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ATELIER 4. RÉFORMER L’ÉCOLE POUR UN ACCÈS PLUS ÉQUITABLE À L’ÉDUCATION

Fighting school segregation for inclusive education in Catalonia: The role of local governments

Xavier Bonal
Traduction(s) :
Lutter contre la ségrégation scolaire pour une éducation inclusive en Catalogne : le rôle des collectivités locales

Résumés

Ces dernières années, la ségrégation scolaire des élèves migrants, nouvellement arrivés en Catalogne, s’est stabilisée à un niveau élevé. En réponse à cet énorme défi, la politique éducative a emprunté des voies multiples, pas toujours cohérentes. Les gouvernements catalans qui se sont succédé ont mis en place des stratégies en vue de faciliter l’intégration des élèves migrants dans le système éducatif. Tandis que les programmes les plus significatifs ont mis l’accent sur l’intégration par l’apprentissage de la langue et sur les dispositifs de soutien visant à soutenir les besoins d’apprentissage des élèves défavorisés d’origine immigrée, les politiques de lutte contre la ségrégation scolaire à l’échelon national ont été pour le moins timorées. C’est auprès des collectivités locales qu’il faut chercher les meilleures pratiques et réformes éducatives visant à réduire la ségrégation scolaire. Dans cet exposé, nous présenterons les principales conditions qui ont facilité la réussite de politiques éducatives locales de lutte contre la ségrégation scolaire. Au travers de quelques exemples, cet article propose une réflexion sur les conditions structurelles qui ont favorisé l’émergence de bonnes pratiques ainsi que sur le rôle stratégique de certains acteurs pour faciliter des réformes importantes dans ce domaine.

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Texte intégral

1In recent years, school segregation of migrant students in Catalonia has remained at high levels. Upper fractions of the class structure and minority groups have rarely mixed in the same schools. Increasingly, many schools in Catalonia have been experiencing a process of “ghettoization” and differentiation in the cultural and social diversity of the students they enrol.

2The social dynamics that have led to the consolidation of school segregation are diverse, and are not always the same in each local context. The still few studies on school segregation that have been carried out in Catalonia identify, nevertheless, some general factors that point to the main causes of this phenomenon (Benito & González, 2007; Síndic de Greuges, 2016). The first and most significant is undoubtedly the effect of the growing arrival of students of immigrant origin over the last decade. The percentage of foreign students in the Catalan education system rose from 2% to 15% in a decade. The arrival of immigrant students generated segregation processes for several reasons: their residential concentration, the cultural emulation in school choice, and the “white flight” of middle-class families from neighbourhoods and schools with a high proportion of migrants (Bonal, 2012).

3Education policy has responded to this enormous challenge in different and not always coherent ways. Successive Catalan governments implemented strategies to facilitate the integration of migrant students in the education system. The most salient programmes focused on linguistic integration and support devices intended to compensate for the learning needs of disadvantaged students of migrant origin. A Plan for Language and Social Cohesion was launched in 2004 to provide special support to those schools with higher levels of migrant students. More than one thousand “welcome classrooms” were created in schools. Migrant students shared the school time between the welcome classroom and the ordinary classroom in order to satisfy both their learning needs and their social integration (Alegre et al., 2008).

4While the Catalan government has been active in targeting the needs of migrant students, it has been extremely timorous in developing an education policy to tackle school segregation. It has explicitly disregarded the possibilities of improving the regulatory framework for reducing school segregation, it has exercised insufficient control over the effective application of education regulations on the distribution of pupils with specific educational needs (SEN), or it has taken education policy decisions that have even accentuated school segregation.

5The best educational reforms and best practices to reduce school segregation have been found in some local governments. Local governments do not have any formal decision-making capacity regarding aspects such as school admission policies, human and material resource allocation, the definition of catchment areas or the regulation of the minimum number of students with specific needs whom schools must enrol. This lack of formal involvement contrasts with an everyday reality in which local governments actively participate in the management of local education policies and the administration of local education markets. Thus, although they have no formal responsibility, local governments take part as real decision-makers and have significant room for manoeuvre when it comes to intervening in those decisions affecting school segregation processes. For example, despite the fact that the definition of catchment areas is a regional responsibility, it is usually local governments that define the boundaries of school zones, which are then later approved by regional governments. The same thing can also be true of some local agreements referring to the distribution of students with specific needs: while regional governments regulate the minimum number of students with special needs who should be enrolled in schools, in some municipalities local education authorities try to establish internal agreements between schools to increase this minimum threshold if there is a higher number of students with special needs in the area. Usually, regional governments respect most of the initiatives driven by local education authorities, as long as they do not become a source of political conflict.

6This type of educational politics makes local governments strategic actors in educational planning processes and in the organization of schooling in local education markets. Municipalities seek space in which to situate new schools, propose changes in school ratios, may assume responsibility for a significant proportion of school transport, identify and distribute students eligible for free meals, define catchment areas, are responsible for controlling potential residence fraud (a regular practice in some families to gain access to their desired school), or participate actively in the decision-making process when considering the distribution of latecomers among the schools of the municipality.

7The key role assumed by local governments in the schooling process leads to remarkable municipal differences in the intensity and characteristics of school segregation processes (Síndic de Greuges, 2016; Bonal & Zancajo, 2018). In general, the intensity of school segregation among municipalities seems to be independent of the proportion of migrants and the level of residential segregation. Moreover, despite the strong dualization of the Spanish education system, school segregation within sectors is higher than it is between sectors, and school segregation within districts is higher than it is between districts. These processes make school segregation a phenomenon that is intensely moulded by the local context and by local education policies.

8In this presentation we will explore which are the main conditions that have facilitated the development of successful local education policies to tackle school segregation. By exploring some examples, the paper will reflect on the structural conditions that have favoured best practices as well as on the strategic role of agents who have facilitated significant reforms in this area.

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Bibliographie

ALEGRE M.A., BENITO R. and GONZÁLEZ S. (2008): De l’aula d’acollida a l’aula ordinària, IGOP-UAB.

BENITO R. and GONZÀLEZ I. (2007): Processos de segregació escolar a Catalunya, Barcelona, Editorial Mediterrània.

BONAL X. (2012): “Education Policy and School Segregation in Catalonia: The Politics of Non-Decision Making”, Journal of Education Policy, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 401–21.

BONAL X. and ZANCAJO A. (2018): “School Segregation in the Spanish Quasi-Market Education System: Local Dynamics and Policy Absences”, in BONAL X. and BELLEI C. (eds.), Understanding school segregation: Patterns, causes and consequences of spatial inequalities in education, London, Bloomsbury.

SÍNDIC DE GREUGES (2016): La segregació escolar a Catalunya (I): La gestió del procés d’admissió d’alumnat, Barcelona, Síndic de Greuges de Catalunya.

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Référence électronique

Xavier Bonal, « Fighting school segregation for inclusive education in Catalonia: The role of local governments », Revue internationale d’éducation de Sèvres [En ligne], Colloque 2019 : Conditions de réussite des réformes en éducation, mis en ligne le 11 juin 2019, consulté le 18 juillet 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/ries/7598

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Auteur

Xavier Bonal

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, GEPS-UAB
Xavier Bonal is Professor of Sociology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and Special Professor of Education and International Development at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). He is the director of the research group Globalisation, Education and Social Policies (GEPS) at the UAB and Coordinator of the GLOBED Project, an Erasmus Mundus master’s on Education Policies for Global Development. He has been a member of the EU Network of Experts in Social Sciences and Education (NESSE) and is a member of the editorial board of several international journals of education policy and educational development. Professor Bonal has widely published in national and international journals and is the author of several books on sociology of education, education policy and globalization, education and development. He has worked as a consultant for international organizations such as UNESCO, UNICEF, the European Commission, and the Council of Europe. Between 2006 and 2010, he was Deputy Ombudsman for Children’s Rights at the Office of the Catalan Ombudsman.
xavier.bonal@uab.cat

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