MONTEVIDEO – Young Uruguayans since 2010 have done better at getting a university education than their parents did, according to a study by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) presented Monday in Montevideo.
The study entitled “Inequality and Intergenerational Mobility in University Education,” is the work of independent researchers Helena Rovner, Fedora Carbajal and Caterina Colombo.
The three experts focused on finding out whether the children of parents with lower educational levels have access to higher education and what has been the evolution of those at the public University of the Republic (Udelar) from 1999-2014.
In that sense, they concluded that Uruguay has been gradually improving its upward educational mobility since 2010, after more than 10 years of relative stagnation.
Since that year, however, more and more students from homes with low educational levels are getting into university and are making good progress with their studies.
Rovner said “the correlation between how young people are affected by their home environment and what they can achieve in the educational system is also affected by public policy.”
She said it was previously thought that problems outside the educational system, like poverty in the home, were not the problem of education.
However, in recent years “a great deal of literature has been developed about what the educational system can actually do to level the playing field for these young people, and while it can’t pull them out of poverty, it can support them in ways that are sometimes not strictly academic to get them to the doors of the university.
The researcher said this is where public policies must operate to allow all youths “to arrive equally to the moment of access to higher education,” since the data also show that once the students get into university, their rate of progress is “considerable.”
The study says the problems students bring to university spring largely from their high school experiences.
“Secondary education continues to be a fairly important drama in Uruguay, because the young people graduate to a possible university entrance at very different levels, not only in socioeconomic terms but also in terms of accomplishment,” the expert said.
The study ends putting the focus on university education in Montevideo and specifically on public education, in other words, Udelar.
In that regard, Rovner said there are two important factors that public policy must deal with: improving the quality of education and the educational level of women, because that has a real effect on the educational careers of their children later on.