You are here: Home Knowledge Base Society Tackling Inequality of Opportunities Proposals Introduce school vouchers for increased mobility
Symposium 2012

Proposal - Introduce school vouchers for increased mobility

The Challenge

Inequality has increased substantially in many countries in recent decades. Spectacular gains in the incomes and wealth of the richest fraction of the population often contrast with severe poverty in ...

Inequality has increased substantially in many countries in recent decades. Spectacular gains in the incomes and wealth of the richest fraction of the population often contrast with severe poverty in the same country. Inequality of outcomes often goes hand in hand with inequality of opportunities, as poor people endure various forms of social exclusion, including unequal access to education and health care, high rates of youth unemployment or precarious work and an absence of social recognition.

Over five and a half million young people in Europe under the age of 25 are unemployed at the moment. This cannot stand; for ethical and political reasons as well as on pure economic grounds. We need every single hand on deck if we are going to manage the challenges of the world’s debt crisis and the upcoming shift in demographics. We simply need more people to work more, for longer – and education is one of the most important tools in making it happen.

Unfortunately, one reason for high youth unemployment seems to be the inability of schools to produce students who are actually employable. In effect, the school systems’ inability to produce viable education leads to inequalities in opportunities as well as social and economic stagnation.

This is why many nations are now introducing political reforms in education or are updating their national curricula. It is to be welcomed, but I am afraid it is going to be too little, too late.

In many countries these changes are still piecemeal and still bereft of a true sense of the need for radical reform. Some countries focus on accountability only, without the understanding of what needs to be done to enhance the actual teaching situation. Others try to introduce choice but without the understanding of what framework would create a drive for excellence. Yet others try to create islands of excellence, but forget to introduce change that would truly challenge existing structures.

The demand of the kinds of skills that are easy to teach, and easy to test, are disappearing rapidly in our labour markets. In addition, qualifications have a high rate of inflation. What you learn today will soon be obsolete. The most important thing therefore, in addition to basic knowledge, is to learn to be creative and adaptive.

We need to ask ourselves questions like: Are students properly equipped for the changes and adaptability needed in tomorrow’s workplace? Do we have the right understanding of how students learn? Do we organize and incentivize schools and teachers in the right way? Do we use the right forms of accountability; do we measure the right things?

In answering these questions I would urge governments to reform on a greater scale than would have been politically possible just a few years back. Schools simply have to stop educating young people for unemployment. The only way we know how to achieve this is through more choice and a greater variety within the educational system.

So where are the good examples? Sweden’s free school reform from the early 90’s is definitely one which has increased choice and quality. The vocational training systems of Germany and Austria have helped close the gap between schools and the labour market. And in Singapore and Finland teachers have become more autonomous and better supported, benefitting students and results.

I believe there is not one single solution to this issue. Rather, we must trust parents and students to make informed choices and we must trust non-public entities to take part in this development. If we want students to be creative and entrepreneurial shouldn’t our schools be innovative too?

    Related Proposals

    Proposal
    Symposium 2012

    Invest early and intensively in the education of disadvantaged

    The only way that we know to effectively break the cycle of poverty where the poverty of parents is passed on to children is to provide high quality education. A major problem is that poor families of ...

    The only way that we know to effectively break the cycle of poverty where the poverty of parents is passed on to children is to provide high quality education. A major problem is that poor families often do not have the knowledge, skills, or ability to provide effective family education, while better off parents prepare their children for entering school at a much higher level. Earlier attention must be given to the pre-school education of poor children, but it cannot stop there. Without strong schooling – most importantly, highly effective teachers – poor children are unlikely to catch up with

    Polity, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2012

    Drivers to increased inequality

    A recent OECD publication, Divided We Stand – Why Inequality Keeps Rising, reveals a number of surprising findings. First, globalisation had little impact on both wage inequality and employment tren ...

    A recent OECD publication, Divided We Stand – Why Inequality Keeps Rising, reveals a number of surprising findings. First, globalisation had little impact on both wage inequality and employment trends. Rapid trade and foreign direct investment integration, including the related increase in import penetration from emerging economies, such as China and India, did generally not increase inequality on either end of the wage distribution. There are exceptions, however: in countries which have weaker employment protection, increased imports from low-income developing countries tended to heighten the domestic wage dispersion. Second, technological progress e.g. in information and communications, has exhibited a bias

    Polity
    Proposal
    Symposium 2012

    Create an ecosystem to implement multi-dimensional solutions

    It is still common to conceive that a single-dimensional approach can eliminate inequality of opportunities. Over and over again, we have heard how “education is the way to development”. Under thi ...

    It is still common to conceive that a single-dimensional approach can eliminate inequality of opportunities. Over and over again, we have heard how “education is the way to development”. Under this premise, a kid in the age of primary school could be sleeping on a mud floor and thus often sick, his family without the tools to generate income and thus the child often underfed. Both being sick and underfed will make his learning very difficult; and the implementation of that program will then prove inefficient. There must be a deep understanding that in order to truly provide equal opportunities,

    Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2012

    Co-creation as a key component in designing both public policy and business models.

    Over the years, there have been incredible ideas that failed at the implementation model. Time, resources and enthusiasm have been misspent. The perfect solution will not come from a university, a sci ...

    Over the years, there have been incredible ideas that failed at the implementation model. Time, resources and enthusiasm have been misspent. The perfect solution will not come from a university, a science lab or an office desk unless it has total input and hopefully redesign from the beneficiary. Understanding the immense capabilities and deep understanding of the beneficiary is a much-needed transition. Social housing policy has been a challenge throughout the region. Many times, lacking community input, social housing has consisted on building standardized houses on inexpensive land (and thus on the city outer limits) assigned to individuals families with

    Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2012

    Create a cross-sector volunteering culture.

    As pointed out by the OECD, inequality has grown; societies are fractured into two very isolated realities. Massive engagement through volunteering is a way of eliminating this isolation. For each sec ...

    As pointed out by the OECD, inequality has grown; societies are fractured into two very isolated realities. Massive engagement through volunteering is a way of eliminating this isolation. For each sector to step into the other’s shoes is key towards generating cross-sector commitment to addressing profound issues. The concrete proposal aims at implementing policies regarding volunteering engagement throughout all sectors. Regarding educational institutions, several countries have opted to enforce volunteer hours as a condition to graduate. Policy should walk the same line with businesses and public sector workers.

    Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2012

    Tackling the inequality of opportunity requires the implementation of meaningful participatory frameworks that reach across every level of society.

    Opportunity is too often restricted by individualistic attitudes towards pursuing continued economic success. Such attitudes, often held by the most privileged of society, provide no scope to include ...

    Opportunity is too often restricted by individualistic attitudes towards pursuing continued economic success. Such attitudes, often held by the most privileged of society, provide no scope to include those overlooked by success generated at the top of social food chain. The notion of shared value in society must be undertaken by all, whilst acknowledging that there is no one, short-term solution to this issue. Highlighting the interdependence of our society and the worth of inclusive behavior in action is a crucial step towards achieving a stable, flourishing economy. The nineteenth century Utopian philanthropic notion of ‘Greater Good’ can be re-born

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2012

    Encourage private schools for disadvantaged students

    Poor children often have limited access to good schools, and, where access exists, the schools are poor in quality. Because they cannot effectively choose their schools in the way that more economical ...

    Poor children often have limited access to good schools, and, where access exists, the schools are poor in quality. Because they cannot effectively choose their schools in the way that more economically advantaged families can, they are often left behind. The government can deal with this problem by providing scholarships (specific vouchers) to poor children at let them search for good schools. Particularly in developing countries, this has been shown to change opportunities for the poor dramatically. Details Limited school choices almost always work to the disadvantage of poor children because of both knowledge and politics. It is difficult to

    Polity, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2012

    Reform government budgets to put children and their families first and restore social capital within environmental resource limits

    Parliaments, finance ministries, and central banks around the world are working to stabilize government budgets. Success, however, requires acknowledging the true nature of budget crises. Failing in t ...

    Parliaments, finance ministries, and central banks around the world are working to stabilize government budgets. Success, however, requires acknowledging the true nature of budget crises. Failing in this intensifies opportunity inequality because less economically empowered families lose and constructive education and other reforms are crippled before they can be implemented. In the current budget fights, income inequality has emerged as a central justice concern. Emphasizing income inequality, however, is incomplete. It too frequently focuses on current adults and not on children and future generations. It too often emphasizes wealth redistribution and not social capital building. And it is usually a

    Polity
    Proposal
    Symposium 2012

    Shape global human capital agendas to recognize the role of human skill and capability development in early childhood.

    Disparities in capabilities are major contributors to economic and social inequality. Policies that equalize opportunities to acquire capabilities across all groups in society reduce inequality. They ...

    Disparities in capabilities are major contributors to economic and social inequality. Policies that equalize opportunities to acquire capabilities across all groups in society reduce inequality. They foster social inclusion, economic and social mobility, economic productivity, and social well-being. They promote critical thinking and the ability of persons to make informed, independent judgments about the world in which they live. Current policy discussions focus on promoting capabilities by improving schools and the quality of teachers. The success of schools is measured by scores on achievement tests like the PISA and the No Child Left Behind exams. Many of these discussions put

    Polity
    Proposal
    Symposium 2012

    Fund early childhood social impact bond research and program development

    Social Impact Bond (SIB) “pay for success” financing approaches build on the overlap of for-profit and non-profit incentives and can be used to augment the resources available to an economy for hu ...

    Social Impact Bond (SIB) “pay for success” financing approaches build on the overlap of for-profit and non-profit incentives and can be used to augment the resources available to an economy for human capital development. In developing SIB programs the three most important questions are: (1) Can research satisfactorily affirm that a particular early childhood intervention with a clearly identified group of children yields government cost savings or revenue increases? (2) Can those cost savings or revenue increases be monetized via enforceable contracts between a social impact bond (SIB) issuing institution, a few government agencies, and the providers of the intervention

    Business
    Proposal
    Symposium 2012

    Land Grabbers Can Profit from Doing the Right Thing

    The Problem: In the current land grab phenomenon, foreign investors are acquiring large tracts of land both in developed countries, such as the United States and Australia, and developing countries, s ...

    The Problem: In the current land grab phenomenon, foreign investors are acquiring large tracts of land both in developed countries, such as the United States and Australia, and developing countries, such as Sudan and the Philippines. While governments in the developed world generally ensure that foreign investment firms respect human rights and the environment, governments in the developing world too often fail to protect their citizens or simply look the other way. For these reasons, many humanitarian and environmental groups would like to put a stop to land grabbing. However, considering that billions of dollars and the food and energy

    Polity, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2012

    Developing country business models

    How can specific business models such as profit sharing or employee owned or cooperative organization forms generate more equality? The cooperative or community based organization model increases equa ...

    How can specific business models such as profit sharing or employee owned or cooperative organization forms generate more equality? The cooperative or community based organization model increases equality because every member has contributed an equal financial share towards the establishment of the organization and this eliminates the disparity of some having more than others and all players in the organization enter and benefit at a level economic playing field. Second is that all of the organizations members are in agreement with the selected income generating activities that the organization is involved in and are also the human capacity and employees

    Polity, Business
    Proposal
    Symposium 2012

    Tackling Inequality of Opportunities

    1. Tackling inequality is a holistic task, it requires no less than aligning the whole economy and society A stable, sustainable and prospering economy with all marks of good governance is a necessary ...

    1. Tackling inequality is a holistic task, it requires no less than aligning the whole economy and society A stable, sustainable and prospering economy with all marks of good governance is a necessary prerequisite for the equality of opportunities. Tight macroeconomic policies, on-going reforms and fine-tunings of all kinds of institutions and processes in response to the needs of time may help avoiding crises and misfortunes with unforeseeable and uncontrollable consequences for individuals. 2. Raise awarness of inequality of opportunities by setting up a transparent measurement framework Tackling inequality of opportunities requires in a first step an analysis of the

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society