Education and democracy are crucial elements within every successful society. Education entails the acquisition of knowledge and skills regarding various matters or aspects that concern man. In a broad definition, it entails the whole of a person’s being and becoming. Under the provisions of the Universal Human Rights Declaration, the world’s nations have given a commitment to make education a right for everyone. In many jurisdictions, basic education is mandatory. Parents who fail to enroll their children for education are presumed to have broken the law. Education is held to be a universal human right.
Democracy refers to the character, the spirit, the way of life of a people. The supreme power is vested in the people who exercise it directly or through their representatives who are elected in an open, fair and transparent electoral process. In such a system of government, the citizens have equal rights to opportunities and privileges. In entails involvement of the populace in decision-making process on matters that would affect them. The majority of nations in the world have embraced democracy. Some of the notable examples include the United States and Canada.
Education and democracy are inextricably interlinked. Throughout history, studies have shown that nations with a substantial portion of its citizenry being educated have better democratic policies and practices than those with a relatively smaller percentage. Educated elites have often been associated with liberal movements and revolutions from dictatorial regimes. The welfare of societies with a majority of its citizens being educated is better than those where the most are illiterate. In the preceding chapters, a discussion is made to show a strong relationship between education and democracy.
Education is mainly offered in schools. Its curricula contain subjects on law, history, geography, and leadership. Human rights are part of the studies offered at schools. While acquiring education, students get to learn about different forms of governments. By learning history, they get to know about the effects of the different forms of government on the population welfare. Therefore, an understanding is established on the best systems of governance, its advantages, disadvantages, as well as challenges. As a result, students form an informed group of elite who understand their rights, the limitations to their rights, their obligations and how to exercise them. Educated elite often end up working with reputable companies and institutions. They earn income that translates to decent lives.
After the students learn about the forms of government, their rights as contained in the constitutions, they compare what they learn in school against what happens on a daily basis. Through that, they question those in power whenever they violate the rights of the citizens. Student riots against the authorities in Oxford, Bologna and Paris shook the governments. Student activism was also evident in the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King got immediate and immense support from students in Wittenberg as well as several German universities. Through education the students were abreast of their rights and understood how they ought to exercise them. They supported Dr. King because they were convinced he was right.
In the 19th century, students played a key role in change of various regimes that were seen to be dictatorial and oppressive of the citizens. In Argentina, Peron was overthrown in 1995, the Hungarian Revolution led to the fall of Perez in 1958, while student riots and demonstrations led to the resignation of Kishi Government in Japan. This shows how educated minds removed governments from power that were against fair principles of democracy. An educated populace would challenge regimes that do not conform to the ideals of democracy. Less educated citizenry would only offer small coups, mainly organized by cadres in the army. When the general populace becomes more informed and educated on their rights, small coups are replaced with effective uprisings similar to the American Revolution.
In schools, students learn about interpersonal skills and socialization as tools useful in civic participation. They learn on how to interact with others from diverse backgrounds. It is also taught in schools that it is wrong to practice discrimination. Negotiation skills are equally acquired through learning offered at educational institutions. In addition, students learn the importance of their involvement in societal and political matters through the election of leaders of their choice and holding them to account. Such an informed citizenry would be effective in embracing democracy as it identifies and recognizes the rights of all in the society.
In schools, students have opportunities to practice what they learn in democratic policies and principles. They form clubs, associations to champion a common good for students. Election of leaders to head the groups is done through transparent elections. Through mock elections, students test the principles of democracy and their challenges. Therefore, because of education, students acquire skills on aspects of democracy. They understand the best systems that promote this form of government.
Education raises awareness on the importance of supporting a broad regime unlike a narrow one based on dictatorship. Students who acquire education would, therefore be aware of the benefits and challenges associated with the two forms of governance. In nations with uneducated citizens, knowledge on issues is limited. No one can claim a right of which they do not know. Such a nation will live at the mercy of its leaders who rely on their ignorance to enrich themselves.
The constitution provides people for their rights. It also has provisions for election of leaders in a transparent and fair way. It further provides that resources shall be used in an equitable manner without any discrimination on grounds of race, color or religion. These rights are guaranteed under the constitution and various laws. The educated elite would be aware of such facts. On the other hand, the uneducated people would not have an idea of existence of such laws. In exercise of their rights, the educated would be effective unlike the illiterate.
Democracy provides the majority for their own way. The educated and uneducated populaces present different political actors in any democratic system. As has been presented above, the educated have a better understanding of the issues facing the society and the best ways to tackle them. During electioneering period or times, the politicians would be out to sell their agenda to the electorate. Policies on how to handle issues facing the society would be advanced. It would be the duty of the citizens to evaluate the aspirants for office and rate them based on ability to deliver and lead.
On many occasions, the uneducated have misplaced bases that they use to evaluate and judge aspirants. Based on their inept understanding of concepts in the society, it follows that any judgment = to be made would be erroneous. Such decisions would mainly be based on race, ethnic background, color, religion and country of origin. On the other hand, evaluations by an educated lot would be founded on integrity of candidates, past records, experience and performance. Since democracy holds that the majority rule, the uneducated would prove to be a challenge to democracy. Ineffective leaders would end up in power. Democracy would best be effective where a substantial part of the citizens is informed. That happens through education acquired by learning.
Thus, in many countries, education is related to democracy. An educated populace is informed about their rights. They understand how to exercise their rights as provided in the supreme law. It is the power they delegate to leaders whom they elect and hold accountable during their tenure in office. Therefore, such a group would live in a free society. On the contrary, an uneducated citizenry understands less regarding democracy. History has shown that educated elites have had an immense and positive effect on activities that have promoted democratic principles in the world. There is a positive relationship between education and democracy.