14 SES 08 B, Young People's Trajectories and Pathways across Borders
Living in border regions fosters major contextual specificities to young people developing identities and inherent future educational and professional pathways (Benedit & Miranda, 2015). The purpose of this paper is to assessPortugueseyoung people’ projects after completing compulsory education in border regions. Our aim is to analyze and interpret intentions either to future engagement in Higher Education (HE), to start working or if they consider both. Furthermore, and following the literature arguments that parents’ education influences their children future prospects (Fuller, 2014), we will correlate with those two types of results.
Portugal is marked by regional asymmetries following the tendency for a continuous attraction for metropolitan and coastal territories, similarly to other European countries (Cavaco et al., 2015), while borderlands are mainly characterized as peripheral (Silva, 2013). These regions suffer from depopulation, specific constraints, also geographic, in accessing education, labor market and cultural rights (Carmo, 2011). Showing higher rates of illiteracy (12% comparing to the national average of 5.2%, PRODATA 2011) and early school leaving (UE/FEDER, 2016), commonly, inhabitants struggle with lower yearly income households (1837€ below the national average), and higher unemployment rates, compared to urban areas (INE, 2016), illustrating a general lack of infrastructures, services or industries. Spreading to schools, this lack compromises student’s rights to education. For instance, in 9 of the 38 border municipalities secondary schools are non-existent for young people to accomplish compulsory education close to their homes (M.E., 2017), building another layer of disadvantage. This absence results on necessary investments from families and students and also local organizations and municipalities, to fulfill rights that should be guaranteed for all. Since most of those youngsters come from low-income families, investing in Higher Education of their children elsewhere is costly, especially if they want to attend the best HE Institutions, that are usually located in seaside regions and big urban centres. Furthermore, most schools do not provide diversified curricula offers, especially for practice-oriented courses, available in public schools in more populated areas, narrowing student’s options regarding secondary education. This scarcity of options becomes an additional setback when deciding future pathways, which might lead to an inner struggle between what they want to pursue and the existing options. Therefore, issues of social and educational justice arise from these fewer educational opportunities in building foundations for young people’s future (Silva, 2014). From one part, we are trying to sociologically and educationally acknowledge regularities and specificities combined in these young people’ lives; on another part, we aim to call the attention to the fact that their right to education might be compromised as well as their engagement with their own regions. Fraser (2001) claims that social justice results from a dualistic dynamic between recognition and redistribution (and later representation), which should be idealistically balanced. These dynamics are compromised in Portuguese borderlands, where the redistribution of opportunities is fragile, as well as recognition, as identity differences intertwined with the geographical, historical and cultural contexts are not considered. The struggle for redistribution for these youngsters relates to fewer career and educational prospects and opportunities after secondary school (Silva, 2014). This recognition becomes particularly important while youngsters are planning future pathways (Serracant, 2015) and the decision of whether engage in Higher Education becomes intertwined with the necessity to leave the region, the perceived value and usefulness of Higher Education to one’s future and aspects related to the family of origin such as education and beliefs toward it. We aim to provide a portrait of what are young people, living in Portuguese borderlands, planning for this important transition despite contextual constraints.
This paper results from a broader national project (GROW.UP - Grow up in border regions in Portugal: young people, educational pathways and agendas - PTDC/CED-EDG/29943/2017) taking place in the 38 municipalities bordering Portugal and Spain and started in July 2018. The data presented and discussed in this place was collected in 38 schools, contacted via email and phone to explain the study goals and requesting their participation that consisted in the application of a questionnaire (on paper and on site) to secondary school students during a regular school day. Geographically, the selected schools under analysis are distributed across the 38 border regions from the northern to the southern part of the country. Our sample comprised 2653 participants attending grades 10th to 12th from whom 55.5% were female and 44.5% male. The questionnaire applied comprises several scales to access students’ educational pathways and experiences in their schools and communities. Here, we selected key items that intended to access secondary school students’ perceptions about their career or educational paths after 12th grade. We aim to understand if these youngsters intend to engage in Higher Education after secondary school, and if this decision is rooted in the family of origin and linked to the believe of a brighter future; or intend to start working due the disbelieve on the value of diplomas or need to help their families. Additionally, we aim to address if parent’s education is underlying student’s choices. The answers to the items were asked in 5 points Likert scale ranging from 1 – totally disagree to 5 – totally agree. The Kruskal-Wallis test was performed to access differences in student’s goals after 12th grade according to parent’s education. Cohen’s d coefficients where calculated to estimate effect size and interpreted following Cohen’s (1988) recommendations. Kendall’s non-parametric rank correlations were estimated to measure the strength of dependence between variables and results were interpreted according to Kendall’s (1955) guidelines. Data analysis was performed using IBM SPSS Statistics 25. After missing values analysis, we noticed a very low rate of unanswered questions per item and per participant, therefore no procedure to handle them was performed.
This paper contributes to the understanding of young people career plans considering geographical specificities: living in border regions. We emphasize regional struggles for recognition and inequalities in their rights to education. Youngsters choice of pursuing a vocational identity often brings the need to leave their region and maintain the affiliation to their homeland(Silva, 2013) increasing challenges to life planning. Nevertheless, our results show that most of these youngsters expect to engage in Higher Education(H.E.) after 12th grade and fewer intend to start working. Our findings suggest these expectations correlate with the belief that H.E. will enable them for a brighter future. Correlations were lower for students who are planning to start working after secondary school, who don’t seem to believe that HE could enhance future trajectories. The lack of qualified jobs in their regions (Ferrão & Delicado, 2017) might foster the thought that H.E. is not a priority. Furthermore, the correlation found between the urgency to start working and the students’ need of helping their families, possibly reflects economic constraints. The intention of engaging H.E. seems early rooted in youngsters’ development, who reported growing up with this idea, and likely linked to parents’ values towards education (Martins, et al, 2012), more than parents education itself. Students whose parents have lower education levels reported more frequently the intention to engage in H.E. rather than start working, than those whose parents completed higher education levels. Furthermore, students whose parents report lower education levels are the ones who grew up with the idea of attending H.E. and tend to think it will provide a brighter future for them. Against all constrains most of these youngsters conceive their future passing by H.E. Youth experiences are heterogeneous and marked by agency possibilities (Araújo & Willis, 2008) but their background affects educational opportunities (Silva, 2010).
Araújo, H., & Willis, P.(2008). Jovens, Percursos e Transições em Instituições e Comunidades Educativas: Uma revisitação na Grã-Bretanha e em Portugal. Educação, Sociedade & Culturas, 27, 7-13. Benedit, R. & Miranda, A,(2015). Transitions to Adulthood in Contexts of Economic Crisis and Post-recession. The Case of Argentina. Journal of Youth Studies, 18:2, 183-196. Carmo, R. (2011) Entre as Cidades e a Serra. Mobilidades, Capital Social e Associativismo no Interior Algarvio. [Between Cities and Mountains. Mobility, Social Capital and Associativism in the Interior Algarve]. Lisboa: Mundos Sociais. Cavaco, C.; Vilares, E.; Rosa, F.; Tavares, M.; Magalhães, M. & Esteves, N.(2015). Cidades Sustentáveis 2020 - Diagnóstico Territorial. Lisboa: Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy. Cohen, J. 1988. Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioural Sciences. Hillsdale: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates. European Union/European Regional Development Fund (UE/FEDER). 2016. Retrieved from http://www.poctep.eu/sites/default/files/documentos/1420/Diagnostico_POCTEP_ES_V_07_04_14_5Mb.pdf Ferrão, J. & Delicado, A.(2017). Portugal Social em Mudança - Retratos municipais [Portugal Social Change - Municipal portraits]. Lisboa: Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa Fraser, N.(2001). Recognition without Ethics? Theory, Culture & Society. 18, 2: 21–42. Fuller, C.(2014). Social Capital and the Role of Trust in Aspirations for Higher Education. Educational Review 66 (2): 131–147. Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE). 2016. Regiões em Números 2015/2016. [Regions in Numbers]. Retrieved from http://www.dgeec.mec.pt/np4/96/ Kendall, M. 1955. Rank Correlation Methods. New York: Hafner Publishing. Martins, M.; Gouveia, T. & Costa, M.E.(2012). Sucesso Escolar no Ensino Secundário: Factores Promotores e Trajectórias do Adolescente” In Promoção do Sucesso Educativo: Projectos de Pesquisa, E. Alves, M. Leónidas & M. Torres, 143-187. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian. PORDATA (2011). Illiteracy Rates. Retrieved from: https://www.pordata.pt/Portugal/Taxa+de+analfabetismo+segundo+os+Censos Serracant, P. (2015). The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Youth Trajectories: A Case Study from Southern Europe. Young, 23, 1: 39-58. Silva, S.M. (2010). Da Casa da Juventude aos Confins do Mundo: Etnografia de Fragilidades, Medos e Estratégias Juvenis. Porto: Edições Afrontamento. Silva, S.M. (2013). Disinheriting the Heritage and the Case of Pauliteiras: Young Girls as Newcomers in a Traditional Dance from the Northeast of Portugal. In Mediterranean Art and Education: Navigating Local, Regional and Global Imaginaries through the Lens of Arts and Learning. John Baldacchino & Raphael Vella (Eds.), 43-58. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers & Mediterranean Journal of Educational Studies. Silva, S.M. (2014). Growing up in a Portuguese Borderland. In Children and Borders Spyros Spyrou & Miranda Christou, 62-77. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
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