Why education may be the root cause of inequality

Above illustration by John Tan

It's simpler than that.

The education system. *Facepalm* The rate of good change within the education system is now probably slower than Gary the Snail. We are taught by society that education is great (of which it is in most cases) and that everyone should seek for "higher, better" education. This is not an article solely to criticise the modern education system, although the only way to improve it, is of course provide constructive feedback.

Although you may gasp at the headline of this article and start questioning my logic, let me explain the choice of the headline. It is in fact true. The problem in society is that no-one has ever addressed this talking point of why education may be the root cause of inequality. Thus, no-one, not even the government nor certain influencers, wish to change it.

Sluggish change with the system

Education has merely changed. Lessons are roughly the same length, students migrate from class to class, subjects are taught a reasonable steady pace. Technology hasn't had a "great" effect upon teaching to be considered a major influence within the system.

Teaching standards around the world are all at different levels. First, I'd like to state that I am not scrutinising teachers or those who work in educational institutions. Although you may have mixed views, most teachers and professors do a great task of teaching and encouraging the best out of their pupils. I am in fact evaluating the system in which education rotates around.

The system is too linear, too static. Most students don't understand why they are learning the things they are. And this is another flaw within the system. As a result of this belief, the education system fails to address mastery of knowledge.

Students don't need an A* or 100% to pass an exam. In most cases they need a C or a pass. That's almost 75% of the subject. And that 75% of the subject means you've "passed" an exam. It is like building a boat and leaving out the sails. But again, this is what the education system promotes, right?


There is an enlarging sense that competition is good within the education system. We all compete for the same places at university, college and even selective schools. Those who are deemed "clever" get to their desired placement whilst the others who don't make it, are put into lower placements or even scrutinised for not trying hard enough.

Those at the top seek further accomplishments, with competition high, they seem to push themselves to the top. Those at the other end may feel clueless and stay in the habit that no-one will ever recognise their potential. You see the trend now, right?

As the top end of the spectrum starts to grow, the other end fails to even take off. It is this separation that many may argue is what causes inequality. The top percent are praised whilst the others settle for "mediocrity". Even at a basic level, competition wishes to separate "talent" from the set-go, creating a magical hierarchy of students.

A majority of the "bottom percent" never learn how to grow themselves because they feel as if they're stuck as the "bottom percent". Our perception in modern society lurches on to the top, giving them more attention and praising their accomplishments and talents, never regarding those who are left behind.

The gap grows and grows. We all see this every day. People who think that they're not as talented or "clever" as someone else, always lack the belief that they'll never be like them. They believe in what people tell them because that's what they've been told for their whole lives. And this continues when they're older...

The value of education

It is of human nature that we value certain things based on their monetary value. We will value a new sports car over something which if free for all. In this case, it is education. Unless it is paid, many fail to establish the value of education as the government provides education for free.

Human nature dictates that we do not care much about it. It is true. Private schools with fees in the thousands of pounds tend to do better than state schools, due to the monetary value upon it. Owing to this value, people are bound to get the most out of what they pay. As a result, those in paid education may "do better" than those at non-paying institutions.

So you can buy your way through because of money? Yes, partially; there are still exceptions where this is not the case (where people do genuinely value education - what we should strive to do), but when one simply puts a price tag on an aspect of society, it is valued more.

The problem

Well - established gaps are created within education, whether it is due to monetary value or talent-based. Inequality, simply defined as the relation between two expressions which are not equal, exists within education and continues to strive.

The alarming reason why this concept has been missed and disregarded, is down to one fundamental truth. It is the way society has worked for many years so what's the point of changing it. As a result of this, it is unlikely that such a concept, where inequality begins at such as young age, is eradicated, unless rules are changed.

It is an ironic and disturbing case whereby one is nurtured through a system which promotes inequality, when society preaches to solve it in the first place. The only solution to solve such a thing is this.

It is up to the individual to go through education thinking that they are better than what is presented to them. People cannot tell you what you can do or what you cannot. You are only renting the educational institution for their facilities and people who can help you to achieve your goals.

 And the same is true for the otherwise. You can rely on education to create your path. You must rely on yourself. As Napoleon Hill stated, "It takes more than a college degree to make one a person of education. Any person who is educated is one who has learned to get whatever he wants in life without violating the rights of others."