Evaluating spatial and social inequality by using GIS to analyze the catchment area and capacity of preschools in Ghent, Belgium


The growing popularity of the city as a qualitative living environment has an explicit and distinct impact on all regional cities in Flanders (Belgium). As a result of the pressure exerted by the increase in population, different kinds of spatial and social inequality can be perceived for multiple urban functions, for example for the educational system. Pupils of primary schools (in Flanders children between the age of 2.5 and 12 years) living in densely populated areas characterised by a capacity shortage in education are forced to attend schools at greater distances, because the capacity of nearby schools is exceeded. As a consequence, parents setting up camp in front of the school gates during enrolment periods are an annually recurring phenomenon. Methods pinpointing areas where problems concerning capacity are to be expected are missing. The research at hand used two different methods (short-term and long-term) to analyse the pressure exerted on preschools as a result of the growing urban population. The first analysis researched the change in capacity needs of preschools taking into account the rise of the number of children between the ages of 2 and 5 years to be expected over the next two years. The second analysis predicted the impact of urban growth on the accessibility to preschools. Instead of prognoses in overall population growth, the supply of new housing units from 2013 till 2025 was used to predict the rise in the number of children between the ages of 2.5 and 5.5 years for the next decade. Both analyses were validated for pre-schools in the city of Ghent, Flemish Region, Belgium and proved to be valuable tools to support local policy in education. The results indicated areas with considerable capacity and accessibility problems, on the short term as well as on the long term

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