The scale of the gap is evident in the capacities of different schools to resource educational provision, with a school on one side of the divide building a second theatre and a school on the other side wondering if it can afford to replace a worn carpet.
The paradox of teaching then is that teachers are attempting to create contexts for students to think for themselves, to stay sane in an age of division while operating within an institutional structure designed to create compliant and obedient workers, a goal that is continually reinforced by the state for neoliberal purposes.
By deliberately misclassifying these workers as casuals, employers have been able to satisfy their ongoing labour needs, benefit from wage penalties, and withhold entitlements at the same time. Who should be regarded as ‘double dipping’ under such circumstances?
Maybe what we have to hold onto is the idea of education as a good in its own right, not a dreary task to be got out of the way before we start the fun stuff, or a series of obstacles to be navigated en route to job-readiness.
Many have made the case that the COVID-19 pandemic poses an existential threat to English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) and therefore to these jobs, students and institutions. Although this is nominally true, the crisis has revealed the unsustainable and unethical business practices on which ELICOS colleges have always depended.