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Inter-regional educational discrepancies in Belgium. How to combat them? Third Re-Bel public event Thursday 3 June 2010, 2-6pm V. Vandenberghe University.

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Presentation on theme: "Inter-regional educational discrepancies in Belgium. How to combat them? Third Re-Bel public event Thursday 3 June 2010, 2-6pm V. Vandenberghe University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Inter-regional educational discrepancies in Belgium. How to combat them? Third Re-Bel public event Thursday 3 June 2010, 2-6pm V. Vandenberghe University Foundation-Brussels Université Catholique de Louvain

2 Outline of presentation Foreword: Why educational discrepancies matter? Section 1: Statistical evidence (the long-term view) Section 2: Determinants Section 3: The plausible role of school governance Main thesis The gap between the Belgian regions started to materialised probably as early as in the late 1950s. Closing the gap is likely to take time. And better (or at least more coherent) school governance in the French-Speaking Community could help

3 Foreword Good-quality education is crucial for individuals but also for nations and communities. Particularly those (like Belgium) with: Uniform/centralised wage-stetting mechanisms Strong aversion to income inequality Generous welfare transfers Combating educational discrepancies across entities is crucial to long-term political stability

4 Section 1 Statistical evidence (the long-term view)

5 Average number of years of education. Adults aged Source : Belgian census 1961,1991, 2001

6 Relative scores in math :Belgian Communities vs other EU and OECD countries (1= one standard-deviation) Source: IAE, OCDE FIMS: First International Mathematics Study SIMS: Second International Mathematics Study TIMSS: Third International Mathematics and Sciences Study PISA: Programme for International Student Assessment

7 In short.... whereas the (relative) performance of the French- Speaking Community has steadily deteriorated since the mid-1960s, that of the Flemish-Speaking Community has regularly improved.

8 Section 2 Determinants

9 The social context in which schools operate: Brussels, Liège and the Hainaut? Lack of labour-market/financial incentives to stay on in education and succeed at school? Lack of school resources? Lower school performance conditional on socio- mix and resources?

10 Attainment in Math across schools (conditional on the socio-economic profile of pupils). PISA 2006

11 The gross score gap in math is 9.1% (French- Speaking community=ref). Controlling for : i) socio-economic profile (parental profession & material wealth), ii) immigration background, iii) attendance of a vocational track iv) pupil/teacher ratio… leads to a net gap of 10.8% (~=50 PISA points ~= a one-grade advance)

12 Section 3 The plausible role of school governance

13 Evidence that governance matter? The case of head of school autonomy. Math scores in PISA 2006

14 Public school governance in the textbook Central planning:hierarchical or bureaucratic control OR Incentive contracts: school autonomy and external evaluation OR Quasi-market: per-pupil funding and school choice & school autonomy to respond to market pressure

15 Public School governance in the French-Speaking Community A lot of central planning:hierarchical or bureaucratic control AND Some element of proper incentive contracts: school autonomy and external evaluation AND Quasi-market: per-pupil funding and school choice … in a very unarticulated/chaotic and counterproductive way

16 Sempiternal divergences of view, echoing deeply rooted philosophical and political schisms, have led to a situation where: the top-down/bureaucratic control (the obligation to implement instructions coming from Brussels) systematically cohabits with school-based autonomy and market-driven school management (the necessity to attract pupils to secure resources and non-tenure jobs).

17 Why such an highy hybrid governance regime? = >diverging political and philosophical “preferences” of the three main “réseaux/netwerken” two equally powerful groups (public vs free catholic) each representing about 50% of the total advocates of public provision themselves split (local public provision vs centralised model where public schools are under the sole jurisdiction of the central ministry)

18 The problem with “réseaux/netwerken” is not primairily cost-inefficiency. The true cost of the “réseaux/netwerken” lies in the emergence of a very hybrid and ineffective governance regime

19 Networks also exist in Flanders. But in Flanders, free catholic-affiliated schools are dominant (70%), and benefit from strong political sponsors This has probably contributed to limit the ravages of the hybrid governance disease French-Speaking pupils suffer from.

20 Bibliography Belfield, C. (2000) Economic Principles for Education: Theory and Evidence (Edward Elgar, Cheltenham). de la Croix, D. & Vandenberghe, V. (2004) Human capital as a factor of growth and employment at the regional level. The case of Belgium, Report for the European Commission, DG for Employment and Social Affairs, Brussels. Hanushek, E. (2003), The failure of input-based schooling policies, The Economic Journal, 113(485), Hoxby, C., Aghion, P., Dewatripont, M. & Sapir, A. (2007), Why Reform Europe’s Universities?, Bruegel Policy Brief, Brussels. Vandenberghe, V. (2002a), L’enseignement : état des lieux et utopie, Labor, coll. Quartiers Libres, Bruxelles. Vandenberghe, V. (2002b), Tous cancres ? Analyse économique des performances de l'enseignement initial en Communauté Française, Regards Economiques, No 2, IRES-UCL, Louvain-la-Neuve. Vandenberghe, V. & Robin, S. (2004) Evaluating the effectiveness of private education across countries: a comparison of methods, Labour Economics No 11, pages Evaluating the effectiveness of private education across countries: a comparison of methods Wössmann, L. & Fuchs, T. (2007), "What Accounts for International Differences in Student Performance? A Re-Examination Using PISA Data", Empirical Economics 32 (2-3), 2007,


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