Exploring how the national COVID-19 pandemic policy and its application exposed the fault lines of educational inequality
In the wake of Covid-19, a flurry of surveys in education were conducted. These revealed alarming statistics about most learners losing half of the academic year, parents’ angst about sending children to school, and a small fraction of higher education institutions being able to leverage affordances of technology for effective online teaching and learning. As our right to breathe, eat and learn became suffocated, we were urged to re-imagine possibilities for resurrection, for mitigating current and future education “losses”. Deafened by the varied cacophony from teacher and student unions, school governing body representatives, scientists and education experts, the government with its departments of education decided to close education institutions and this coincided with the hard lockdown. Against this background, we use the lens of critical policy analysis (CPA), to explore the decision-making of education departments. In this qualitative study, a critical lens was used to reveal the magnification of the fault lines of educational iniquity and inequity as departments of education made decisions to close and reopen institutions. Multiple data generation methods included a key informant interview with a senior official from the Department of Education, a survey among school personnel, and document analysis. The findings revealed a tension between expectations of producers of policy and recipients of policy, within unequal school settings. A repositioning, by peering through the lens of the dispossessed to inform future policy, is recommended.
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