Learning to labour or labouring to learn? Curricular stratification in Israeli vocational high schools

Abraham Yogev*, Hanna Ayalon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Allocation and socialization are two separate dimensions of the 'hidden curriculum'. Following recent studies on the reproductive nature of the vocational school curriculum, we explore the curricular stratification of students within the rigidly structured Israeli vocational high schools. We examine whether students' allocation to specific vocational programmes by ethnicity, status of origin, and gender, is related to the prestige of the occupation studied in the progammes, or whether it is influenced by academic ability. Analyzing the student composition of all 81 vocational high school programmes operated between 1980 and 1982, we find that girls are allocated to curricula leading to lower occupational attainments than boys, particularly regarding their prospects of achieving managerial positions and business ownership. In contrast, curricular stratification by ethnicity and status of origin is influenced by the students' chances of placement in the academically demanding matriculation sub-track. Our findings, lending only partial support to the thesis of direct social reproduction by the vocational school curriculum, reflect the ambivalent charter of the vocational schools, incorporating socialization for work with the provision of equal educational opportunity. A better correspondence between the socialization and stratification principles of their curriculum is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-219
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1991


FundersFunder number
Pinhas Sapir Center for Development
Tel Aviv University


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