Spatial mobility and accessability of education in countryside: youth’s school travel in rural Latvia
Recent studies address the accessibility as indicator of social exclusion through the context of travel behaviour and opportunities to access services depending on various physical and socio-demographic factors. Education is one of the most important services affecting the development of people and determining equal participation in life. Hence the accessibility of education should be important issue when process of social exclusion is tackled
Since 1990s negative natural population growth and domestic migration towards to largest cities as well as labour outflow primarily to Western Europe reflected in significant decline of the number of young people mainly living in rural regions of Latvia. Changes in distribution of population as well as outcomes of economic crisis in 2008 encouraged the responsible authorities (the Ministry of Education and Science) to introduce business management approach in the organization of the education system. The rationalization of school network through closing and restructuring financially ineffective schools significantly changed daily mobility patterns of youth living in rural areas as well as rise the question on accessibility of education in general.
This paper presents results of a one rural municipality analysis of the youth's school travel using survey in Latvia. Addressing both physical (distance) as well as socio-demographic and socio-economic (age, gender, access to car, etc.) factors affecting youth's travel behaviour we tried to determine impact of changes in youth mobility spatiotemporal patterns on their accessibility of schools.