The catchment area is the geographical area served by a school. (In order to delineate it, pinpoint pupils' homes and outline the smallest area covering all of them).
Hallak, J. 1977. Planning the location of schools: an instrument of educational policy. Paris: UNESCO-IIEP.
There is very little difficulty in interpreting the objective of opening schools in such a way that all children enjoy equal opportunity of access to them. Indeed it seems to be a basic element of all policies to reduce disparities. Generally, though, accessibility is defined solely in terms of physical accessibility. To measure this we would have to take into account distance, relief, communications, and the time taken to travel between school and home, bearing in mind available means of transport. The problem therefore consists in determining the catchment areas of existing schools in order to identify, on the one hand, the population that lies outside these catchment areas and is therefore deprived of any education service for reasons of physical accessibility, and, on the other hand, to estimate, inside the catchment areas (i.e. in the areas reached by the school system) the proportion of school-age children actually managing to find places in the schools (Caillods, et al: 118).
Caillods, F.; Casselli, J. Ta Ngoc Châu; Porte, G. 1983. School mapping and micro-planning in education. Training materials in educational planning, administration and facilities. Paris: UNESCO-IIEP.