14 SES 02 A, Aspects of Place-based Education II
Parallel Paper Session
Although (or perhaps because) the conference topic refers to education for all, many developed countries face a problem of unequal access to education of some groups of population, the spatial inequalities including. The distribution of basic schools is spatially unequal and is determined by the variety of factors. Those are wide societal (e.g. economical situation, educational policy), regional (e.g. spatial concentration of population, transport pattern) as well as local (e.g. relationship between founder of the school and local authority, parental choice). Nevertheless, the basic education, like any service, is particularly determined by demand – i.e. by number of pupils. The presence of any school in the locality depends on this number. On the one hand the developmental problems of localities and disadvantages for their inhabitants result from low demand and consequent school closure and consolidation (Kearns et al. 2009; Kvalsund 2009; Nitta et al. 2010). On the other hand they may also result from insufficient capacity of schools and consequent selection of pupils according to various criteria (Bradford 1991; Dyson 2008). In the first case there is unequal access to education for those pupils who have to commute far distances to school. The discrimination in second case is for the pupils who were denied the access to education in the locality, especially by virtue of inconvenient status of their parents (Warrington 2005). Although these two types of unequalities are in their principle different, they are both the outcome of general and long-term developments in spatial distribution of population (Hampl 2000). Their intensity and significance change in connection to demographic trends. In practice, the educational policy often calculates with future number of pupils, however only their total number in the whole region is observed and the importance of the spatial distribution of pupils in connection with spatial pattern of schools and their capacities is often omitted.
Thus the aim of our paper is to illustrate main trends and driving forces that have influenced the development of spatial distribution of basic schools on the example of Central Bohemia – the region in Czechia (the state in Central Europe). Although the paper deals with a specific region, the conclusions could be transferable to the situation in other developed countries. Our model region includes hinterland of the capital Prague, but also economically weak, remote parts that may be characterized as “inner peripheries” (Jančák et al. 2008). The paper presents specific problems in basic education provision, characteristic for particular types of territories, from centre to periphery. The threats of low as well as of high numbers of potential pupils for schools and for local communities are discussed. The paper demonstrates the possibility of using the population forecasts to anticipate the future structure of pupils according to the grades of basic school. Finally, we would like to answer the research question: what type of schools is in danger of future development problems? What are the characteristics of such schools and what is their position in educational and settlement system?
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