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It didn’t have to be this way

March 21, 2021 3:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Students at schools and universities across the country have experienced massive disruption to their education throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

So many young people have not had access to an adequate computer or internet connection at home, and for those who depend on accessible educational materials, such as large print, audio and Braille - these resources have been severely lacking.

Students have experienced a massive disruption to their education.

Even as lockdown restrictions begin to ease for school children, thousands of university students have not been able to return to in-person education. For many courses, students are still in the dark about when this is expected under the Government's roadmap.

And there is a very real sense for many students that their university experience has been diminished and they have not received the education they expected.

It didn't have to be this way.

Your education should not depend on your parent's finances, where you live, or a lack of materials suited to your needs.

Liberal Democrat leadership has helped narrow the digital divide in education for Welsh school children. Liberal Democrat Education minister for Wales, Kirsty Williams, led the speedy distribution of laptops and internet routers to disadvantaged learners.

Her work meant Welsh children had access to essential resources, long before the Conservative and SNP governments managed to do the same for pupils in England and Scotland.

This inequality is not good enough. A student's education should not depend on their parent's finances, where they live, or a lack of materials suited to their needs.

Lockdown restrictions may be easing, but the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the huge disparities in quality of education. That's why we've passed a motion to begin fixing this. It calls for:

  1. The government to fund tablets and laptops for students with financial hardship.
  2. Every disadvantaged family and students have access to high-quality broadband, and address urgent poor rural connectivity.
  3. Hold a comprehensive review into digital exclusion among children and young people, including both long-running challenges and those exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read the full motion:

Accessibility in education

Every child deserves a high quality education and the chance to reach their potential. Every student deserves an enriching college or university experience, with the equipment and internet to learn everything they can. The motion we have passed today will help achieve this.