Klaus Hurrelmann (Hertie School of Governance, Berlin)
Carlos Costa Ribeiro (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro)
Sarada Balagopalan (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi)
Education is sometimes thought of as the means of reducing structural inequalities within and across societies. Nevertheless, access to education itself can be distributed in unequal ways, contingent on the very structures it is supposed to even out. A historical perspective reveals that educational opportunities were often tailored to the social background or gender of the students. Sometimes, such differentiations have been institutionalized as parallel strands within education systems, which can result in the exclusion of certain groups from mainstream education and subsequent career opportunities. This opening panel seeks to address general questions and concepts with a view to the relationship among inequality, education and social power, such as: When and how do structures of education work in favor, and when do they work against social mobility? How are issues of inequality and education dealt with in different countries and regions, which topics are considered crucial and which actors are involved in the debate?
Klaus Hurrelmann: “Education Quality and Education Equity: Using Welfare State Typologies for Comparative Analyses”
Klaus Hurrelmann highlights the importance of educational policy for the welfare state and vice versa. In his view, education is necessary for creating a productive economy and a cohesive society and for combating social exclusion and poverty. Given that crucial role for securing the prosperity of an entire society, promoting both educational quality and equity should be central political interests. Hurrelmann’s paper points to an interrelation between educational policy and the structure of the educational system, on the one hand, and different types of welfare regimes, on the other. Following Hurrelmann, findings from comparative research on best-practices in the educational sector could enhance future social and educational policies in different regions of the world.
Carlos Costa Ribeiro: “Educational Stratification in Brazil: 1960 to 2010”
In his talk, Carlos Costa Ribeiro looks at inequality of educational opportunities in Brazil from 1960 to 2010 by using census data. While the educational system expanded, Brazil underwent major social changes. Income inequality increased until 1980, whereas it decreased again from 1990 to 2010. Throughout the period of analysis, the impact of the family background on a successfull completion of primary education declined. It remained constant in secondary education and even increased at the college level. According to Costa Ribeiro’s analysis, gender and racial inequality has decreased. To conclude, Costa Ribeiro presents insights into horizontal stratification at the university level in terms of fields of specialization.
Sarada Balagopalan: “<<Now We Know How These Schools are Being Run>>: Children, Education and the Legal Form, 1997-2007”
Sarada Balagopalan’s paper focuses on cases of the Delhi High Court in the decade before the passing of India’s “Right to Education Act” (2009). The analyzed cases drew attention to particular aspects of inequality in primary education and shaped key provisions of the subsequent law. Balagopalan wonders how the judgments could simultaneously challenge the powerful and be transformed into an instrument of exercising power, i.e. the Right to Education Act. Her analysis revolves around the difficulties and ambiguities of notions such as children’s rights, social justice and inequality which can feed into contradictory political agendas and social agency.