Onderwijs kern van ongelijkheid

Nieuws | de redactie
10 december 2014 | Toenemende ongelijkheid ondermijnt ook het onderwijs en de kwaliteit van de onderwijsuitkomsten in een land. De OECD laat zien hoe meer ongelijkheid in de samenleving nadelig doorwerkt op juist ook de vorming van ‘menselijk kapitaal’ en de investering door burgers in onderwijs en dat van hun kinderen.

Een nieuwe studie van de OECD over ‘Trends in income inequality and its impact on economic growth’ laat een duidelijke verbinding zien tussen het succes van onderwijsstelsels en de mate van maatschappelijke en economische ongelijkheid in landen. De kernpunten ten aanzien van de impact van ongelijkheid op het onderwijs en studiesucces formuleert de OECD als volgt:

–          The evidence is strongly in favour of one particular theory for how inequality affects growth: by  hindering human capital accumulation income inequality undermines education opportunities for disadvantaged individuals, lowering social mobility and hampering skills development. People whose parents have low levels of education see their educational outcomes deteriorate as income inequality rises. By contrast, there is little or no effect on people with middle or high levels of parental educational background.

–          Analysis drawing from education data and the recent OECD Adult Skills Survey (PIAAC) shows that the human capital of people whose parents have low levels of education deteriorate, as income inequality rises. By contrast, there is little or no effect for the human capital of people with middle or high levels of parental educational background. These patterns hold for both the quantity of education (e.g. schooling years) and its quality (e.g. skills proficiency).

–          A 6 points increase in income inequality (corresponding to the US-Canada differential in 2010) would lower numeracy by around 6 points among low-background individuals. This is nearly 40% of the gap relative to individuals with medium parental backgrounds.  In sum, the analysis suggests that inequality significantly shapes the opportunities of education and upward mobility of disadvantaged individuals.

–          Education is the key: a lack of investment in education by the poor is the main factor behind inequality hurting growth. Rising inequality is estimated to have knocked more than 10 percentage points off growth in Mexico and New Zealand over the past two decades up to the Great Recession. In Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, the cumulative growth rate would have been six to nine percentage points higher had income disparities not widened, but also in Sweden, Finland and Norway, although from low levels.

Gevolgen voor beleid 

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría zegt daar het volgende over: “This compelling evidence proves that addressing high and growing inequality is critical to promote strong and sustained growth and needs to be at the centre of the policy debate. Countries that promote equal opportunity for all from an early age are those that will grow and prosper.”

Voor beleidsmakers heeft dit aanzienlijke consequenties, noteren de onderzoekers: “Policymakers need to be concerned about how the bottom 40% fare more generally. This includes  the vulnerable lower-middle classes who are at risk of failing to benefit from and contribute to the recovery and future growth. Anti-poverty programmes will not be enough. Not only cash transfers but also increasing access to public services, such as high-quality education, training and healthcare, constitute long-term social investment to create greater equality of opportunities in the long run.”

“Policy also needs to confront the historical legacy of underinvestment by low income groups in formal education. Strategies to foster skills development must include improved jobrelated training and education for the lowskilled, over the whole working live.”


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