Xavier Rambla Sociologia

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Set 05 2019

Can education policies prevent early school leaving?

Posted in Educació i polítiques socials per Xavier Rambla |

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Mai 30 2019

Global governance, institutional design and struggle

Posted in L'aprenentatge a l'educació superior per Xavier Rambla |

Current debates on global governance often revisit an old debate in the social sciences. While some theories argue that good or bad ideas on how to design institutions are the ultimate cause of political developments, other theories insist that this ultimate cause lies in struggle and negotiation. Rational-choice and historical institutionalism represent the two perspectives in political science.

The same type of discrepancy divides experts on global governance nowadays. For instance, Jeffrey Sachs considers that coherent arguments on the potential of the SDGs are capable to make a difference by persuading the elites. In contrast, Aart Scholte highlights a complex array of social relations that condition global governance.

In 2018-2019, the students of Social Change and Globalisation evaluated the insights of these diverging theories. Their work focused on such issues of the global policy agendas as nutrition and education. On the one hand, Nestlé claims that it is producing shared value, while FAO works for achieving the SDGs that concern agriculture and food. On the other hand, GEMS Education claims that its activity fosters access to education, while the Global Campaign of Education warns that private education threatens the right to education.

Global nutrition and education policies entail a number of implications for the social sciences, political philosophy and practical decision-making. This exercise focused on one of these implications. An influential standpoint suggests the following research question: Are the current problems in these areas the consequence of good or bad previous institutional designs? However, another widespread perspective suggests a different research question: Are these problems the outcome of old struggles and negotiations?

Certainly, qualified and sound analyses must draw on the whole array of expert opinions in order to achieve consistent conclusions. However, halfway positions are not convincing simply because their premises are intermediate. Although all  experts assume that both institutional designs and struggles play a role, the order of factors eventually alters the product. If designs set the the pattern, struggles only take place on the flaws of the initial designs. If struggles set the pattern, designs reflect an equilibrium of power. The floor is yours.

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Mar 18 2019

Policies Supporting Young People in their Life Course. A Comparative Perspective of Lifelong Learning and Inclusion in Education and Work in Europe

Posted in Educació i polítiques socials per Xavier Rambla |

The final newsletter of project YOUNG_ADULLLT summarises key insights and recommendations (here)

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Gen 31 2019

Erik Olin Wright va generar molts recursos pedagògics

Posted in L'aprenentatge a l'educació superior per Xavier Rambla |

El sociòleg Erik Olin Wright ha mort al gener de 2019. Aquest obituari explica força bé la seva enorme obra acadèmica.

A més de les teories i recerques, també ha llegat un veritable repositori de recursos per a la docència universitària. Entre molts, en podem destacar tres:

  • L’obituari remarca la seva recerca sobre l’estructura de classes. Una de les millors maneres d’aprendre ara mateix les bases del debat teòric és el llibre “Si la classe és la pregunta, quina és la resposta?
  • Des dels anys noranta l’experimentació i la recerca sobre la participació ciutadana a la política han crescut considerablement. Al seu llibre “Aprofundint la democràcia” ell va elaborar un dels marcs teòrics més sistemàtics i exhaustius sobre aquest tema.
  • A hores d’ara la sociologia es preocupa de les connexions entre diversos fenòmens socials i les polítiques públiques (policy sociology), el seu curs sobre “Teories de l’estat” sistematitzava una teoria neomarxista sobre aquestes polítiques públiques a partir d’una extensa bibliografia de la sociologia històrica, que està disponible al seu web.

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Nov 27 2018

EU Lifelong Learning Policies and the Vulnerability of Young Adults

Posted in Desigualtats, Educació i polítiques socials per Xavier Rambla |

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Jun 10 2018

Highlights of GLOBED Internship

Posted in L'aprenentatge a l'educació superior per Xavier Rambla |

GLOBED students undertake three-months internships in international organisations, NGOs, national aid agencies and higher education institutions. This post draws on the reports of the first (2015-17) and second (2016-18) cohorts in order to briefly outline their activities and observations. The post also collects a small repository of tools that are helpful for analysing these institutions.

Learning by doing

  • A few GLOBED students participated in research projects. For instance, the main themes had to do with public-private partnerships, the education of refugees, socio-economic segregation and inclusive sports.

  • Most of them collaborated in writing policy reports and literature reviews for international organisations, NGOs and charities.

  • Some of them were asked to update repositories of documents that may be helpful for practitioners in different professional areas.

  • A few GLOBED students contributed to providing services such as scholarships or social support to students coming from specific target groups.

  • Each edition one or two students collaborated with consultants in the field of educational planning.

A few analytic insights

The Introduction of GLOBED Internship for the third (2017-2019) cohort states that assessment will require completing a journal and producing a brief analysis (see your digital portfolio in Inici-E-Portfoli on the left column of GLOBED General Moodle Room).

The following list points out some insights of the analyses produced by the first and the second cohorts.

  • International organisations (UN and other) significantly contribute to education policies for global development. Thus, their ‘core processes’ (see EFQM model below) normally include building on the capacities of the governments of low- and middle-income countries. But other typical core processes consist of collecting documentation, conducting policy-driven research, providing assistance to national plans, promoting curriculum development, and issuing policy papers are the main activities. For them, a crucial challenge is how to coordinate all these activities as well as how to balance the role of stakeholders.
  • Civil society organisations are involved in international aid, but many of them have engaged in advocacy too. These policy actors are particularly reflexive regarding their vision, their mission and their own potential.
  • Some partners who offer internships deliver services directly, mostly in order to foster the mobility of students. In Europe, there is a growing concern with the international mobility of refugee students. These organisations must respond to huge challenges in order to build a sufficient network of stakeholders. They are also experimenting with on-line learning.
  • Research is becoming a ‘core process’ for many official and civil society organisations involved in education and sustainable development. Not only programme evaluations require a research component, but the participant institutions of GLOBED internship also associate research with many other endeavours, namely: diagnosis, policy review, advocacy and governance (‘by numbers’).

Analysis toolkit

European Framework for Quality Management

Systemic Change

SWOT Analysis

Social Impact of Research

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Mai 21 2018

Educación y desarrollo sostenible en América Latina (3): conexiones entre ODS

Posted in Educació i polítiques socials per Xavier Rambla |

Aunque la educación está directamente conectada con otras dimensiones del desarollo sostenible, entre 2000 y 2015 los planes educativos internacionales apenas las tuvieron en cuenta. Afortunadamente, desde 2016 el Global Education Monitoring Report ha enmendado este error. Desde entonces los organismos internacionales, gobiernos, negocios y representantes de la sociedad civil interesados en el desarrollo sostenible tienen en cuenta que cada dimensión afecta a las demás y recibe el impacto de estas. Así, la educación surte una serie de efectos sobre la productividad, la salud pública o la confianza en las instituciones, tal como ha observado la teoría del capital humano. Pero los avances y las limitaciones en la distribución del ingreso, la construcción de ciudades habitables y la seguridad también dejan refuerzan o constriñen el potencial de la educación.

El enfoque de capacidades analiza estas conexiones dobles dentro de un marco conceptual muy fundamentado. En principio, el valor intrínseco de la educación se desprende de su contribución al desarrollo de las capacidades humanas básicas.

Es preciso entender las conexiones instrumentales entre la educación y las otras dimensiones del desarrollo sostenible dentro de este marco. Estas conexiones instrumentales discurren en dos sentidos: desde las otras dimensiones hacia la educación, y desde la educación hacia estas otras dimensiones.


Por último, es innegable que la educación genera valores posicionales en tanto en cuanto proporciona ventajas relativas a quienes obtienen titulaciones y competencias superiores. Tal como demuestra la Word Inequality Database on Education, estas ventajas relativas se reparten de modos muy dispares entre clases sociales, hombres y mujeres, grupos étnicos, habitantes de zonas urbanas y rurales, y otras categorías sociales.

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Abr 28 2018

Education and sustainable development (2): TVET in Latin America

Posted in Educació i polítiques socials per Xavier Rambla |

Since UNESCO convened the 3rd International Conference on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in 2012, this issue has gained momentum. Interestingly, the conference defined TVET as a system whose components are school programmes, training courses, apprenticeship schemes, scholarships, qualification frameworks, career guidance services, labour market intelligence and governance.

Looking back to the historical debate on TVET, this definition is the cornerstone of a significantly new approach. To the extent that educational planning simply relied on building new vocational schools, in the sixties and seventies the systemic features of TVET were seriously disregarded. Critics quickly noticed that the policy rationale assumed a fallacy, since these schools were not effective at all unless their activity was properly aligned with the education system and the labour market policy. In the eighties, TVET was deleted from the agenda on the grounds that increasing enrolment in primary education yielded higher rates of return. But critics also noticed that this strategy eventually provoked a bottleneck as far as transition to post-primary education was not guaranteed.

Currently, most Latin American countries work hard to build their TVET system. An array of popular initiatives indicates that policy-makers want to sort out many different problems. For instance, in Mexico the Build Yourself programme (ConstruyeT) enhances the socio-emotional capabilities of students so that future graduates get the most out of career guidance. In Brazil, before the present fiscal and economic crisis, the National Technological Programme (PRONATEC) struggled to underpin enrolment wih scholarships at the same time as new regional TVET colleges were created. In a different vein, Chilean governments have strengthened the qualifications framework at the same time as guidance services (Chile Valora).

Thus, a wider curriculum of secondary education, a expansion of school-based courses and the coherence of qualificatinos have become key focuses of reforms that aim at building TVET systems. The point is not only how effective each measure is, but mostly, to what extent these programmes contribute to build a system. The making of these systems is one of the most relevant current changes of education policies in the continent. In 2015, SDG4 highlighted the importance of these changes by requiring governments “by 2030, [to] ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university”.

This statement unveils quite important connections between TVET and other dimensions of sustainable development. The relationships with basic education and “decent work and economic growth” (SDG8) are particularly remarkable. However, so far progress has not been enough as far as these other dimensions are concerned.

On the one hand, statistical indicators capture a number of youth who are not enrolled in lower secondary education. Since perfomance is weak in basic education (see quotations from TERCE in the previous post) and a part of each cohort drops out of lower secondary education, it is noticeable that the making of TVET systems will not be sufficient to guarantee the right to education to all. In fact, the first figure below shows how net enrolment in lower secondary education has stalled despite a previous positive trend.

On the other hand, despite educational expansion during the recent decades, youth unemployment has not significantly decreased in Latin America. In contrast with the widespread causal belief in mechanical correlations between education and economic returns, it is noticeable that the trend of youth unemployment does not follow the expected pattern. A complex set of processes contributes to this fact, not least the complex “classification struggles” that sociologist Pierre Bourdieu analysed. The status of young people as students, workers or something in-between is a continuous bone of contention. In short, the second figure below records a stable trend of this indicator.





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Abr 05 2018

Educación y desarrollo sostenible (1): la educación básica en América Latina

Posted in Educació i polítiques socials per Xavier Rambla |

La comunidad internacional dispone de un legado de setenta años (cuando menos) de reflexión sobre el derecho a la educación. La escolarización de todos los niños y niñas menores de edad ha sido uno de los retos más visibles de esta empresa. Pero la inquietud por este derecho también afecta otras cuestiones, por ejemplo, el aprendizaje adecuado para desempeñar un trabajo digno, la influencia mutua de las desigualdades o las voces de la sociedad civil sobre la educación. Y muchos más.

Desde hace décadas en América Latina el debate ha tenido en cuenta al conjunto de la educación básica, incluyendo la educación infantil, primaria y secundaria. Rosa María Torres hizo un balance muy lúcido de la cuestión en 2000 (enlace). Una discusión más reciente de la Educación para Todos en América Latina se encuentra aquí.

Este legado aporta una rica gama de herramientas intelectuales para interpretar los hallazgos del primer informe internacional que hace balance del Objetivo de Desarrollo Educativo 4, relacionado con la educación, que debería ser alcanzado en 2030. Entre una lista extensa de informaciones, es muy importante destacar las siguientes:

  • La participación de los distintos grupos de edad en la educación infantil, primaria y secundaria es considerable en América Latina, en algunos puntos equiparable a Europa y América del Norte.
  • Sin embargo, la cuarta parte de jóvenes están fuera de la escuela en el nivel secundario superior. En Europa y América del Norte este abandono prematuro apenas afecta a una décima parte de jóvenes.
  • Los rendimientos académicos en lengua todavía presentan desafíos importantes: “Los resultados  de lectura en sexto grado muestran que el 70%  de los estudiantes a nivel regional se encuentra en los niveles de desempeño I y II. Los logros de aprendizaje en este ámbito se relacionan con la comprensión de textos en base a claves explícitas e implícitas, lo que permite hacer inferencias acerca del sentido de los textos y sus propósitos
    comunicativos. Como desafío aparece la necesidad  de favorecer en los niños y niñas la capacidad de interpretar expresiones de lenguaje figurado y fortalecer el conocimiento de los componentes del lenguaje y sus funciones”. (Informe TERCE sobre Logros de Aprendizaje)
  • Los rendimientos académicos en matemáticas también presentan desafíos importantes. “En el caso de la prueba de matemática de sexto grado, el 83% de los estudiantes a nivel regional se encuentra en los niveles de desempeño I y II. Los logros de aprendizaje en estos niveles, se relacionan con la capacidad de trabajar con números naturales y decimales en contextos simples y con la lectura de datos explícitos en tablas y gráficos. Los principales desafíos están en la resolución de problemas complejos (aquellos que contienen más de una variable), que involucran operaciones con números naturales, decimales y fracciones, el cálculo de perímetros y áreas, y otros aspectos, como las unidades de medida y los datos que se presentan en tablas y gráficos”. (Informe TERCE sobre Logros de Aprendizaje)


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Mar 23 2018

Why should Europe care for the future of young adults?

Posted in Desigualtats, Educació i polítiques socials per Xavier Rambla |

I recently published a short comment in the Young Adulllt project newsletter (here). Empirical reports are about to be publised.

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