16 Educational participation & space - On the location dependency of school selection in Switzerland

Niedermann Stefan

  1. Pädagogische Hochschule Graubünden, Chur, Switzerland

Spatial disparities in educational participation have repeatedly been reported for different countries and regions throughout history (Bertram & Dannenbeck, 1990; Ditton, 2014; Geipel, 1965; Weishaupt, 2002). Even simple comparisons of school allocation rates at the sub-national level reveal considerable and stable disparities (Kronig, 2007). There is a suspicion that the extent of these quota differences cannot be attributed to differences in performance between the learners (violation of the meritocratic principle). The focus is mainly on the effects of federal education (Switzerland, Germany). In addition, there is concrete evidence of small-scale and thus locally differing assignment practices with corresponding effects on spatial participation in education (Haeberlin, Imdorf & Kronig, 2004; Sieber, 2006). The physical space itself is merely the manifested visual structure of the logistical differentiation of the school offer and thus also the local result of social negotiation processes such as school locations (Löw, 2001). Precisely because education in today's globalized and highly specialized society cannot only be thought of in small spaces, it is important to understand the regional disparities in educational participation in order not to pursue hasty education and justice policies with unintended consequences. The present dissertation describes the formal educational outcome of Switzerland (secondary and high school level) over several decades with an overall view of the selection decisions. Based on the official educational statistics, the sub-national analysis levels are supplemented and related to each other with exemplary, small-scale considerations at the school level. In addition to the massive differences in quotas that persist at the cantonal level, there are also considerable and location-dependent disparities down to the level of the individual school within the cantons. At the same time, depending on the analysis level, territorial units and participation indicators, regional differences in location-related allocation results become visible. The local school also appears to constitute different educational options within local educational practices with local assignment practices. In a proposed framework model, selected factors are also examined with regard to their explanatory content regarding the spatial disparities in educational participation.


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