According to UNICEF, 12.1% of children in the UK are living in poverty, while the figure for Japan is 14.9% (Innocenti Report Card 10, May 2012). Since this report was produced, the economic situation has, if anything, deteriorated in both countries. Inequality and social exclusion have become concerns again, and in a time of austerity for both the government and parents, the role of education needs reconsidering. Can education contribute to better social mobility? Are working-class groups still under-represented in higher education, and if so, why? Although higher education has become more inclusive in both countries in recent decades, if investing in education does not necessarily guarantee a job, then what is the incentive for young people to aspire to go to university? Professor Robert Cassen of LSE looked at social exclusion and education, and at government policies aimed at making life chances more equal, in pre-school, primary and secondary education. Issues of gender and ethnicity were also explored. Professor Takehiko Kariya of Oxford University analysed a new educational selection mechanism that has contributed to rising disparity in learning motivations after Japan’s education reforms in the 1990s, and offered important insights for understanding similar problems in other countries.
Presentation by Professor Cassen
About the contributors
Professor Robert Cassen
Robert Cassen is Visiting Professor at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, London School of Economics. He held his first post at LSE in 1961, and subsequently was a Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies in Sussex, and Director of Queen Elizabeth House and Professor of Development Economics at Oxford. He also served on the staff of the UK Department for International Development, the British High Commission in New Delhi, the World Bank, and the Brandt Commission. His books include Does Aid Work? (with associates, Oxford University Press, 1994); with Tim Dyson and Leela Visaria, 21st Century, India: Population, Economy, Human Development and the Environment (Oxford University Press, 2004); and with Geeta Kingdon, Tackling Low Educational Achievement: a Report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2007. In 2008 he received an OBE for services to education. He is currently working on a new book, with Anna Vignoles and Sandra McNally: Making a Difference: What Works in Education and What Doesn’t, to be published by Routledge in 2014.
Professor Takehiko Kariya
Takehiko Kariya is a Professor in the Sociology of Japanese Society, at the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies and the Department of Sociology, University of Oxford and he is a Faculty Fellow of St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. His research interests include the sociology of education, social stratification, school- to-work transition, educational and social policies, and social changes in postwar Japan. Before he joined Oxford University, he had taught sociology of education at the Graduate School of Education, University of Tokyo for 18 years. He is co-editor of Challenges to Japanese Education: Economics, Reforms, and Human Rights (Teachers College Press, 2010), the author of Education Reform and Social Class in Japan (Routledge, 2012) and Japanese Education and Society in Transition: A Sociology of Education Reforms, Opportunities and Mass Education during the Lost Decades (Routledge, forthcoming), and he has published more than 20 books in Japanese.