Xavier Rambla Sociologia

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oct. 05 2016

Education and the faces of human development: two-way connections

Since 1990 the UNDP emphasizes that human development is multidimensional. At least, it has three distinct faces such as income, education and public health. Other complementary indexes have noticed that housing conditions must be taken into account too. In addition, divides between socio-economic groups, gender and ethnic groups cannot be overlooked.

For years the human capital approach has almost monopolised the official reading of this point. In this vein, the contribution of education to foster the other dimensions has been widely documented. In fact, education has positive effects on opportunities in the labour market, on economic performance, on fertility, on public health, on democracy and many other aspects. However, recently the interest in the wider picture is growing, not least because the connections between the other dimensions are noticed but also because the effects on education of any other shortcomings are also taken into account (e.g. see this policy brief). The 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report clearly states that education is linked to the other SDGs. The Report also claims that this is a two-way connection with education impacting on the other SDGs and these other SDGs influencing education too. Therefore, it is interesting to think carefully about an array of possible connections. Three examples provide some food for thought.

To start with, sanitation may impinge on education in direct and indirect ways. The direct effect has to do with material constraints at home, such as the availability of space for playing and doing homework. The indirect is even more powerful, since sanitation influences health, and health may determine the potential for education. Here, data tend to indicate that the correlation between sanitation and primary school completion has changed during the last decades, probably due to improvements in both dimensions (see here).

The fact that the bulk of the world population leaves in cities provides other illustrations. Latin America is the continent with the most extreme manifestations of this phenomenon. There, evidence shows an increasing trend to socio-economic segregation so much so that high-income persons normally live in socially homogeneous areas which are well connected with other similar communities. This trend provokes perverse consequences for other social groups, mostly because it tends to accumulate problems of poverty, school drop-out and low-skills jobs in peri-urban areas where the basic facilities are also weak (here). In addition, urban violence is particulary worrying in some countries. This is the case in Latin America, This violence constrains the use of urban space, and certainly, shortens the life expectancy of the youth. These consequences are clearly harmful for education (see map 5 and figure 3 here)

Last but not least, income inequalities and adult skills are correlated in the countries with a higher HDI. Income gaps are an effect of skills polarisation, but income poverty also becomes a powerful barrier to skills development. While Scandinavian countries are able to alleviate inequality and strengthen the skills of the adult population, Anglo-Saxon countries maintain large economic gaps and polarised distributions of skills, and other countries maintain economic gaps and lower average levels of skills (eg. Spain, Italy, Ireland and Poland) (see graph and blog post here).

This entry was posted on Dimecres, 5 octubre, 2016 at 12:54 and is filed under Educació i polítiques socials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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