02 SES 08 A, Inclusion and Exclusion
In this paper we will present the design, development and first results of the research project “Success and dropout pathways in vocational training educational system levels 1 and 2” in the region of Valencia (Spain). This project is developed in three Spanish regions (Baleares, Cataluña and Comunidad Valenciana) and has as main objectives generating knowledge about Vocational Educational Training (VET hereafter) level 1 and 2 focusing on their students and the conditions that facilitate or hinder their educational itineraries, and providing proposals aimed at reducing dropout at these levels.
One of the most critical indicators of the Spanish educational system is the rate of early leavers from education and training: our country has one of the highest rates of the European Union with 19% in 2006 (Eurostat). Although this indicator has been reduced during the socio-economic crisis (it reached 31.7% in 2008), it remains well above the European average, at 11%. Faced with this situation, the fight against school dropout and early school leaving has become one of the objectives of the strategic framework Education and Training 2020. In particular, the benchmarks for 2020 set for education includes that the rate of early leavers from education and training aged 18-24 should be below 10%. In Spain, the target is 15%. This interest confirms the Spanish and EU’s concern for post-compulsory training as a key in the transition processes between training and employment, since compulsory schooling is a necessary but not sufficient condition to guarantee a successful social and labour inclusion.
The educational administrations maintain as primary objectives in the educational field the reduction of these rates and the increase of the educational level of the population. In this sense, they have incorporated comprehensive practices with which it is intended to address the diversity of educational situations and needs, as well as facing the most exclusionary dynamics of school. This has meant a diversification of the educational experiences and the itineraries generated. In a global sense, these experiences have to be understood in the sociohistorical context that frames them and that we define as a flexible capitalism (Alonso, 2001; Sennett, 2000) that requires the internalization of some social patterns, such as adaptability or flexibility for the justification of success and failure in the labour and social inclusion. Therefore, we frame the educational itineraries and the school-to-work transitions in this context (Casal, García & Merino, 2007; Tarabini, Curran, Montes & Parcerisa, 2015).
On the basis of this situation and taking into consideration the background in the field of study, this research project is aimed to studying VET programs of level 1 (Basic Vocational Training, FPB) and level 2 (Middle Level Training Cycles, CFGM). We consider that these educational contexts are key in the construction of educational and professional itineraries. In addition, specifically FPB has a clear link with early school leaving, as it is one of the measures proposed to reduce the high rates of this indicator in our educational system. In this framework, we approach the educational and professional itineraries as the processes that the students develop in the paths that the educational system orders and that derive in various possibilities of professional transitions (Casal, Merino, García & Quesada, 2006a, 2006b).
The project has a longitudinal methodological strategy, a fundamental approach in the research on itineraries and transitions that allows a better understanding of the process that students follow in the educational institution (Casal, Merino & García, 2011). It is very remarkable that it is the first time that this method of collecting information, typical of the Social Sciences, is used to do research in VET in the Valencian Region. The choice of the region of Valencia as a territory of analysis is based on previous studies from the human geography that show that the city of Valencia is a representative geographical context (Azagra & Romero, 2007, Pitarch & Uceda, 2015). Moreover, the inclusion in the fieldwork of the whole region allows us to broaden the scope of our research, including populations that are not usually represented in VET studies, something that adds value to this research project. The proposed longitudinal strategy combines methods that enable quantitative and qualitative analysis, which allows us an exhaustive study of the itineraries and the reasons that can lead to success or failure. Specifically, we use the following research methods: I. Analysis of statistical data related to enrolment and graduation in levels 1 and 2 of VET in the region of Valencia. II. Passing out questionnaires to students of these levels for two consecutive years. These questionnaires contemplate the following dimensions: sociodemographic characteristics, current educational and/or labour situation of the students, biographical aspects, and aspects related to the VET program. III. Development of discussion groups with students and teachers in order to analyse the results obtained in the questionnaires and to study in depth the causes that lead to success or failure in educational itineraries. In the design of the project, we have a stratified sampling based on three criteria for the stratification by conglomerates: (i) the professional family of the program, (ii) the geographical distribution, differentiating the educational organizations located in the metropolitan area of the city of Valencia of those outside and (iii) the ownership of the organization, distinguishing those public from those private. In the first phase of the project, whose results we will present in this paper, we have collected 737 questionnaires in VET level 1, distributed in 71 classrooms of 41 organizations and 1240 questionnaires in VET level 2, distributed in 85 classrooms of 43 organizations of the whole region.
The analysis of the data obtained through the different methods will allow us to make, first of all, a detailed map of the educational offering of VET level 1 and 2 in the region of Valencia. In this regard, the distribution of the programs gives us information about the differential access that young students have to the educational resources of the region. This is not only close related to the educational and professional transitions, but also to the production and reproduction of social and educational inequalities within the educational system. The passing of questionnaires and discussion groups will enable us to achieve two objectives. On the one hand, we will describe and analyse the itineraries carried out by students who access FPB and CFGM. On the other hand, we will be able to analyse the reasons that lead to the success or failure of the educational itineraries of the students. On balance, the results of the project will allow us to analyse the possibilities and limitations of these programs as a policy to deal with the school dropout and the early school leaving in our educational system.
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