“Race” and education are profoundly interconnected in the Czech context, and this is especially visible with respect to the issue of the Roma population. The communist regime of the former Czechoslovakia made use of the educational environment to strengthen its ideology through teacher training, discriminative legislation, and changing the content of education. “Race” issues in society were “solved” by segregating most Roma children into what were called “special schools” for the mentally disabled. The fall of communism introduced freedom and changes to all of society, particularly in the education system, but new education legislation was not passed until 15 years after the fall of communism, and it did not address issues around discrimination sufficiently. In 2007, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the Czech Republic for having discriminated against a group of Roma children during the 1990s. This means a discriminatory situation and its consequences were still visible almost 30 years after the fall of communism. In response to this ruling, inclusion policy began to be promoted in Czech schools as of 2016. The situation from the perspective of legislation has been becoming more equal—the Act on Education has been amended, the financial support for disadvantaged children in education has become more transparent, and so on, but data from research conducted after amendment of the Act on Education show that the situation in or near what are called “socially excluded areas” has become much more difficult. Roma children are segregated not just by the official decisions of school establishers (municipalities) but also through parents, teachers, and head teachers from the majority population who interpret the applicable rules in such a way that Roma children, pupils, and students are concentrated into specific schools and do not attend school together with majority-society (non-Roma) children. “Race” issues, in combination with poverty, are drawing new borders around access to education. Roma children are not always welcome in the schools. These are reasons why the interconnectedness of the education system with issues related to racism in the context of a transforming society should be carefully analyzed. There are several facets of the topic, which we should take into consideration: First, terms like race, culture, and ethnicity are very often used without a deeper discussion of their meaning. It is necessary to use them precisely and reflectively. Second, this interconnectedness between race and education works on individual and interpersonal levels, the cultural level, and the structural level. They all should be taken into consideration while planning research, changes, or interventions. Finally, the interplay between these three levels is visible when we analyze real examples from the field (e.g., an intervention initiated by a nongovernmental Roma organization, Awen Amenca, in the city in the Czech Republic with the highest concentration of socially excluded localities).
“Race,” Inequality, and Education in the Czech Republic
Dana Moree, Alena Kosak Felcmanova, and Magdaléna Karvayová
Inclusive Education as a Human Right
Ignacio Calderón-Almendros and Gerardo Echeita-Sarrionandia
Inclusive education has been internationally recognized as a fundamental human right for all, without exception. This international recognition seeks to address the dramatic inequality in current societies, since the enjoyment of the right to education for many disadvantaged people depends on it being inclusive. The recognition and enjoyment of this right requires a detailed analysis of the meaning and scope of inclusive education, as well as of the barriers and the main challenges faced. The consideration of inclusive education as a right, with its moral and legal implications, has been achieved to a large extent thanks to the political impact of diverse association movements of people with (dis)abilities. Paradoxically, many students with disabilities continue to be systematically segregated into special schools and classrooms, which violates their right to inclusive education. There is therefore much to learn from this contradiction. A lot also needs to be done to ensure the equal dignity and rights of people that experience exclusion and segregation associated with gender, social class, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, ability, etc. To this end, it is important to conceptually delimit the neoliberal domestication of a profoundly transformative term. The historical evolution of the recognition of inclusive education as a human right needs to be understood. There is also a need to consider the strength of the scientific evidence supporting it in order to counter certain views that question its relevance, despite them having been soundly refuted. Untangling these knots enables a more situated and realistic analysis to address some of the problems to be tackled in the implementation of inclusive education. This is a social and political endeavor that must break away from the market-oriented logic in education systems. It involves accepting that it is a fundamental right to be guaranteed through collective responsibility.
Education Policy in Turkey
Arnd-Michael Nohl and Nazli Somel
When the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, the new rulers established a national, secular education system, in contrast to the previous Ottoman system of Islamic schools. The country then saw a rapid expansion of education that helped reach the vastly illiterate population and later provided secondary and tertiary education for the future workforce. This took place parallel to the developing industry and service sectors, starting in the 1950s. By 1980, Turkey had become a largely urban society, and enrollment in grades 1 to 5 had grown to 97%. By the year 2000, enrollment in grades 1 to 8 was at 100%. Since its foundation, centrally organized education in Turkey has been an important instrument for the ideological formation and social promotion of its citizens, so it has stood in the middle of political and social debates. The ideological direction of education in Turkey stands at the crossroads of nationalism versus minority rights, and secularism versus Islam. These have been ongoing issues, most apparently in the discussions on allowing mother-tongue education (especially Kurdish) and opening and closing imam and preacher schools. The variant poor quality of education has occasionally been a point of contention and catalyzed competition between schools, teachers, and pupils. The growing competitive character of Turkish education was accompanied by great social inequalities between gender and class positions as well as between geographical regions. Regarding the educational inequalities, the changed character of education after 1980, from being a public service to an enterprise, also involving the private sector, namely, the neoliberal education policies era, became one of the main discussion topics. Since the Justice and Development Party, under R. T. Erdoğan, took power after the 2002 general elections, upper-secondary and tertiary education has grown, but the quality problem remains. Similarly, social inequalities were still a highly critical problem in education, reciprocally fueled by an ever-growing competition into which private schools and universities were forced. After the ruling party succeeded in getting the state apparatus under its control and announced a “New Turkey,” the government turned its back on the ideological foundations of the republic and promoted additional religious education in general schools, as well as in the imam and preacher schools, whose graduates were again permitted to follow nonclerical career paths.
Inclusion and Migration
In a context of globalization and increased mobility, migration has brought new societal challenges to nation-states, raising questions about how countries can promote inclusion within contexts of increased diversity. Education occupies a central yet paradoxical place in this process. On the one hand, schools’ failure to be fully inclusive of new forms of diversity is decried as a cause of violence and fragmentation in society. On the other hand, schools are invested with the role of including and socializing individuals from diverse backgrounds for future participation in society. There is little agreement on how this can best be achieved. Central to these questions are the ways in which educational systems can engage with increasing diversity, be it new movements of people, new forms of communication, and networks, or more complex forms of identity. These present new challenges in terms of educational policy and practice, locally, nationally, and globally. Young migrants face multiple barriers to inclusion, such as underachievement, discrimination, and segregation. In order to fully engage with these challenges, global and national policies need to be considered alongside institutional structures, the role of key stakeholders (teachers, support staff, parents, local community members), and the experience of young immigrants.
Schooling and Equity in Israel
Yariv Feniger, Yossi Shavit, and Shir Caller
Education in Israel is compulsory and free, from the age of three to the end of secondary school (12th grade). Compulsory education culminates in matriculation examinations that serve as the main criterion for enrollment in higher education. Although Israel is geographically small, and ethnic and religious subpopulations live in close proximity to one another, they are highly segregated both residentially and in schools. The Jewish and Arab school sectors are almost completely separate. Most Arab students study in Arab state schools, where the language of instruction is Arabic and the staff are Arab. Jewish students study in state, state religious, or independent ultra-Orthodox schools. The high degree of economic inequality in Israel is reflected in educational inequality, which is the highest among the countries participating in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Inequalities between social strata are affected in part by the economic circumstances of families in early childhood. Inequality in educational achievement is particularly evident between Jews and Arabs but it is also prominent within each of these two societies. The public educational system is centralized and curricula are standardized, but religious Jewish groups enjoy considerable organizational and curricular autonomy. Arab state schools, in contrast, do not enjoy similar autonomy. Rapid expansion of higher education has contributed to a dramatic increase in graduation rates in all social categories but large gaps remain, especially along ethnoreligious lines, in graduation rates, fields of study, and quality of institutions attended.
Student Voice, Inequalities, and Class
Rachel Finneran, Eve Mayes, and Rosalyn Black
It is well-understood that systems of education tend to disproportionately benefit already advantaged social groups. Students have been positioned in recent reform efforts as agents with the right to be involved in decision-making on an increasing range of issues related to their education, in practices commonly termed “student voice” in policy, practice, and research. Student voice has been argued to be a mechanism to intervene in educational inequalities and a means to enhance students’ choices at school. Student voice is frequently represented as a neutral proposition: that is, that students’ involvement in decision-making will directly benefit both the school and the students themselves. This apparently neutral proposition elides how, in practice, some students may benefit from experiences of “student voice” more than others. Critiques of student voice, as well as contemporary calls for a return to class analysis in education, compel attention to the potential ways that student voice practices can aggravate existing inequalities. Classed dynamics contour even well-intentioned attempts to intervene in educational inequalities. The dynamic experience of class has shifted in relation to student voice across contexts and over time, particularly in individualistic, market-driven educational systems structured by the rhetoric of “choice.” Further research into the shifting nature of class in relation to student voice may include longitudinal processes of “studying up” to understand how student voice can be mobilized to cultivate educational advantage and distinction in class-privileged schooling contexts. What is also needed is a renewed uptake of the concept of class consciousness in student-voice practice—that is, beyond voice as a strategy to personalize individual students’ learning and toward enactments of student voice as collective work—if student voice is to disrupt the reproduction of structural inequalities through schooling.
Qualitative Research Approaches to Educational Inequality in Latin America
Ana Maria F. Almeida and Sandra Ziegler
International comparisons demonstrate considerable educational inequality across Latin America. Since the return of democracy in the region in the mid-1980s, these educational disparities have become an important object of studies and public policies, not least because educational inequality reflects, and entrenches, deep social inequalities across the region. Studies of this phenomenon are multifaceted, with distinctions between qualitative and quantitative approaches corresponding to distinct disciplinary fields (sociology, psychology, history versus economics, notably), university departments (colleges of education, sociology departments versus economics departments), and gender (women versus men). Qualitative approaches examine a limited number of cases, usually using interviews and ethnographies, to examine a circumscribed space of social action, often limited to a small set of institutions within a single national framework. Studies carried out in this perspective support the construction of hypotheses that can then be tested with a larger number of cases. They are particularly suited to identifying multiple, mutually influencing causalities, thus enabling a dense description of the complex dynamics that lead to the reproduction of educational inequality in the region. At the same time, these approaches have not tackled comparative analysis nor have they addressed the global dynamics affecting education in the region.
Market Economy, Social Change, and Education Inequality in China
Shibao Guo and Yan Guo
China has experienced major shifts from a centrally planned economy to a market economy, from centralization to decentralization, from state ownership to privatization, and from a decisive state to a weakened state. Despite China’s economic miracle, the country also faces unprecedented challenges, including rising social inequality, rural-urban divide, regional disparity, environmental degradation, declining health and education conditions, and polarization between the rich and poor. China’s profound socioeconomic and political transformations have led to significant fundamental changes to education in China, as manifested in its decentralization, marketization, and privatization. One significant paradigm change relates to the devolution of education power and policy from a centralized governance model to local governments. With the privatization and marketization of its education system, China has adopted a market-oriented approach with the orientation, provision, student enrollment, curriculum, and financing of education. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that there has been a withdrawal of the mighty state from its paternalistic role in the provision and subsidy of public education. Unfortunately, the market economy has further increased education inequalities. The maldistribution of resources and education opportunities raises important questions about issues of social justice and equity regarding who gets how much education as the social good.
Peer Effects in Education
Jonathan Pratschke and Giovanni Abbiati
In the social sciences, the term “peer effects” has been widely used to describe the various ways in which individual behaviors and attitudes can be influenced by friends, acquaintances, and the wider social environment. Due to the crucial role of social interactions within the school context, the role of peers in shaping academic outcomes has been under scrutiny for decades. Following seminal work by Manski, we distinguish between three different components of peer influence: endogenous (where the behavior of an individual varies in accordance with the behavior of the peer group), exogenous (where the behavior of an individual varies with the characteristics of the members of the peer group), and correlated (where the behavior of individuals is shaped by shared environmental or institutional factors). By estimating a simultaneous autoregressive model, we assess the relative strength of these three forms of peer influence in relation to secondary school exam results in a large sample of Italian school-leavers. One limitation is that we are only able to observe peer influence within the classroom, while another is that the study is confined to a specific moment in time, which comes quite late in young people’s educational trajectories. The results confirm that peer processes play an important role in the reproduction of social inequalities, against the backdrop of institutional criteria for the selection of students into schools and classes. These factors therefore demand the sustained attention of educational administrators and policymakers.
Higher Education in China
China’s higher education system witnessed quite a few dramatic institutional changes in recent years. The state has been making a series of attempts to increase the quantity of higher education opportunities through massive expanding of higher education’s capacity (also referred to as the massification of higher education). Meanwhile, the system experienced marketization and privatization, in which the funding for higher education institutions (HEIs) increasingly depends on the non-state sector and student payments for tuition fees. The private (minban) HEIs and Sino-foreign HEIs began to develop in China. With a strong conviction to enhance the global competitiveness of top universities, master plans for developing world-class universities and disciplines were initiated, and talent programs were adopted to attract global high-skilled talent to HEIs in China to enhance the teaching and research capability of HEIs. In recent years, HEIs have been granted larger institutional autonomy with greater accountability. Higher education in China has experienced dramatic institutional changes in recent years and has made great achievements and gained international acclaim. Given such capacity, HEIs became one of the largest systems in the world. More and more higher education opportunities have been provided for students, and an increasing number of leading scholars in the world have been attracted to HEIs in China. However, the development of higher education has encountered several challenges—in particular, unequal opportunities for higher education attainment, difficulties for college graduates in finding employment, and the unequal development of higher education among disciplines, between universities, and across regions. Critical reflections on the development of higher education in China and the notion of broadly defined educational equality are required.
Urban Inequalities in Swedish Schools
Segregation, aspects of school choice policy, and symbolic representations are principal structural traits, although not the only ones, that generate and sustain the system of differences and urban inequalities in Swedish schools. Pertinent to all three traits are objectively and symbolically constructed boundaries between places, institutions, and groups. Segregation in an urban context means not just a physical separation of groups with unequal access to material resources and the means of their acquisition (education, network), but also a symbolic collapse of a society into place-making dichotomies: we and them, Swedes and immigrants, suburbs and inner-cities. Assets ostensibly appreciated in the school market, such as a good school and a positive school culture, express the arbitrary nature of their symbolic construction. What is recognized as a good school is equally a matter of statistical figures proving its competitiveness and the assumed qualities of its student composition. Major policy interventions for reducing urban inequalities in schools could be divided into two segments: (a) the reinforcement-oriented policy provides additional support to schools and students in structurally disadvantaged areas, for example, more school personnel, higher salaries for teachers, more teachers in Swedish as a second language; (b) the close down and disperse-oriented policy identifies the very existence of schools with persistently low results in urban contexts as an inequality generating factor. Consequently, in the name of integration and reducing inequalities, those schools are increasingly being closed down and their students dispersed elsewhere. Neither policy has proven its capacity to unwaveringly address urban inequalities in Swedish schools.
Higher Education Equity and Justice
The higher education (HE) equity and social justice agenda is primarily concerned with inequalities in the participation of underrepresented groups. The main purpose of this agenda is to widen access to the social privileges that HE offers. Transnational policy agencies and national governments have advised higher education institutions (HEIs) to deploy relevant indicators and implement inclusive practices, such as financial assistance, nondiscriminatory admission mechanisms, and student guidance and counseling. HEIs have also been funded to provide outreach and widening participation programs in several countries. In the early 21st century, the conceptualization of HE equity and justice has broadened from fair access to more holistic, procedural, and intersectional approaches. Still, the lack of reliable, relevant, and feasible policy indicators and data make it a challenging objective to measure and follow up. Furthermore, research has pointed out the need for contextualized definitions of equity and justice because the specific social and cultural challenges differ from one country to another. Equity and justice manifest themselves in the broader design of national and regional HE systems. Some HE systems have stronger institutional stratification and financial barriers than others, hence restraining the fairness of access and social inclusion. The application of Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological theory has dominated much of the research on structural constraints of HE equity and justice. An understanding of the connection between structure/agency and the cultural reproduction opens up new avenues for the development of HE equity and justice in both policy and practice.
School Reform, Educational Governance, and Discourses on Social Justice and Democratic Education in Germany
In Germany, at the beginning of the 2000s, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) not only served as a catalyst for the development and implementation of an overall strategy for quality assurance and development of the state school systems. The school effectiveness movement has also brought the issue of educational inequality, which had been lost out of sight in the 1980s, back on the agenda. In ongoing reforms, the improvement of the educational success of children and young people with a migration history and/or a socioeconomically deprived family background has been declared a priority. However similar to the situation in Anglo-American countries, where output-oriented and data-driven school reforms have been implemented since the 1980s, considerable tensions and contradictions became visible between the New Educational Governance and a human rights- and democracy-oriented school development. A Foucauldian discourse analysis of central education and integration policy documents at the federal political level from 1964 to 2019 examined how, and with what consequences, demands of inclusion, social justice, and democracy were incorporated, (re)conceptualized, distorted, or excluded in the New Educational Governance, which was a new type of school reform in Germany. The results of the study indicate that the new regulations of school development are far from shaping school conditions in a human rights–based understanding of inclusion and democratic education. The plethora of measures taken to improve the school success of children and young people with a history of migration (in interaction with other dimensions of inequality such as poverty, gender, or special educational needs) is undermined by a far-reaching depoliticization of discourse and normative revaluations. In the interplay of epistemology, methodology, and categories of school effectiveness research with managerialist steering instruments, spaces for democratic school development and educational processes, in which aspects of plurality, difference, and discrimination can be thematized and addressed in concerted professional action, appear to be systematically narrowed or closed. But the case of Germany also discloses some opposed tendencies, associated with the strengthened human rights discourse and new legislation to combat discrimination.
High-Stakes Testing, Standardization, and Inequality in the United States
High-stakes standardized tests standardize which knowledge is assessed, and because consequences are tied to their results, they have the impact of standardizing classroom content, teaching, and learning. The result is that students whose cultural identities do not fit the standardized norms created by test-based must either adapt or are left out of the curriculum and the classroom. This happens in a few key ways. First, as schools face increased pressure to raise test scores, curriculum content that embraces the diversity of student history, culture, and experience gets pushed out. In turn, this standardization of content limits the diversity of teacher and student identities expressed in classroom pedagogical experiences. Finally, given the disparate racial achievement on high-stakes tests, students of color face more intense pressure to perform, while at the same time their educational experiences become increasingly restricted and less rich than those of affluent, whiter students. Additionally, even though educational research has consistently shown that high-stakes testing correlates most strongly with the socioeconomic backgrounds of students and their communities, policymakers and many educators presume that these tests are offer objective measurements of individual merit. This mistaken belief ulitmately serves to hide and justify existing inequalities in the United States under the notion of individual achievement. The overall result being that high-stakes, standardized tests reproduce educational inequalities associated with race and class in the United States.
COVID-19 and Pupils’ Learning
Katharina Werner and Ludger Woessmann
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the life of school children in major ways. In many countries, schools were closed for several months, with various modes of distance learning in place. This challenged pupils’ learning experiences. In addition, social-distancing rules impeded their peer interactions, potentially impeding their socio-emotional development. We summarize the available evidence on how the pandemic affected the educational inputs provided by children, parents, and schools, how it impacted children’s cognitive and socio-emotional skills, and whether the experiences will leave a persistent legacy for the children’s long-run development. The evidence suggests that in most countries, a majority of children experienced substantial losses in the development of cognitive skills. The learning losses tend to be highly unequal, with children from low-socioeconomic-status families and children with low initial achievement suffering the largest losses. The COVID-19 pandemic also interfered with the socio-emotional well-being of many children, although serious longer-term repercussions to their socio-emotional development may be restricted to a limited subgroup of children. Because child development is a dynamic and synergistic process, in the absence of successful remediation the initial skill losses are likely to reduce subsequent skill development, lifetime income, and economic growth and increase educational and economic inequality in the long run.
Ethnic Minority Education in China
Mei Wu, MaryJo Benton Lee, Forrest W. Parkay, and Paul E. Pitre
The introduction of bilingual education, the institution of preferential policies, and the implementation of 9-year compulsory schooling and its strengthening measures have resulted in educational attainments that are significant for a country with the size and diversity of China. The percentage of the ethnic minority students receiving education has increased greatly since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949; however, bilingual education is still challenging because of an inadequate supply of qualified teachers and other resources. Preferential policies created educational opportunities for ethnic minorities but did not improve educational quality. Instead, these policies created disparities among different ethnic groups and the Han who live in ethnic minority areas. China’s minority groups are diverse, and its policymaking mechanisms are highly centralized. Designing programs that allow ethnic minorities to benefit from the PRC’s rapid economic development will continue to be a challenge.
Race, Ethnicity, and Education in the Anglosphere
Mass migration has transformed the education systems of many Western nations. Schools are more culturally diverse than ever before. The relationship between race, ethnicity, and education is being increasingly scrutinized. Some ethnic minority students face continued educational disadvantages as seen in their overrepresentation in disadvantaged schools and lower ability classes, below-average performances in standardized tests, and lower rates of high school completion and university admission. In contrast, other minority students, notably many children of Asian migrants, enjoy disproportionately high educational success and are viewed as a “model minority.” The education outcomes of ethnic minority students are therefore sharply polarized and largely reflect their levels of socioeconomic advantage. While high-achieving Asian students are often children of highly educated middle-class migrants, underperforming groups are typically from less-developed countries or disadvantaged social backgrounds. While educational disadvantage among ethnic minorities has been well documented for many decades, the phenomenon of educational success among minority groups is comparatively less well researched. The debates and evidence relating to Asian migrant students’ educational success need to be examined to provide a more holistic understanding of the role of race, ethnicity, and social class in shaping outcomes. As the fastest growing minority group in many anglophone countries, Asian migrants are reshaping many education systems, offering a new educational “success story” that urgently needs to be more fully understood. While some commentators attribute Asian success to cultural values, such as Confucianism, these kinds of cultural explanations are often simplistic and essentialist. The superior performance of many Asian migrant students reflects a complex array of both cultural and social factors. In particular, their parents, typically skilled migrants with strong educational capital, bring with them norms and practices honed during their own experiences with fiercely competitive education systems in Asia. This makes them well equipped to succeed in the increasingly competitive and hierarchical educational systems of the West. Their aspirations and anxieties reflect their migrant status in our unequal societies. Therefore, cultural values are often mediated by structural factors including national policies relating to immigration and education, students’ social class background and migrant status, and prevailing race relations and structures of opportunity in migrant-receiving societies in the West, all of which contribute to the polarized education outcomes of ethnic minority students.
High Stakes Testing and Educational Inequality in K-12 Schools
Ronald W. Solórzano
The ubiquitous use of high stakes tests in K-12 schools in the United States has a deleterious effect on students of color (e.g., Black and Latino). Punitive policies related to test outcomes, such as retention and graduation, have been particularly damaging. In fact, the historical use of tests has been linked to exclusionary and racist motives resulting in discriminatory practices in college admissions while leading to genetic and cultural deficit theories to explain low achievement for students of color. The legacy of these early uses of tests has maintained its adverse presence in today’s educational landscape. National data on grade retention, high school dropout rates, and achievement indicate that students of color are disproportionately penalized by school-based policies resulting in an unequal educational experience. Unfortunately, these trends have been persistent reflecting achievement gaps between White and Asian students and Latino and Black students, and where, in most cases, no meaningful progress in eliminating these gaps has been made. English learners are particularly harmed by these policies and tests since language and opportunity to learn (OTL) concerns persist. Trends of low achievement are attributed to poorly resourced schools, cultural deficit theories employed by school personnel, and the invalid use of tests. Schools could serve students better by employing a curriculum and instruction that is culturally and linguistically relevant, that integrates communities and schools to critically analyze their educational and social-political status and agency thus empowering both for lasting change. Furthermore, teachers need to be empowered to be instructional leaders who critically evaluate their curriculum and instruction so as to educate and liberate students of color.
Elite School Education Group Policy and Low-Performing Schools in China
Yu Zhang and Xuan Qi
Education inequality has been a challenging issue worldwide, and disparity across schools constitutes a significant proportion of total inequality. Effective policies to turn around low-performing schools (LPS) are therefore of great importance to both governments and students. The Elite School Education Group (ESEG) policy is an emerging one, and it has quickly become very influential in China, a country with one of the largest and most diversified education systems in the world. Under this policy, elite public schools (EPS), which have exceptionally enriched educational resources (i.e., high-quality teachers, strong principal leadership, excellent school cultures, etc.), are encouraged by the government to build school groups with LPS. Within the school group under the elite school brand, branch schools (i.e., the previous LPS) can share all kinds of resources from the EPS (including teachers and principals), and they may even utilize the prestige of the brand itself as a means to attract high-performing students. The ESEG policy enables the delivery of multiple turnaround interventions to LPS in an autonomous way, through building partnerships between EPS and LPS. While some LPS are successfully turned around, some are not. It depends on the effectiveness of the reforms undertaken in the branch schools. Of particular importance is the access to strong principal leadership, excellent teachers, and the school cultures from EPS. Incentives for EPS to participate in this reform include obtaining flexibility in personnel management, expanding school scale and influence, and mobilizing other resources. Despite the potential positive influence on the branch schools, the ESEG policy may have a more complex influence on the entire education ecology than initially expected. Indeed, there are now some concerns that the ESEG is creating new LPS, because more and more high-performing students are drawn out of normal schools and attracted to the ESEG-partnered schools during admission. Thus, the effectiveness of the ESEG policy should not be solely based on attracting high-performing students, but on improving overall education quality.
Education and Income Inequality in Hong Kong
Irrespective of the stages of economic development, most governments around the world are facing income inequality problems and are searching for a fix. There is a general perception that the provision of education opportunities to the younger generation can reduce income inequality. However, this general perception does not receive strong support by scholars. In the literature, empirical evidence collected by numerous researchers is mixed. Hong Kong, a culturally diverse and economically well-developed city economy, has undergone rapid economic development in the last few decades. It underwent structural change from an entrepôt to a labor-intensive manufacturing economy and finally became a service-oriented city economy. The Hong Kong story does not support the view that that making higher education more accessible to youngsters can help narrow income disparity. In fact, the evidence from the Hong Kong population census and by-census samples shows that well-educated workers experienced higher income dispersion than those workers with a lower educational level. Policymakers are advised not to rely on expanding higher education opportunities to alleviate income inequality problems.