High-quality education is not only a fundamental right, a necessity for every citizen. Many sectors of the economy require education. The second objective of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal is to achieve universal primary education, which should be availed to all children, regardless of their race, sex, or socioeconomic background (Budig 37).
Through education, citizens are improved their life and the society as a whole. In addition, it promotes citizenship, identity, equality, social cohesion, and employment, leading to economic growth.
Notably, governments across the world have introduced many reforms with the aim of promoting equality at all levels (Cronin 32). Evidently, it has become a challenge to eliminate education disparity. However, this has not been the case in some countries (Harcourt par. 3). Education inequality is experienced in many nations not only in the US, but across the world.
Education inequality refers to the differences that are experienced in learning results or effectiveness (Harcourt par. 5). The disparity is experienced by learners from different communities. The effectiveness is assessed by grades, test scores, the rate of school drop-out, and the number of learners who join and complete higher education institutions.
Notably, the difference in education is attributed to the economic disparities that directly or indirectly relate to race (Harcourt par. 8). Many scholars have argued that race and economic disparity are inseparable (Harcourt par. 6). This is for the reason that the difference is big in white and minority students. This paper focuses on discussing education inequality in the view of the three theories, i.e., structural functionalism, conflict, symbolic interactionists theories.
Different scholars have different views about reducing the inequalities. A newspaper reports that reducing the difference in learners’ achievement will be determined by establishing policies that would focus on protecting policies that emphasize the development of new initiatives and inequality reduction (Leeman par. 7). Education differences have been attributed to many factors, such as family background, gender, and the social status.
Emile Durkheim contends that the poor play key roles in education and are important for many reasons (Leeman par. 8). First, after completion of their courses, they do jobs that no one would want to do, particularly where the pay is poor. For a society to function, it must consist of different professional, such as teachers, physicians, janitors, and politician (Leeman par. 11). Thus, if there is no education disparity, then, there some jobs would not have people to do.
Different theories have different views about education. According to structural functionalism, education concentrates on socializing individuals and transmitting cultures (Moffitt par. 6). It states that education classifies people into different classes, creating social inequality. Evidently, it focuses on establishing means of controlling people within a society. Inequality in education classifies children placing them in different categories.
In addition, education establishes peer relations and lowers unemployment by ensuring that those who complete their studies are free from the labor force (Moffitt par. 9). However, challenges in education institutions have created in education inequality. The theory states that challenges harm the community because they hinder it from performing its functions (Moffitt par. 12).
The conflict theorists argue that learning enhances social inequality. It is important to note that the application of tracking and standardized examinations have impacted negatively on the provision of education (Harcourt par. 13). Although the curriculum that is used to teach in both institutions is the same, there is a wide difference in terms of funding and the learning conditions, which results in learning disparity (Harcourt par. 14). Learning disparity contributes to social inequality in the society.
It is correct to state that most teachers sort learners using grade, whereby bright students are placed together and the slow learners are placed in the lower tracks. Despite the fact that the tracking promotes development of individual abilities of the bright students the theorists dispute that it perpetuates education inequality by categorizing students into fast and slow learners. Notably, there are other factors that affect the track into which they are locked (Hannan par. 5).
Ethnic backgrounds, social status, and the colors of the learners determine the locks into which they are placed. In addition, the proponents of this theory contend that tests that are used to, enhancing disparity in education. The difference in quality education is brought about by the fact that schools are unequal, and this inequality helps to maintain the disparities in schools, especially in urban areas (Income inequality, schooling, and educational outcomes).
Evidently, children who attend the poorly-equipped schools in urban areas have experienced problems that interfere with their learning. However, those who attend to well-equipped institutions do not encounter any challenge, even if they are in rural areas. These differences ensure that poverty and its related problems are maintained (Income inequality, schooling, and educational outcomes).
The symbolic interaction theory argues that education is key to socializing of individuals. The socialization that takes place in classrooms, playing fields, and other school venues are crucial in promoting equality (Crossman par. 6). However, many institutions of learning, promote education inequality, especially where there are different races. Education interactions have effects on the development of gender roles and instructors’ expectations of learners intellectual capabilities impact how students learn (Crossman par. 8).
Many of the problems that lead to inequality have their basis in interactions and expectations. The advocate of this theory note that inequality in education can be attributed to the teachers (Crossman par. 9). This is because teachers’ perceptions affect how learners will perform. Learners that teachers think are smarter with regard to academic performance outcomes perform better than those students, teachers think are weak in academic (Crossman par. 8).
Proponents argue that teachers spend more time with the bright students compared with the weak ones (Crossman par. 9). This enhances inequality because, in the end, both students would be subjected to the same tests, and since the bright learners studied more, they will automatically outshine the weak ones. With regard to inequalities experienced in gender in education sector, teachers concentrate more on boys than girls.
Although this is done unconsciously, their actions send a hidden message to learners, particularly the mathematics and science teachers (Crossman par. 10). This makes girls to believe that they are not fit to do mathematics and sciences. This implies that labels that are attached to learners have great impact because our educational knowledge is crucial in the development of one’s self-concept. The teachers’ word act as prophesy and teachers should be careful when addressing the learners.
Having looked at the sociological perspectives of inequality in education, it is important to understand the general causes of disparities. It has been revealed that students who come from families that do not communicate using English encounter challenges in overcoming barriers in order to understand subjects (Education study finds pattern of inequality).These learners lack support from homes due to the fact that even their families do not understand the language.
This is the case particularly the US. Studies have shown that learners from low socioeconomic status attend to poorly funded schools that have poor resources and facilities. As a result, they are stressed, leading to poor performance outcomes. Another cause of the inequality is gender, whereby female learners being the most advantaged (Education study finds pattern of inequality).
Attitudes toward gender roles, poverty, early marriages and pregnancies are among the key factors that contribute to the disadvantages. Furthermore, the socialized gender responsibilities have hindered the girl-child from accessing education. Men are given opportunities to acquire best education, such as computer and scientific learning (Education study finds pattern of inequality).
Nevertheless, it is critical to point out education inequality has affected both the learners and the society. Social mobility is promoted through these differences (Schmidt 40).
Those who attain higher levels of education move from one social status to another. However, sociologists have indicated that has reduced in many countries across the world due to a stratified system of education. Stigmatization may affect learners, especially when teachers label students. Notably, learners’ morale is lowered, leading to decline in the performance outcomes (Schmidt 40).
In conclusion, education inequality is among the challenges facing education sector. Race, socioeconomic status, and gender are the key factors that promote learning differences in institutions.
Different theories have different views about the inequalities in education. To reduce the differences, governments should continue reforming education policies. There is a need to increase the availability of education to children, regardless of their race, economic status, gender, and religious background. There should be Global Partnership in education to provide global efforts to minimize the disparity.
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