A Continuing Question in Gabon: The Correlation Between Education and Labor Market Needs

Conference Paper to be presented by Augustin Emane

Augustin Emane is Associated Professor at the University of Nantes. He teaches Labor Law and Social Security Law. His research focuses on occupational risks in France, labor law in France and in French-speaking countries in Africa, and health systems in Europe and Africa. He also works on the transfer of Western legal categories in Africa and labor law in Brazil.

This paper examines Gabon, a country with a high level of schooling (more than 80%) compared with the average in other African countries (less than 50%), but where social inequalities and the level of unemployment are rather high. It is this paradox that we will try to explain. Education for us means school, which is traditionally used in Gabon to change social class or to reach a more prestigious situation. It allows us to fight social inequalities. Thanks to school, we acquire knowledge and competencies that lead on to get a job. For several years, this model was very effective, and the elite that we find governing us today has benefited from this promotion via education. Up to the 1980s, the labor market had integrated all the people who were schooled. The new job seeker had lots of choices concerning his job.

After the second oil crisis in 1979, things started to change. The state’s financial difficulties led to a reconsideration of the number of people it employed. Private companies faced an incredible number of job seekers, who did not always correspond to their needs. The principal reason for this situation is in fact the colonial period. Since the introduction of modern work in Gabon, office jobs have carried prestige, and school has often been considered a way of getting such ideal jobs. Anthropology and sociology could explain better this phenomenon. The logical consequence of this trend was that the literary field was privileged over the scientific field (seen for a long time as a course for prospective technicians and manual workers).

For the last 30 years, education has remained an indispensable way of integrating the labor market. But this is not enough. Inequalities are going to appear between the different academic routes. Different choices of courses lead to different job opportunities. It is now the opposite: scientific courses guarantee more job opportunities. A second type of inequality results from differences among the schools, or among countries. A third inequality is in the nationality of the company of employment. 

Cultural Capital in a Transnational Perspective

Conference Paper to be presented by Anja Weiß

Anja Weiß is a Professor for Sociology at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Her theoretical interests in the transnationalisation of social inequality translate into comparative empirical studies on the localization of knowledge, highly skilled migrants, (institutional) racism and legal exclusion, ethnic conflict and anti-racism, and qualitative research design.

In the human capital approach, returns on education are usually assessed within framework of the nation-state. In a transnational perspective, the value of cultural capital (cf. Bourdieu) should be assessed in terms of a plurality of contexts in which it may be recognized and rewarded. In regard to skilled personnel’s access to the labor market, the borders of the nation-state continue to be salient: foreign educational credentials are often seen as having lesser value and migrants are subject to exclusionary legal regimes. At the same time, other contexts, such as professional fields, need not be congruent with nation-state borders and they counteract the impact of the nation-state. In professional fields as diverse as management and legal studies, transnational sub-fields have emerged in which the value of education is determined independently of national systems of education.

Based on findings by the international study group “Cultural Capital During Migration” (headed by Nohl, Schittenhelm, Schmidtke, and the author), the input will focus on the situation of highly skilled migrants and the factors that impact on the validation of their educational credentials in diverse labor markets. These factors include discrimination by employers, but also the emergence of ethnic niches in some professions, such as medicine. Also, and especially among skilled employees, education does not stop at the moment of graduation, but undergoes continued development, fine-tuning, and also devaluation.

Educational Attainment and Early Occupational Trajectories of Youth in Mexico City

Conference Paper to be presented by Patricio Solís

Patricio Solís is a Research Professor at the Center for Sociological Studies, El Colegio de México. His focus is on social stratification, social mobility, and educational inequality in Mexico and Latin America. Currently he is finishing a co-edited book that summarizes the results of an international project aimed to analyze intergenerational class mobility patterns in six Latin American countries.

Recent research in Mexico shows that the risk of job precarization is significantly higher among youth. This situation has exacerbated after the economic recession of 2008-09. On the other hand, educational research indicates that the returns on education have decreased, thus increasing labor market vulnerability among the most educated, who used to have secured access to top-level occupations. These trends might suggest that labor market hardship has emerged as a widespread phenomenon among Mexican youth, blurring traditional markers of inequality, such as socioeconomic background and educational attainment. But is this actually the case?

In my presentation, I will discuss the results of recent research in which I analyze the early occupational trajectories of youth in Mexico City. I focus on the effects of educational attainment (controlling for socioeconomic background and family events) on three occupational transitions: entry into the labor force, job shifts, and reentries into the labor force. Using event history analysis, I devote special attention to the competing risks of entering into service-class positions, intermediary occupations, and what I define as “low-quality” occupations.

As earlier research has suggested, my results confirm that many young Mexicans initiate their occupational lives in “low-quality” occupations, and many stay there in subsequent job shifts/reentries. Also, risks of labor disqualification are significantly high among those with higher education. However, the labor market advantages of higher education are still important, particularly because it protects against spending the early stages of the occupational career in low-quality positions.

Thus, in a context of generalized labor market deterioration and precarization, as found in urban Mexico, higher education is no longer a guarantee for successful integration in the labor market. However, it still provides important comparative advantages to those who are able to make it to college. Therefore, social stratification studies should remain interested in the multiple ways in which educational inequality, and particularly inequality in access to higher education, is constructed.

Educational Privatization and the Collapse of State Institutions under Mubarak

Conference Paper to be presented by Hania Sobhy

Hania Sobhy is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Orient-Institut Beirut where she is writing up her research on Pro-Revolution Mobilization in Egyptian Elections 2012-2014. In 2012-2013, she was a postdoctoral Fellow with the EUME program of the Forum Transregionale Studien

The vast majority of Egyptian students attend public schools and free universal education remains a constitutionally enshrined right. However, 50-80% of students attend regular private tutoring in most subjects in a highly segregated system. This places a huge financial burden on households so that private spending on education now exceeds public spending. Despite this duplicated expenditure, most teachers remain grossly underpaid and the quality of schooling has declined to the extent that education is routinely declared ‘non-existent’ by Egyptians: mafeesh taleem.

The implications of this ‘privatization-by-tutoring’ do not only include poor quality, higher inequality and resource waste. The very content of youth schooling experiences has also been fundamentally altered. In addition to ‘teaching to the exam’ in key subjects, without attention to the actual development of knowledge and skills, there has been an effective elimination of the ‘activities’ subjects that not linked to student grades; such as music, sports, arts, theatre, civics and school trips. As students increasingly obtain their education on the market and attend school irregularly, this has led to the effective elimination of the school itself as a key arena for youth socialization and the production of nationhood, especially at the secondary level. The condition of public schooling therefore exemplifies the privatization, informalization and dysfunction of state institutions under Mubarak; whether as providers of social services or as sites for the production of citizenship.

In this brief presentation, my aim is to explain, through figures and data, and through live examples based on my fieldwork, what it actually means that, with 17 million students and 2 million employees, there is ‘no education’ in Egypt; and to bring to light the different manifestations of this educational dysfunction in a highly tracked and unequal system.

Private Actors and Education for the Poor in India

Conference Paper to be presented by Geetha Nambissan

Geetha B. Nambissan is Professor of Sociology of Education at the Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her research focuses on exclusion, inclusion and the education of marginal groups, the middle classes and educational advantage and the social and educational implications of private schools for the poor. 

Over the last decade, transnational and local advocacy networks have been projecting the low-cost unregulated school market in India as a cost-efficient, high-quality and equitable solution to the education of the poor and as a site for viable business options. The actors in this market include individual “edupreneurs” and, more recently, corporate groups that have entered the school business in later-developing countries. What we are witnessing is the construction of narratives of “good education” for the poor in extremely minimalistic terms, validated through “research” and disseminated by powerful networks. The attempt is to evolve globally scalable models that will deliver “high-quality” education at the lowest of costs, ensuring profits. In this paper, I map some of these trends, highlighting the manner in which private actors are attempting to change education policy in India by drawing upon neo-liberal discourses and constructing new narratives, networks and practices around schooling. I argue that these trends have serious implications for social justice in education for the poor.

Policies to Promote Social Inclusion and Equality in Higher Education Institutions in Latin America

Conference Paper to be presented by Martha Zapata Galindo

Martha Zapata Galindo is a Lecturer and Researcher at the Institute for Latin American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her research interests include social inclusion and higher education, intersectionality and feminist theory, social movements, women’s and feminist movements, democratization and intellectual processes in Latin America and the circulation of knowledge.

Social inclusion, equality, and diversity programs have not always been a priority in universities in Latin America. Recent analysis of the current situation and trends in higher education show various types of inequalities. Those that stand out in the social and urban areas are inequalities of gender, ethnicity and race, and income. The various strategies for social inclusion and equality that were developed in recent years, regionally and on a local level and with the support of public policies and actions, have resulted in substantial changes in university enrollment and the composition of its various populations. Among the many measures introduced to combat social exclusion in the higher education institutions of Latin America, along with projects for gender mainstreaming and scholarship programs for low-income groups in different higher education institutions of Latin American countries (Argentina Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Uruguay), the most noteworthy have been models that promote the inclusion of Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples, as have been implemented in Brazil, Colombia and Peru, to name a few. Despite the heterogeneity that characterizes Latin America, the range of coverage in higher education and college enrollment itself varies significantly between the different countries.  There is precise data about certain groups of recipients, for example the process of the feminization of the student enrollment in higher education in virtually all Latin American countries. However, regarding ethnic diversity – the strong presence of indigenous and Afro-descendants in many Latin American countries who have been historically marginalized in accessing education – and special-needs populations and different types of disabilities, we cannot count on the existence of reliable, comparable and up-to-date data. Continue reading

Ethnic Inequalities in the Education System in Northwestern Europe

Conference Paper to be presented by Céline Teney

Céline Teney is Junior Research Group Leader at the Centre for Social Policy Research at the University of Bremen. Previously, she held positions at the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre and the Université libre de Bruxelles. Her research interests cover the sociology of immigration, the sociology of the EU, political sociology and quantitative methodology.

Since the post-1945 period, northwestern European countries have attracted important labour-motivated immigration waves. The so-called guestworkers who immigrated in the ’60s and ’70s composed a large low-skilled labour force for most of the northwestern European countries. Meanwhile, the second and third generations of this immigration wave constitute a non-negligible segment of the population. Since second and third generations of immigrants have been entirely socialized in the receiving societies, one should expect them to benefit from the same opportunities in education and on the labour market as the population without an immigrant background. However, equal opportunity is far from being the case. Ethnic inequalities in the education system and on the labour market are indeed important challenges for the successful incorporation of immigrants and their offspring in the receiving societies. Ethnic educational inequalities, in turn, have been receiving increasing attention from the scientific community. In this presentation, I will briefly describe the inequalities in education faced by the children of former guestworkers. I will then discuss some of the possible causes leading to these ethnic inequalities.

Equity and Social Cohesion in Post-Apartheid South African Education

Conference Paper to be presented by Yusuf Sayed

Yusuf Sayed is the South African Research Chair in Teacher Education and the Founding Director of the Centre for International Teacher Education at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa. His research focuses on education policy formulation and implementation as it relates to concerns of equity, social justice and transformation.

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South African Pre-School (Photo: private)

The formal end of apartheid was greeted with much optimism and many expectations. A new Government of National Unity with Nelson Mandela at its head signalled a new just and democratic social order, including social justice in and through education. Redress was assured through the deracialisation of education provision and the opening of schools, through equality in education spending and through a commitment to positive discrimination in favour of the marginalised. Whilst there have been many gains, twenty years later, formally desegregated yet class-based educational institutions, continuing disparities and inequities and poor academic achievement are key features of the contemporary educational order. Learner assessment results suggest that South Africa is characterised by a two-tier system of education, resulting in a poorly resourced public schooling sector serving the poor, while the wealthy have access to semi-private public schools and have significant management control over the running of the schools, rupturing the ideals of social cohesion encapsulated in the powerful metaphor of the “rainbow nation”. Based on a review of education policy in South Africa since 1994 (Sayed, Kanjee, & Nkomo 2013), this paper considers how this has come about, focusing specifically on a review of the changes in the governance of schools since 1994. The paper argues that for the poor in South Africa the doors of quality learning and education and social mobility remain firmly shut. In this context, this paper also considers some key strategies to advance social justice. The paper is a call to act with urgency to reform South Africa’s educational approach to make it possible to address the systemic crisis of education that especially affects South Africa’s historically disadvantaged and marginalized peoples.

The Role of Science in the Ideology of Five Models of Latin American Modernity

Conference Paper to be presented by Hebe Vessuri

Hebe Vessuri is an anthropologist and currently research collaborator at the Research Center of Environmental Geography (CIGA), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). Her research focuses on science in world peripheries, the current internationalization of the social sciences and the interface between higher education, scientific research and other forms of knowledge.

To understand the role of science as a relevant component of the ideology of modernity in Latin America, we must recognize that, until the last quarter of the twentieth century, with different chronologies and nuances acording to the countries, the predominant form of social organization was the “state-national-popular matrix”. This matrix was based on the model of endogenous development, the “compromise state” (which corresponded to a pattern of unstable arrangements between the middle classes, organized working classes and dominant classes formed by the bourgeoisie and the oligarchy), social movements politically oriented toward the state and social integration, and the exclusion of peasants and the urban poor.

The populist formula implied the massification of public services and allowed a certain initial basic social democratization, in the form of access to specified goods or services. Crucial among them were the universalistic and expansive character of social policies: public education first, then public universities and the institutionalization of scientific-technical research were part of the process. The development crisis led to structural adjustments since the 1980s, which implied a problematic transition to another development model in which economic policies were aligned with the “Washington Consensus” and were later made viable by international organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank. In all cases, poverty and inequalities increased while the hithero existing relationship between the state and the social actors disarticulated, weakening their organizational and ideological capacity.

In recent years, several models linked to the reconstruction of relationships between state and society were proposed as responses to globalization. Scientific activity entered into the strategies of these models in different forms, as part of more or less exclusionist technocratic ideologies or of elitist programs, as an integral component of the identity struggles and for giving a sense of ownership to the modernization and transformation processes (cultural diversity) or as a general critique of the relationships between state and society. This paper briefly reviews five such models in which science and higher education play specific roles. The responses have fluctuated between equality and its need of a locus (society), and equity, which is an absolute principle that does not require a locus (such as a specific society). And they have occurred in the context of new inequalities, of globalization and of ascriptions as valued sources for social diversity and differentiation.

Colonising Education: Canada’s Indian Residential Schools and the Promotion of Structural Inequality

Conference Paper to be presented by David MacDonald

David MacDonald is a Full Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Guelph, Canada. He has been actively involved with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, coordinating sharing circles and academic panels, and authored the chapter on genocide for the TRC’s Final Report, due in mid-2015.

From the 1880s, the Canadian government, along with the four main Christian Churches, ran a network of Indian Residential Schools for over a century. Legislation from 1920 forced Aboriginal children to attend, and children were ostensibly kidnapped from their parents. The schools were often poorly run, received very low funding and had high mortality rates. The focus was often on training in agriculture and domestic labour to prepare children to be workers, while actual Western education (promoting literacy and numeracy) was sporadic. Sometimes described as “total institutions”, the IRS system saw staff wielding almost complete control over the lives of their young charges. High rates of verbal, physical and sexual abuse were endemic. The schools exacerbated problems of structural inequality, which had a knock-on effect afterwards, as high rates of intergeneration trauma perniciously undermined the ability of many Aboriginal communities to function either in their traditional ways or according to Western models. In the IRS system, the actual education of children was almost always a secondary goal. For the Churches, conversion and linguistic and cultural assimilation were central goals. For the government, aggressive assimilation was designed in part to clear indigenous land for settlement. In coming to terms with seven generations of schooling, the UN Genocide Convention is increasingly used, with a focus on article 2(e), which prohibits the forced transfer of children from one group to another. This presentation also problematizes the term “education” – since colonial educational practices can have a detrimental effect on indigenous peoples, especially if they are (1) radically different from pre-existing practices developed over thousands of years and (2) designed to colonize young minds and bodies and promote forms of self-loathing. The dissonance between indigenous educational and spiritual practices forms an important backdrop for understanding why these forms of education were so devastating.

The Ambiguities of Colonial Education

Conference Paper to be presented by Peter Kallaway

Peter Kallaway is an Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Western Cape and a Research Associate at the University of Cape Town. He is interested in the history of education in South Africa and British colonial Africa, particularly in the interaction between missionary educators, philanthropists, and colonial governments.

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South African Pre-School
(Photo: private)

The forms of knowledge that came to dominate the African colonial mission school curriculum, and later government schools, have often been criticised for their lack of sensitivity to African or indigenous culture and languages. This state was famously termed “cultural imperialism” in the 1970s and was said to have been one of the causes of the weakness of the educational systems that were inherited by the new national states in the independence era. For example, there was a move to promote an authentic heritage of knowledge (Indigenous Knowledge Systems, IKS) in South Africa after 1994 in keeping with this perceived need to transform public knowledge in line with the liberation politics of the contemporary order.

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Educational Stratification in Brazil: 1960 to 2010

Conference Paper to be presented by Carlos Costa Ribeiro

 Carlos A. Costa Ribeiro is Professor of Sociology and Director of Graduate Studies at the Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Políticos, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. His research focuses on the determinants of economic opportunity within and across generations.

The paper studies inequality of educational opportunity in Brazil from 1960 to 2010. Census data is used to analyze educational careers of children and youth in Brazil in this period. These five decades were characterized not only by an enormous expansion of the educational system, but also by major social changes in terms of urbanization and industrialization. While in 1960 55 percent of the population lived in rural areas, in 2010 only 15 percent were in the countryside. From 1960 to 1980, the country’s economy grew extremely fast mainly because of industrialization and the expansion of service sectors in the economy. This period was also one of increasing income inequality. In contrast, from 1990 to 2010, the country’s economy grew at a slower pace, but income inequality decreased. The data analyzed indicates that social background inequality in terms of parental income and schooling decreased for offspring entering and completing primary education, remained constant for those entering and completing secondary education, and increased for those entering college. Gender and racial inequality in educational transitions decreased throughout the period. These trends culminated in a very large expansion of youth attending college. Therefore, I also present some analyses of horizontal stratification on the university level in terms of fields of specialization. The data on completion of college for different professions is analyzed in terms of income returns, gender, and race. The analyses indicate changes and continuities in horizontal stratification among people with credentials in different careers. In particular, gender inequality in labor market returns on tertiary education decreased significantly, while racial inequality remained very high.

Education Quality and Education Equity: Using Welfare State Typologies for Comparative Analyses

Conference Paper to be presented by Klaus Hurrelmann

Klaus Hurrelmann is Senior Professor of Public Health and Education at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. He served as a director and managing team member of several population surveys, among them three Shell Youth Studies and two World Vision Children Studies. His main research is on the connection between family and education policy.

The educational level of each member of society is relevant not only for the individual, but also for the entire societal development: Individually, the level of education achieved is primarily significant for the position a person will have in the labor market, while also having crucial secondary effects on other important societal issues, such as health status throughout his or her life course. Socially, education is fundamental for achieving a productive economy, creating a cohesive society, combating social exclusion and poverty, and securing the prosperity of the entire society.

In the light of these correlations it is surprising that comparative analyses of welfare regimes pay little attention to educational policy. The influential Typology of Welfare States (Esping-Andersen) is based first and foremost on a country’s social policy, which in turn is primarily understood as being part of social security policy. There is much evidence that educational policies are highly correlated with particular types of welfare states and are decisive for the results produced in the respective educational system. Ideally, these results should be evaluated according to two standards: (1) the educational level of the population should be as high as possible with a view to the level of qualification and competencies achieved (education quality); (2) differences in the level of education achieved by the various population groups (i.e., different gender, social background, etc.) should be as low as possible (education equity).

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“Now We Know How These Schools are Being Run”: Children, Education and the Legal Form, 1997-2007

Conference Paper to be presented by Sarada Balagopalan

Sarada Balagopalan is an Associate Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi, and at the Department of Childhood Studies, Rutgers University, Camden. She is the author of Inhabiting “Childhood”: Children, Labour and Schooling in Postcolonial India (2014).

In the decade preceding India’s Right to Education Act (2009), which guarantees each child the right to quality elementary schooling, the Delhi High Court adjudicated several cases involving the city’s elementary schools. Not only was the volume of cases unprecedented, but each drew attention to a particular aspect of the highly iniquitous landscape of elementary education with several of the judgements shaping key provisions of this new law.

In my presentation, I will focus on a few of these cases, not analyzing their judgements, but rather to explore the heterogeneous elements that compose a “case” and foreground the ways the “child” was deployed, both empirically and figuratively, to signal a certain urgency. My attempt is to both anchor as well as open up the discussion around “inequality” and “social justice” in elementary education in India by asking how judgements, which are perceived as a strong challenge to those who govern, get turned into a technology of power through the Right to Education Act. In what ways does invoking the “child” as an agential figure capable of exercising “rights” appear to ironically regulate the project of “social justice” at the same time that it underscores the inequality that underlies schooling?

Inequality Generating Process in Longitudinal Perspective: Educational Transitions and Occupational Trajectories in Three Mexican Cohorts (1950-2011)

Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Nicolás Brunet.

Nicolás Brunet is a sociologist at the Centre of Sociological Studies, El Colegio de México. He is currently pursuing his PhD with a focus on inequality generating processes in a longitudinal perspective, both at educational and occupational transitions.

Past generations of stratification and social mobility studies have concentrated only on comparative examinations of mobility rates and mobility tables between countries. They have provided a comparative portrait of distinct mobility regimes linked to socioeconomic and industrial development degrees, as well as historical change of occupational patterns throughout different cohorts. In view of the fact that they work on a societal level, little insights were given on the individual level of job/status attainment. In addition, by mixing individuals of different ages, sociodemographic and occupational experiences, classical studies usually have arrived at an unrealistic and without-context picture of the individual level. Notwithstanding the importance of that task, the inequality generating process has remained a “black box”. This project suggests that combining the stratification and social mobility tradition with a life course perspective (LCP) could help us to tackle some of those “black box” restrictions. Thus, the aim of this research is the comparative analysis of trajectories of three Mexican birth cohorts (1951-53; 1966-68 and 1978-80), throughout school inequalities, occupational chances and social roles competition at different institutional and social settings and opportunities. By multilevel life event modeling techniques, this project looks at stratification trajectories, based on family background tradition, but also, by using an interlocking careers perspective. Contributing to a “connected” portrait of life course stratification logic, it also explores evidence of “cumulative advantages” versus “age-transitional” lifetime processes. At the individual level, it uses longitudinal retrospective information provided by “Encuesta Demográfica Retrospectiva” (EDER 2011) at the national level. To set up institutional and social settings, it uses data of General Population, Household and Housing Census (1960, 1970, 1990, 2000 y 2010) provided by IPUMS International Project.

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