Australian researchers have provided a roadmap for addressing educational deficiency in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic-induced disruptions to improve the country's dealing with educationally disadvantaged young people.
Researchers from Australia's University of Queensland (UQ) and Paul Ramsay Foundation explored the impact of the national lockdown on educational disadvantage, saying on Wednesday it was the first study to present evidence-based solutions to help inform policy, reports Xinhua news agency.
The study adopted 16 recommendations for decision-makers and sector stakeholders, which was divided into four priority areas for action, including improving student mental health, wellbeing and hope, building up the future roles of teachers, schools, and communities, setting up protections for most vulnerable students and digital equity.
Professor Mark Western, UQ's Institute for Social Sciences Research director, said that compared to other countries, Australia lacks the same evidence-based support services, leaving Australians exposed to widening the educational divide, although more than 60 programs already existed to support children and young people experiencing disadvantage.
Researchers analysed large data sets and conducted interviews with focus groups with underprivileged children and young people, as well as service providers, government, and academic experts to capture and understand which elements of the system of educational disadvantage were directly impacted by Covid.
"More needs to be done to invest in the future of Australia's children and young people by deploying evidence-based programs that address four priority areas for action," Western said.
"Our report gives decision-makers, service providers, and potential funders a toolkit for implementing a range of guiding principles for school-based programs that would provide more support services tailored to students during the next potential lockdown or disaster," he noted.
Paul Ramsay Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Professor Glyn Davis AC said few Australian-based programs are supporting vulnerable students with rigorous evidence of effectiveness now, so they hope these findings will guide the implementation of school-based and community-based programs that meet the needs of Australia's vulnerable young people.
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