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Education key to post-pandemic recovery

Last year, many families across our nation shared their challenges after months of home learning, with schools working tirelessly to support students through the COVID-19 crisis.

The rapid shift from face-to-face to remote learning was a difficult experience for many. Yet for the children and families The Smith Family supports, who already faced complex and compounding challenges before the pandemic, the task of managing home schooling was often overwhelming.
The gap in education between disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers widened during COVID-19. According to a 2020 Grattan Institute survey, teachers estimated that children from disadvantaged backgrounds learned just 25-50% of what they would normally learn in class, compared to 50-75% for children not living in poverty.

The Smith Family works in socio-economically disadvantaged communities across Australia, supporting young people living in poverty to reach their potential through education. Their families face barriers that pose a threat to their child’s participation and progression in education, and the COVID-19 crisis added an extra layer of complexity to their lives.

Imagine this:
There is one digital device in a six-person household, and the younger children’s education has to be deprioritised so that their older siblings can study. Families without internet are advised to sit in a car outside school to hotspot Wi-Fi for remote learning. Families already living in a single parent income-earning household are worried about the economic impacts we are yet to feel.

Too often, the experience of poverty has a largely hidden face. And yet, in Australia today, 1.2 million children and young people are living in poverty1. That’s one in six young Australians who may not have the tools and resources they need to succeed at school.

The Smith Family supports the education of around 58,000 students on their Learning for Life scholarship program, which helps young people living in poverty to achieve educationally. Through a combination of financial, personal and academic support, they provide long-term help to improve educational outcomes, and ultimately, break the cycle of poverty.

The Smith Family believes in the transformative power of education. Not only do improved educational outcomes lead to a better quality of life, but in order for our country to rebuild its economic and social prosperity, it is imperative that we help all young Australians to thrive at school and beyond.

1. ACOSS/UNSW Poverty Overview Report, 2020.

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This organisation is supported by trusts managed by Equity Trustees.