Most Viewed in Politics
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article