In contrast to the increasing value of education regarding employment and income, most EU member states continue to have too many people with too little or no education. Across the EU, 8 percent of young people lack a general school-leaving certificate. Worse even, an average of 19 percent of the 15-year-old boys and girls are considered functionally illiterate or innumerate. This conclusion is drawn by Jutta Allmendinger and me from WZB Berlin Social Science Centerin our large-scale study on social inequalities in Europe. The report maps the extent of social inequalities both within and between the 28 EU countries, looking at educational attainment, employment and income. For the report, recent studies have been analyzed and brought together. The report is published as a WZB Discussion Paper and can be downloaded here.
On November 24th 2014 Jutta Allmendinger presented our recent report in her keynote at the conference “Inequality, Education and Social Power: Transregional Perspectives” at WZB. She explained why education pays off in all EU countries but also how that differs between the several member states. Furthermore she shows that people’s earnings are not only driven by the level of their certificates, but also by their cognitive competences.
You can also find an interview with Jutta Allemendinger on educational poverty and gender inequality here.
Regions outside Europe are often attested a higher level of social heterogeneity and inequality on various axes. But even in Western Europe, social change and processes of migration have generated a greater degree of social diversity during the last decades. Which interdependencies, if any, can be traced between social heterogeneity and ideas/systems of education? In which contexts has education facilitated the empowerment of marginalized subjects and groups? How do students from different social backgrounds make use of educational opportunities? What role do habitus and practices of assessment within the educational institutions play? What influence do gender and class inequalities or other factors of social discrimination have on the accessibility of (higher) education? What experience do we have with affirmative action and quotas? When does education become a cause of social mobilization? Do the poor receive a different form of education?
Jutta Allmendinger is President of the WZB Berlin Social Science Center and Professor of Educational Sociology and Labor Market Research at the Humboldt University, Berlin. She recently published a discussion paper on „Social Inequalities in Europe: Facing the challenge“. In her interview with Gesche Schifferdecker she speaks about how we could overcome educational poverty, what our futural challenges are and why it is so difficult to discuss about education and inequality in a transregional context.
During the Winter Academy we invited Anja Schillhaneck, Vice President of the Berlin Parliament and Spokeswoman for Science, Sport, European and Federal Affairs for the parliamentary group of the green party “Bündnis 90/Die Grünen”, to share her expertise in the field of education policy with the participants.
In her presentation “Right to Education and Equal Education Opportunities. A View from Berlin” Anja Schillhaneck introduced the German education system and explained the particular challenges that arise from the three-tiered school system in terms of inequality and social mobility.
Discussion with Anja Schillhaneck; photo: Anaïs Bordes under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Drawing on her practical experience as a politician, she also discussed how recent reforms of the school system in Berlin try to increase the equality of education opportunities. During the lively discussion with the participants which covered various topics ranging from the “PISA shock” to university enrollment fees, Anja Schillhaneck provided interesting insights into current debates within German education policy.
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.
Six members of the Steering Committee have faced the difficult task of selecting 20 participants out of almost 100 applications for the International Winter Academy “Inequality, Education and Social Power: Transregional Perspectives”.
The selection process is now completed and you will soon find a list of selected candidates on this blog. The participants come from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. They have a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, coming from such different fields as educational studies, sociology, cultural studies, social sciences, economics, development studies, anthropology, history as well as different area studies. The Steering Committee is very much looking forward to meeting this interesting group in Berlin in November 2014!