Contest Versus Sponsored Educational
One aspect of the educational institutions of every society is the set of assumptions about who needs education and how much. The proportion of youth going on to college varies tremendously between societies, as shown in Table 12-1, and now ranges from roughly 50 percent of all college-age youth in the United States to about.1 percenr.In the People’s Republic of China [Science News, 120:119, Feb. 21,1981]. One set of assumptions underlying educational needs may be contrasted Under the terms, conies: mobility and sponsored mobility [R. Collins, 1979, pp: 91-92]. . – . The set of ideas termed sponsored mobility . starts with the assumption that most people . .belong in the social class into which they are , born unless they have exceptional abilities. Such unusual ability may be noticed by-someone’-
a rich relative, .a philanthropic person, a school official. a government dignitary who. will open the doors necessary to approve this person for advanced education. Classification into one of two or more tracks begins quite early, after the first several grades are completed. Students are separate<i into those who go on to high school and those , who enter the labor market with no more than some added vocational training. High school and university are reserved for those who are entitled to them on the basis of social position, plus a few who have attracted a sponsor through their unusual ability. The number of occupational vacancies to fill determines the number admitted to professional programs. This severely limits the choices open to most young people. It also produces .few failures. Most people who enter a program will complete it and find a position for which they have prepared. It is also an economical system, for there are few dropouts or over educated “unemployable.” Contest mobility assumes that everyone should have a chance to compete, and no special sponsorship is necessary. High school is open to everyone, although some students may drop out. All high school graduates may continue their studies, since some colleges will admit even those who have not had the college-preparatory courses. With contest mobility, there are no sharp divisions or termination points. For most curricula, the student does not require a special sponsor (or classification) and is usually eligible for admission. Some colleges have admission standards which exclude lower-ranking students, but some other college will usually take them. Marty students are never graduated, and there is a high rate of failure or withdrawal. Con lest mobility creates a social obligation to provide high school and college facilities for a large part of the population, many of whom never enter the occupation for which they. began preparation. Like other distinctions between concepts, the distinction between contest and sponsored mobility is not absolute. American schools come closer to the contest mobility model; European schools come closer to the sponsored mobility model. Communist countries generally claim to ignore “social position” in sorting out students, but otherwise ·tend to follow the sponsored mobility model. Third World countries show every possible variation or combination. In ~ society, some decisions must be made about who will enroll in advanced education.