Post originally published on Huffington Post.
With the recent news release, that Ontario students are doing poorly at math, it is imperative to focus on this issue now as it affects not only our current students and schools but our economy in the long run.
While STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) focused professions are the future of our economy they require a high level of math knowledge. For example, to enter an engineering field one must have a high understanding of math and, if not learned early it may be a loss that the next generation will have to deal with when losing opportunities in the future.
While the idea of having a one hour blocked time for math learning in classrooms is a great solution, I am personally not convinced when it comes to the online learning strategy. It is very interesting to see how many kids and their parents will actually have access to online resources considering that, although we live in one of the best nations in the world, many people do not have a computer and Internet access at home.
A 2011 study showed that one in five households did not have a computer or Internet at home, in Canada. It is hard to believe that many of these people are not interested in having access to a computer and Internet access considering that just about everything we do now requires online access starting from learning in the classroom and at home to looking and applying for work as a basic need of a computer with Internet access.
Online learning has become increasingly popular, and many courses are offered online starting with seeking resources for students and their parents in Grade 1 to the end of their studies in University. However, the question remains, who has access to it? Who will benefit from it in the long run?
At hEr VOLUTION, during our hEr VOLUTION Think Tank Accelerator, a program designed to offer young women in conflict with the law or at risk of, employable skills we require the use of technology on a daily basis.
With that said, 98 per cent of our participants do not have a computer with Internet access at home. This requires a lot of effort on our part to partner with the right stakeholders who can support this initiative offering us the space with the right equipment. That is a tall order on our part to ensure that although the resources are limited, the young women still get the education that they deserve.
While it is argued that there are many resources available outside of school with access to computers and Internet access, many libraries for example are packed with people who wait to use it and time is usually limited to 30 minutes. Many community centres do not have computers in good working conditions and one must meet the age and location criteria to use them at the times the centre is open not considering that many of the people require the use of a computer after working hours, particularly parents of the students from Grade 3 and up.
The question still remains, how are we going to facilitate online learning for young students and the future generation when they do not have access to adequate resources?
The answer still stands that, if we do not dig deep to the root of the problem, children from remote areas and the ones from low income households will still not be able to take advantage of the full learning experience; not only for the EQAO test but also for the learning that is required to improve our economy in the long run.