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Improving Health and Social Cohesion through Education

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Today’s global policy climate underlines the importance of better addressing non-economic dimensions of well-being and social progress such as health, social engagement, political interest and crime. Education plays an important role in shaping indicators of progress. However, we understand little about the causal effects, the causal pathways, the role of contexts and the relative impacts that different educational interventions have on social outcomes.

This report addresses challenges in assessing the social outcomes of learning by providing a synthesis of the existing evidence, original data analyses and policy discussions. The report finds that education has the potential to promote health as well as civic and social engagement. Education may reduce inequalities by fostering cognitive, social and emotional skills and promoting healthy lifestyles, participatory practices and norms. These efforts are most likely to be successful when family and community environments are aligned with the efforts made in educational institutions. This calls for ensuring policy coherence across sectors and stages of education.

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Education and civic and social engagement

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

OECD countries have become increasingly interested in their citizens’ civic and social engagement, not only because of its intrinsic value but also because of the potential benefits they bring to the society. Can education play a role in raising civic and social engagement? On the one hand, the available causal evidence suggests that secondary schools in the United States play a role in fostering political engagement, although in Europe the jury is still out. On the other hand, the evidence sheds little light on the potentially important role of higher education in promoting civic engagement, interpersonal trust and tolerance. The lack of robust causal evidence on the net effects of education may suggest that certain features of education matter more than others.

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