Sunday, April 14, 2013

A right to free education . An opinion that is very controversial.

Those who disagree bring up several arguments. Just Google it and you will find dozens of arguments. I will go through the most common ones and put them in perspective. Do you agree or disagree with these statements?

The first one is that "allowing everyone to college and university might bring the classroom level down because poor students might come to class because they have nothing else to do". Even though education would be free, poor students will not spend their time in school doing nothing when they can earn money. This can also easily be fixed when students need to achieve a minimum result to be allowed to stay in school. Amongst poor people you have also very smart people. It would be better to oblige students to have an entrance exam. This would result in having the smartest students in your college instead of the richest ones. Having the smartest graduate students would increase the image of even the most exclusive schools. More students means more institutions. More institutions means more diversity and competition among schools, which will offer improvements in education outcomes.

"Only the rich ones would benefit from free education. Everyone will need to pay more taxes so the poor ones will subsidize rich students who can easily afford to pay fees". The government would indeed need to contribute financially to education. But these taxes can be levied accordingly to family income: the more families earn, the more they contribute. The government can also agree that education is not free but that low income families will need to pay a lot less tuition fee, also accordingly to their income. Not charging people for education could become very beneficial for the country and its economy. Everyone can attend, so the gap between rich and poor students decreases as poorer students have more opportunity. The economy also benefits from the increased pool of highly educated labor. An educated workforce attracts employers and foreign investment. Socially, a more educated population should have more choices regarding nutrition, jobs and lifestyle.

Another point is that "a university education is a choice, not a requirement. People who finish college with advanced qualifications are going to earn large salaries and can easily afford to pay back loans". Nobody is obliged to get a major degree, but in a democratic world we need to at least make sure that everyone gets the same possibilities to get a major degree if they choose so, no matter their social background. What if Einstein would have been born in a poor family? Would we have missed all his theories?

Finally, there's a pragmatic argument. “It is simply better for society to have everyone have at least some basic level of education. People with more education tend to earn more in life, and better-educated societies are more innovative, better decision-makers and generally happier. So an educated populace, regardless of citizenship, is in our best interests”.
Hopefully one day governments understand that this is the only way to secure the economic and social future of the country. When the United Stated want to continue to compete internationally it does not just need innovative education strategies, it needs to create a well-educated work force to help grow its economy and compete with large countries like China.
I’m very happy that already a high ranked university like Harvard has understood this need.

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." Andy McIntyre

Indeed, do you want your country to be governed by rich people instead of smart people? Do you want your company run by a rich boss instead of a smart boss? The competitive advantage can be easily lost, with all possible negative consequences.

Sources: N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <>. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <>. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <>. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <>.

McIntyre, Andy. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <>.

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