August 3, 2022
The role of education in our society is changing to a great extent. For a long period of time education served the role of an equalizer being available for all people regardless of their socioeconomic and ethnic background. Due to a number of social and economic changes, education is no longer considered to be a means of promoting equality. While some people claim the role of education has changed, it is essential to embrace the high value of education in modern society.
Calculate the price
The cost of education is rising at a remarkable speed which makes young people all around the globe doubt whether education is worth the money paid for it. I am the third daughter in my family, and my parents gave education to all three of us having faced considerable expenditures. Judging from my personal experience, the price paid for education is reasonable. I attended Dubai International School, and the fee my parents have paid from kindergarten 1 to grade 12 comes to 159,028 AED, and for 9 semesters at the American University of Sharjah, they paid 424,170 AED. Money paid for education is a great investment in the future.
There is a great variety of researches that focus on the influence of education on economic outcomes. As stated by Kristin Blagg and Erica Blom, for most students investing in higher education, there will be an economic return (2018). However, this investment may not turn out well for all the students. There are some reasons which lead to lower returns and a negative outcome. First of all, some students overestimate their likelihood of completing higher education studies. Secondly, some majors may not lead to high earnings. Lastly, the economic returns on education may vary by local economic conditions. According to Dr. Mona El-Sholkamy and Dr. Yasser Al-Saleh, there are studies on the economic returns on education particularly in the United Arab Emirates, which show that there is a ratio of 1.75 which is favorable and means that for every UAE Dirham spent by parents on education, a return of 1.75 AED is expected for their children in the future (2017). Even though the economic return on education is difficult to calculate due to a number of reasons, the factual data shows that the returns are positive.
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Along with being a good investment in the future, education also performs a function of a social equalizer depending on what perspective one follows. Government investment in education for all persons is one of the most powerful instruments we can use to end the inequality that still takes place in our societies. However, in sociology, there are a few differing perspectives on this topic. The functionalist perspective supports the idea that education serves the function of the equalizer (Andres, 2016). According to this perspective, education promotes socialization and social integration between peers. Moreover, the functions of education include social placement and social innovations. Besides positive functions, education may also harm society because all these functions cannot be performed to the full extent. From the conflict theory perspective, education promotes social inequality due to the use of standardized tests, tracking, and teaching unintended lessons (Andres, 2016). In addition, this perspective suggests that schools differ in their funding and learning conditions leading to extreme inequality. From my personal observation, education rather promotes equality bringing people of different backgrounds together and allowing them to learn from each other. The two perspectives contrast with each other giving totally different views on education, so people should decide for themselves which perspective is closer to their point of view.
As mentioned before, standardized tests promote inequality from a conflict perspective. Nevertheless, they were actually created to promote fairness. They do so by providing the same conditions for all individuals. However, some people believe the assessment should not be based on standardized tests alone; it should involve subjective measures. I disapprove of the use of subjective measures, as they are poly-interpretable. Some researches revealed that often teachers give marks to students depending on how they feel about a particular student. For instance, there is evidence that ethnic minority students get lower scores if their teacher belongs to the ethnic majority (Burgess & Greaves, 2013). Sometimes involving such subjective measures, such as in teachers’ reports and in the process of participation in extra-curricular activities, may be beneficial because it encourages students. Nonetheless, unfair feedback can destroy students’ academic motivation and focus on extra-curricular activities may prevent students from studying. Assessment may only be dependable if subjective measures are applied consistently and consensually.
Furthermore, higher education institutions have a practice of giving some special treatment to people from a particular socioeconomic or racial and ethnic background, which is another factor that promotes unfairness. I believe this practice has outlived itself and there is no sense in taking such measures anymore. This practice pretends to solve a problem that no longer exists (Minorities May Be Underrepresented, 2015). In the past, it was a necessary step to solve racial tension, but nowadays our society is more tolerant and open-minded. Also, the special treatment encourages people to search for easy access rather than work hard to achieve academic success. The minorities start to take advantage of their status and get benefits without putting any efforts. Many people may not realize it, but, in fact, a special treatment makes minorities struggle even more. The privileges put minorities in circumstances where they cannot learn and compete effectively. Even though this practice was intended to be a positive one, now it should be abolished to stop the encouragement of inequality.
The research shows that higher education still serves different functions in our society and its role should not be underestimated. Education gives more opportunities for the youth by proving them with better earnings in the future and a chance for the poor to end the cycle of poverty, thus narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor. The inequality is still present in education in different forms, but it is evident that with time there is progress and it has a positive prognosis for the future. The value of higher education is great, and it is a reliable path to take for future success.