EXTRACT of a review of Educational Opportunity for All: Overcoming Inequality throughout the Life Course by Dirk Van Damme
Education plays a dual role when it comes to social inequality and social mobility. On the one hand, it is the main way for societies to foster equality of opportunity and support upward social mobility for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. On the other hand, the evidence is overwhelming that education often reproduces social divides in societies, through the impact that parents’ economic, social and cultural status has on children’s learning outcomes.
The social divide is already apparent very early in the life of a child, in the time their parents spend on parenting or in the number of words a toddler learns. It progresses through early childhood education and becomes most obvious in the variation in learning outcomes, based on social background, among 15-year-old students who participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). And when literacy and numeracy skills among adults are assessed, such as in the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), we still see the impact of socio-economic status on skills development. A new report, Educational Opportunities for All, which contributes to the OECD Inclusive Growth initiative, charts the trajectory of educational inequality over a lifetime using OECD datasets on education and learning outcomes.
SOURCE: Dirk Van Damme (2017) “How can countries close the equity gap in education?”. OECD Education Today, 6 December 2017.
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