Publication details

The Biographical Reproduction of Social and Educational Inequalities in the Narratives of Repeatedly Unsuccessful Vocational Graduates from the Czech Republic

Investor logo


Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description International studies indicate that one of the biggest problems that the post-communistic countries must confront is the strong influence that social background has on students' results, their educational aspirations, and consequently even their chances of continuing in studies upon completion of secondary school (Simonová & Soukup, 2009). The fact that the Czech educational system's structure contributes by its high selectivity to the emergence of educational inequalities is manifested in several aspects. This study concentrates on one of them, the selectivity at the secondary education level. It addresses it particularly by researching the academic failure at the HEEQ exam of students from vocational secondary schools. Czech VET schools offer programs leading to a higher education entrance qualification (HEEQ) or a VET certificate. VET students must pass a very specialised and demanding school part of the HEEQ exam. However, the VET students mainly fail the national part of the final exams for the HEEQ, which is the same for vocational schools and Gymnasiums. Previous research has shown that VET students mostly endangered by academic failure are from less privileged family backgrounds (Straková et al., 2021). This paper considers the value of biographical narratives for gaining a more profound and complex knowledge of the social structures in which the individual is positioned (e.g. Apitzsch & Inowlocki, 2000; Bertaux & Kohli, 2009). For this reason, it applies the concept of agency to argue that young people's lives are shaped by structure and tend to reproduce enduring structural inequalities. The research question is thus how the biographies of students interact with the practices of Czech VET schools and how their interplay leads to failure at the HEEQ exam. Data are derived from biographical narrative interviews with VET students (n=40) who failed at least twice the HEEQ exam in 2018, 2019 or 2020. The method used to analyse the data was the holistic-content mode of narrative analysis (Leiblich et al., 1998) together with the technique of narrative types (Honkasilta et al., 2016). First results indicate four types of biographies leading to the reproduction of social and educational inequalities: (1) struggles with being HEEQ first-generation students; (2) experiencing teachers' discouragement from passing the exam; (3) perceiving the school preparation to the national part of the exam as unsatisfactory and inequitable; and (4) enduring the pressure that leads to moving from the family of origin before finishing upper-secondary studies.
Related projects:

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.

More info