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D 7.1 To what extent do education and social mobility break people out or poverty?

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This task has projects by four partners: UCT-SALDRU (Section 2), GRADE (Section 3.1), CDE (Section 4) and VASS (Section 5). IRD has two projects in partnership: one with VASS reported in Section 5, and another with GRADE (Section 3.2), which is in addition to the independent GRADE project. This report contains summaries of all the projects, along with the full paper of the GRADE project in the Appendix.
The UCT-SALDRU study is on estimating the effect of non-personnel resources on school quality in South Africa, and they find no indication of a positive effect of non-personnel resources on matric pass rates. Taken together, their results raise doubts on the effectiveness of non-personnel funding in improving school outcomes in our setting. Although additional years of schooling are generally considered to be beneficial for youth, irrespective of final graduation, the South African literature on returns to education reports virtually no earnings returns to completing grades 10 and 11. This would imply little or no positive effect of the funding policy on students’ outcomes either through learning or through additional years of education. This study highlights the policy challenges of raising matriculation pass rates, especially of disadvantaged youth.
The main objective of the GRADE study is to analyze the educational and occupational aspirations of one cohort of children over time in Peru and to analyze which individual or family variables are associated with the achievement of these aspirations. Based on data from the Young Lives’ Survey, their results indicate that family characteristics and educational background are strong predictors in a student accomplishing their adolescent aspirations. As for the individual variables, children with high nutritional status have higher chances of accomplishing their educational and occupational aspirations. Children who repeat a grade in primary or secondary school have lower chances of accomplishing their educational and occupational aspirations as well as children with lower cognitive abilities. They also find that the socioeconomic status of families is positively and significantly associated with the fulfillment of occupational and educational aspirations showing that family background affects the future opportunities for children. Also, a change in the family structure has a positive and significant effect on the achievement of educational aspirations. The combined GRADE-IRD project also examines aspirations, but focuses on Peru’s indigenous children.
The CDE has five projects under two principal investigators, all focusing on India. The first one based on a primary survey in the capital city of New Delhi seeks to identify factors underlying education and social mobility, and also to see if for the higher placed social groups higher education is a factor leading to socio-economic upward mobility, whereas lower-ranked social groups tend to characterized by socio-economic persistence (i.e. lack of mobility). The data for this study have been collected and are being analysed, and preliminary results indicate that even after controlling for class, social origin (caste and religion) matter in terms of the role of education in socio-economic mobility. The second project is collecting data and on affirmative action, as well as conducting qualitative
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interviews with affirmative action beneficiaries in order to investigate if this policy can contribute to increasing socio-economic mobility among marginalized groups.
The next CDE project on “Information provision and quality of education in rural India” highlights how education has been the largest single component of social sector public spending in India and there has been a dramatic expansion in access to schools in rural India, starting with the Miniumum Needs Programme in the mid-seventies. The quality of these schools has however limited their attractiveness even among poor households. Our research addresses the question of how to improve public school quality and thereby reduce disparities in educational attainment. The results of this paper suggest that low cost interventions that increase the information that parents and schools receive about the absolute and relative performance of students in the system can lead to better school choices and through these, create incentives for schools to compete and improve.
Finally, the VASS project focuses on full-day schooling (FDS) in Vietnam. FDS, as a semi- or purely public schooling, to some extent targets the equality of opportunity in education in Vietnam by filling the gap in instructional time between children of different social background. However the true relationship between FDS and educational inequality is not yet known and this study investigates this. Their study finds that firstly, students from high level of social background have more instructional time than students with low social background. Secondly, although the students attending FDS are provided with more resources than the students not attending FDS, the high social background students always have better school resources accompanying FDS than the low social background. Thirdly, higher learning progress is observed for the students of high social background in comparison with the low social background.