Twenty-five years of inequality-reduction policies in school achievement in New Caledonia

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Journal Article
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Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies
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Gorohouna, Samuel
Ris, Catherine

New Caledonia, the largest French Territory in the South Pacific, enjoys a high standard of living but is marked by huge social inequalities as a result of geographic and ethnic origin. In New Caledonia, as in the rest of the world, we are witnessing an extension of the duration of studies. It is important to ascertain that this ―massification of schooling‖ comes hand-in-hand with a reduced correlation between gender and ethnic origin on the one hand and education destiny on the other; in other words, that schooling is being ―qualitatively democratised‖. This study highlights the differences in school achievement between Kanak (indigenous people) and non-Kanak, female and male, as well as a combination of those groups. Using data from the four most recent censuses (1989, 1996, 2009 and 2014), we show that dramatic progress has been made in the area of school achievement; this improvement is particularly marked within the Kanak population. However, at all census dates, there have been fewer Kanak than non-Kanak diploma holders. When using odds ratios, we observe a strong decrease of inequalities in access to education since 1989. However, this decrease has slowed down since 2009, and there is stagnation for the 20- to 30-year-old age group. The general assessment of inequality reduction should therefore be nuanced when focusing in detail on the types of diplomas obtained (in particular the range of higher education diplomas) and on the level thereof (the higher the education level, the greater the inequality).

Social and ethnic inequality, school achievement, closing the gap policy, New Caledonia
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CC BY 4.0