International Seminar on

"Educational Strategies, Families, and Population Dynamics"

Seminar held in Ouagadougou, November 15-19 1999

Seminar coordination:
M. Cosio (Université Paris X, CICRED), A. Quesnel (IRD, CICRED)
M. Pilon (IRD, UERD), Y. Yaro (UERD)

Committee for International Cooperation National Research in Demography (CICRED)
Unité d'Enseignement et de Recherche en Démographie (UERD) University of Ouagadougou United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

The seminar on "Educational Strategies, Families, and Population Dynamics," organized by CICRED and UERD, took place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso from November 15-19, 1999. It dealt with an area at the interface of questions pertaining to education and population, bringing together not only specialists on demographic issues, but also economists, anthropologists, geographers, and specialists in the field of education.

The choice of papers for presentation at the seminar was based on responses to a questionnaire sent to all the member centers of CICRED, and dealing with their research - past, present, and future - corresponding to CICRED's call for proposals focused on the themes to be discussed. The responses were not very numerous (about 60), and they provided institutional and thematic information on the projects of member centers of CICRED on this subject. The works selected to be presented at the seminar constitute a representative sample of the principal lines of research mentioned by the centers themselves. It should be emphasized that the papers were characterized by substantial variety with respect to themes and regions of the world, and there was considerable disciplinary diversity as well as a certain complementarity of approaches. Demographers are very conscious of the importance of the variable, education, for demographic phenomena, but for the most part they are not aware of analyses by specialists in the field of education. The seminar permitted a good number of scholars to become familiar with work in different disciplines, it promoted examination of alternative approaches, and proposed multidisciplinary collaboration aimed at mutual enrichment.

The seminar was carried out in collaboration with the Union for African Population Studies (UAPS) Research Network on family determinants of schooling, which consists of eight Francophone African countries and is coordinated by M. PILON and Y. YARO, co-organizer of the seminar. Colleagues working in Africa on families, schooling, and population dynamics are pioneers in this area, as much from a methodological point of view as in the definition of concepts and theoretical advances. Their work shows that the African family is very diverse and at the same time quite complex, and that important changes and adaptations to the economic and social context are taking place, as well as reactions to economic crises and to the reduced role of the state in education. Families today are adapting the schooling strategies of their children differently as the school system itself changes.

The first session on "Institutional aspects, educational systems, and demographic changes" amply demonstrated the essential nature of the economic dimension, both with respect to supply of and demand for schooling, and at both the macroeconomic level and the individual and family levels. In her paper on "Educational policies between the global and the local," A. VINOKUR, using the example of Russia, argued that market liberalization and the concentration of capital accentuate differentiation and territorial competition of knowledge, training, and education. The paper by N. NELSON on "Demographic effects of regional differentials in educational policies in Nigeria" shows how, in a context governed by a structural adjustment policy, Nigeria has seen accentuation of rural-urban and regional inequalities. Similarly, the paper by A. GOUJON shows to a degree that different demographic behaviors in Arab countries are linked to differences in educational investments.

This development of inequalities raises questions about educational investments, opposing on the one hand formal education offered on a long-term basis by public authorities, and which should be oriented to the entire population without discrimination according to social status or geographic location, and on the other hand specialized education, organized and directed by firms, which is oriented to the population mobilized where the firms are located for short- or medium-term productive objectives. This question of the relationships between territorialization, forms, and objectives of education was present in the first two sessions and indeed throughout the entire seminar up to the final presentation by Professor KI ZERBO, who raised the question of whether a true civic education was possible given the nonlocalized organization of knowledge based on strictly economic objectives of firms. A. VINOKUR emphasized that education policies subject to economic constraints are dominated by "management" of education, with economic ends and health and demographic aims playing a major role. Formal and decentralized schooling may inhibit the mobility of workers, while its objectives include human capital development, producing skilled workers for the labor market, citizens for political unity, for the development of the idea of a nation (as in Nigeria), or for religious faith. Moreover, in certain cases, schooling of girls (and of boys) may be dictated by the objectives of fertility reduction and improvement of the health of the population overall and of mothers and children in particular.

The second part of the first session was more specifically focused on the impact of public policies in education in relation to inequalities among families. The paper by R. MENDOCA on "Education and equitable economic development," presented by D. SHAPIRO, shows the economic effectiveness of education - if measured at the national level - from the point of view of the productivity of labor, its impact on demographic growth, etc. This is evident once one focuses on the economic situation of families and the acquired level of education. The paper emphasizes that geographic and social diffusion of education in Brazil is slow, especially because of the trade-off between schooling and work of children. The opportunity cost of schooling is very high for the poorest families and for those living in the least economically developed regions. Also, in showing that the level of education of the parents is the principal determinant of the education of the children, R. MENDOCA provides support for an education policy in favor of compensating poor families for the deficient education of the parents so as to encourage them to send their children to school (this is taking place in Mexico via the social program Progresa, which provides direct assistance to mothers of school-age children in the rural areas of the eight poorest states in the country).

The paper by S. PAVENDI on "The evolution of school inequalities in Iran" also shows that growth in the general level of education at the national level is accompanied by a growth in disparities among families. Worth retaining here is the idea of the school as a place of socialization for girls (this will be emphasized more heavily in the fourth session), and especially for Iran, as a protected place.

The second session on "Educational itineraries, individual paths, methodological aspects" made it clear that despite the dominant perspective of the five papers in the session - individual itineraries - it is not individual variables but rather family variables that play a crucial role in determining the educational itineraries of children. The paper by F. HERAN, "Studying the educational system from families: the experience of INSEE," shows that in France the education of parents is essential to the success and continuation of children in school. In Argentina, according to J. GOVEA BASCH in "The contribution of national statistical systems to the study of links between education strategies, families and population dynamics," and in Venezuela, according to J.M. ROCHE REYNA in "The educational conditions in the agricultural areas of Venezuela," schooling takes place within the context of social reproduction of inequality. Similarly, according to M. GAUDREAULT and M. PERRON, authors of "School strategies, family life, and the desire to take root: Factors associated with outmigration of youth from SLSJ (Quebec)," it is clear that characteristics of parents, such as the schooling of the father and the employment status of the mother, are very important variables influencing migration plans of young students. Finally, in Tunisia, according to B. GASTINEAU in "Factors contributing to being out of school for rural Tunisian children," the low school enrollment of girls can be explained in part by the marriage strategies of the families of the future spouses.

The third session, "Economic aspects of education," nicely complemented the first two. In particular, it dealt with the central question of the growing tendency for parents to take greater responsibility for the schooling of their children. This growing responsibility in the context of economic crisis and disengagement of states is analyzed in the papers of J.L. POUNINGUINZA in "Educational system in a context of socioeconomic crisis in the CAR: What strategies are adopted by families? The case of Bangui" and of A. BOMMIER and F. ARESTOFF in "Relative efficiency of private and public schools in Madagascar." BOMMIER shows that in this context, inequalities in schooling are quite evident and often accentuated, whether they are between regions, between families, or within families. In the case of Madagascar, in urban areas where the supply of education is important, families often opt for private schools if they can, and their children's school outcomes are better than those of children who stay in the public system. By contrast, in rural areas, where the supply of education is less developed, attendance at school and educational outcomes are much more differentiated among families. Unfortunately, it was not possible to carry out an evaluation of differential outcomes within families. J.L POUNINGUINZA and A. BOMMIER (as well as MENDOCA) emphasize the importance of focusing on schooling of children from the most disadvantaged families if one wishes to promote rapid diffusion and higher levels of education.

The paper by J.F. KOBIANE, "Poverty, family structure, and educational strategies in Ouagadougou," demonstrates that in the poorest families, inequalities in schooling among individuals are linked to responsibilities for household chores that fall more heavily on girls than on boys. From the discussion, the point emerged that one must be careful not to draw a hasty conclusion, and the full set of work responsibilities, household and market, that fall on different individuals in the household must be taken into consideration. This issue is evident in R. MARCOUX's paper, "Between school and work: School attendance and child labor in Quebec in 1901."

This question goes beyond that of the status of children within the family as regards their schooling, and the educational strategies of these families. Both the substantive and methodological discussions that took place in the other sessions demonstrate that this was one of the key points and important propositions of the seminar regarding demographic research. It is necessary to study family dynamics to understand both the school participation of children and the demographic consequences which result from the consequent educational attainment.

Unfortunately, the relation family-education-mobility was dealt with only by the papers of A. YUNEZ ("Returns from schooling in farm households with reference to Mexico") and W. KANDEL ("The impact of U.S. migration on Mexican children's educational attainment"). (The paper of M.GAUDREAULT and M. PERRON had a different perspective.) KANDEL's approach is interesting because there are few studies which address the impact of mobility on the schooling of children. In his approach, the status of the migrants within the family is important: according to whether the migrant is head of the household or not, there will be different consequences regarding either dropping out of school by children or, on the contrary, better retention in school. It is also very interesting to note that the paper of YUNEZ echoes KANDEL in emphasizing the necessity to take into consideration the schooling of all members of the family, not simply that of the household head, if one seeks to understand the impact of this schooling on the choice of activities, allocation of resources, and incomes. It is worth mentioning in passing that there is a dilemma in rural areas: greater education of individuals leads to higher incomes, but also to an intensification of geographic mobility. Finally, it is surprising to note that in the course of the seminar, there was no mention of the idea that migration strategies of parents (and of children) may be linked to their educational strategies.

While this session focused on economic conditions of education, R. MARCOUX's paper emphasized nonetheless that religious and ethnic affiliations are important elements differentiating families with respect to their taking responsibility for schooling of children.

The fourth session was focused on "Demographic and family consequences of schooling." R.M. CAMARENA, in her paper on "Family and education in Mexico," shows the influence of status in the household and family ties among members of the household in explaining the schooling of girls. R.S. GOYAL, in "Impact of schooling of adolescent girls in demographic transition: An illustration from India," emphasizes the very low priority of schooling of girls in family strategies. Assistance to parents, absence of fees for attending school, development of infrastructure and efforts oriented specifically toward schooling of girls will all be required in India. The effects of schooling of girls are readily observable for a number of factors: fertility, contraception, age at marriage, infant mortality, and reduction of inequalities between boys and girls. Education of the parents remains a fundamentally important variable. D. LOUDIYI presented and discussed an initiative on "Teenage pregnancy and girl's education" that is sponsored by the World Bank. The initiative seeks to promote applied research work aimed at encouraging different countries to define priorities in the areas of reproductive health, education of girls, and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. In Egypt, according to F.A. AHMED in "Gender inequalities within family and education," women have strong aspirations for schooling, and education of women has results similar to those observed in India by R.S. GOYAL.

In addition to strictly school-based academic programs, C. VAN PEER's paper on "Knowledge and attitudes on population in some European countries: Results from the EOPEI surveys"provides an analysis of the EOPEI surveys in Belgium on population education. It is apparent that information on the themes of "population" and "education" circulates within multiple networks. Population education programs were instituted, and were found to have an impact. Finally, completely outside of schools, community health centers are also found to be places of socialization and education in a broad sense, and there are important implications for women's demographic behavior. This issue is directly considered in the paper by A. KAPLAN, "Learning about motherhood and reproductive health as a global adult education strategy: The case of rural African migrant women in Spain." It would be useful in the future to pay more attention to these collective social places, other than the family.

The fifth session, "Family choices in education and gender, perceptions and expectations," included a series of papers presenting work undertaken by the UAPS Network on family determinants of schooling in different African countries. The analyses were principally concerned with the influence of family dynamics on access to school of girls and boys, with some differences in the approaches. However (reflecting the emphasis of the Network), they were deliberately oriented toward considering the demand side of education. Several approaches were used, such as the gender emphasis in the paper "Gender and schooling in Burkina Faso" by I. KABORE, M. PILON, and T. LAIREZ, and the emphasis on nationalities, illustrated by B. ZANOU in "Educational strategies among immigrants in Cote d'Ivoire." Several inequalities in school enrollment rates are evident in Cote d'Ivoire, including higher enrollment rates for Ivoiriens than for foreigners, more daughters of craftsmen educated than sons, and lower school enrollment for fostered children. There is a general sentiment in Cote d'Ivoire that educating girls does not result in economic advantages. J. WAKAM, in "Demographic structure of households and children's schooling in Cameroon," pursues this analysis, linking the number of very young children to the age, sex, and enrollment of school-age children. The demographic structure of households helps explain the schooling of girls, via household work, while the economic structure of households helps explain the schooling of boys, via possibilities for young boys to earn income. Other variables impinge on these mechanisms, like family solidarity, the status of children, and child fostering. In the choice between quality (schooling) and quantity of children, Africa is opposite Latin America. In the latter, there is a clear negative relationship, while in the former there is either no relationship or even a positive one.

The paper by R. MARCOUX et al., "Comprehending family dynamics to understand children's schooling: Elements of a methodology tested in Mali," used the biographic survey method. There is no doubt that this methodological innovation, which has not yet been utilized very much in Africa, yields very rich information, permitting one to illuminate the relationships between the behavior of households and economic, social, and demographic variables. The paper emphasizes in particular the importance of the status of the child in the family, and of both household work and market work, as well as the double division of work and of family characteristics in terms of gender, of value of schooling and of educational paths. Qualitative surveys were used to complement the biographic questionnaires.

The same issues are also treated in the paper by D. SHAPIRO, "Family influences on women's educational attainment in Kinshasa." He emphasizes that the nature and intensity of the demand for schooling will be influenced by the education of the mother but also by the education of the father, especially regarding the schooling of girls. This is a particularly interesting aspect of gender relations. Moreover, the number of brothers and sisters is an important factor. When the family is large, family solidarity results in greater schooling of girls. This point is also made in the paper by SEKIMONYO wa MANGANGO, "Educational strategies, families, and population dynamics in the Democratic Republic of Congo." He finds that the own children of the mother are better protected than those of the father. The relationship between schooling and household size is influenced by the household's socioeconomic level: in the poorest neighborhoods, there are large differences in schooling by sex of the child, often in favor of girls, for whom household chores can be looked after by others in very large households.

In the second part of the fifth session, the four papers considered the determinants of school attendance and educational paths from three different perspectives: first, from the point of view of demand (JOSHI and MGHARI), then, from the perspective of policy regarding supply (S.L. PONG), and finally from the interactions between supply and demand (MANGEZ). H. JOSHI, in her paper "Diverse family living situations and child development: Multilevel analysis comparing longitudinal evidence from Britain and the USA," uses innovative methodology (multilevel analyses) in conjunction with longitudinal data. She shows, with considerable detail, the changes in school behavior and outcomes of children in the presence of changes in family living situations. The data base used is extraordinarily rich. The paper by M. MGHARI on "Schooling of children in relation to parents' perceptions of their costs and benefits" focuses on Morocco, and examines school attendance vis-à-vis parents' ideas and expectations of the costs and returns to schooling. The high cost of schooling to rural families is important, resulting in numerous dropouts. S.L. PONG, in "Ethnicity and schooling in Malaysia: The role of policy," shows that family size is inversely related to school attendance in Malaysia. The greater the family size, the lower the educational attainment of children. However, public policies giving preferences based on ethnicity, in favor of Malays, help them when they have more children, to the detriment of non-Malays (Chinese and Indians). At the same time, the increased education of children over time (i.e., across successive cohorts) is associated with a diminution in gender differences in schooling. This is apparent not only in Malaysia, but also in Iran and Kinshasa.

Finally, E. MANGEZ analyzes the interaction between school and families in his paper on "Family strategies regarding school orientation" in Belgium. The dominant position of schools in relation to the family leads to a delegation of schooling to the state on the part of families, which may quite rightly see themselves as dispossessed of their traditional role of educating their children. However, this does not eliminate inequalities in access to the educational system, which has in place certain subtle discriminatory mechanisms. For example, the orientation process brings about a sorting of students during their schooling, whereas the different school options benefit from the same representation in the different socioeconomic levels. Difficulties in obtaining employment have led to prolongation of studies, but family strategies are called into question by the educational system, despite their resistance and the use of varied mechanisms that typically entail changes in options (e.g., reorientation toward more high-powered options). Reference to self-actualization and reduced partitioning among options is ambiguous; is this simply putting the school system to work for economic production? Ideological debate becomes pertinent at this level, and the question of territorial competition of knowledge raised by A. VINOKUR in the first session is again apparent. What do families and individuals expect from all this?

The work of the seminar concluded with the sixth session, "Synthesis and perspectives." First, J. COHEN discussed "Universal basic and secondary education." Relying on United Nations population projections from 1998, he first addresses the question of how many humans the earth can support - a question that can't be definitively answered. He proposes as an objective to educate all children ages 6 to 16 worldwide, but then raises a number of relevant question: What is the meaning of education? Who will finance such a massive undertaking? In the absence of adequate financial means on the part of governments, will unconventional schooling methods be required?

M. PILON and Y. YARO presented the conclusions of the work of "The UAPS Network on the family determinants of schooling," which has as its objective to promote scientific research on the demand for education. A book constituting a methodological guide for such analyses, edited by the French Center on Population and Development (CEPED), has just been published.

Finally, Professor Joseph KI ZERBO gave a talk on "The Stakes of contemporary education." He emphasized that education in Africa must be an African education; that one must become educated or "perish." Education is necessary in order to become developed, liberated, and socialized, to put these in a hierarchy. Education must be endogenous, but it is necessary for the humans that it transforms. That is, it constitutes an initiating itinerary, and women have a vital role in education. Education is required to unlock the future, and contributes to a common sociocultural identity. The language problem is not well understood, because one does not take away from one language what is given to others. The connection to the rest of the world is made thanks to the French language, but one should not be deprived of one's maternal language. Means of communication between mother tongues and French need to be created whereby the substance of the mother tongue is not lost. In Africa, it is possible to recreate schools for multiple countries, by using, for example, common methods of teaching writing.

The adaptation of education to the market may be a correct idea, but perhaps too rigid. Who are we? Where are we going? Education permits a connection to the collective ego. But to get there, a genuine political will is required in numerous areas, including decentralization of educational tasks, training of teachers, massive production of pedagogical aids, support for research, struggle against school inequality, and training of girls - women of the future. As the proverb says, "child is father to the man, woman is the future of man." Africa needs widespread support, including from the African diaspora and international organizations. They must take account of the situation in Africa and be flexible in approaches, methods, and contributions.

The closing of the seminar took place with M.E. COSIO-ZAVALA's "Synthesis and conclusions. New perspectives," which provided an overview of the work of the seminar. Is it the end of schools? Or at least those of the 20th century? This does not appear to be the case, because schooling is still developing everywhere, both on the supply side as well as on the side of demand by families, and inequalities are tending to be reduced, especially those by gender. However, there are still important yet elementary needs that remain to be met, real urgencies. Schools change because societies change also, but the place of schooling remains central, at the heart of all these changes.

Proceedings of the seminar

Edited by M. Cosio, R. Marcoux, M. Pilon et A. Quesnel

Edited on behalf of CICRED: E. Vilquin

Out of 33 papers presented at this seminar, 19 have been selected for publication on the web site. The full texts of these latest as well as the 33 summaries are available below in their original language. Twelve papers are the object of a book edited by CICRED: its contents, preface, introduction and conclusion are also available below.
These documents are available in PDF format (*.pdf). You can read them by using "Adobe Acrobat Reader". If you have not this one, click here to download it freely.

First session. Institutional aspects, educational systems and demographic changes:

Second session. Educational itineraries, individual paths, methodological aspects:

Third session. Economic aspects of education:

Fourth session. Demographic and family consequences of schooling:

Fifth session. Family choices in education and gender, perceptions and expectations:

Closing presentation

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