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The Roles of Education in Turning Individuals into Citizens of a Nation-State Essay

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Updated: Mar 29th, 2019


Education is a crucial element of nation building because it empowers the entire nation. An educated country is able to overcome the obstacles that hinder national development such as poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy.

The developed nations have managed to achieve their national goals towards development by investing in education. This paper will focus on the role of education towards nation building, particularly in China.

Recent surveys conducted by different scholars suggest that China’s economy is second to that of US with regard to stability. The stability of China is evident in all areas at national level including trade, employment, and education among others.

Education has a very special place in China, thus the government manages the system. This is because the country realized that empowering people from the grassroots level up to the national level could only realize its potential. In other words, every Chinese citizen must learn for at least nine years (Chen & Reid 58).

Education Policy

Every country is committed to nurturing responsible citizens through the implementation of education policy from the early stages of an individual’s life. According to Chen and Reid (59), China has many resources but they would be rendered useless if the population does not have the necessary knowledge that is required to utilize them.

Education presents an opportunity for individuals to discover their abilities and later use them to sustain themselves and their dependants. Just like the rest of the world, unemployment, poverty and other socio-factors affects China.

Education is viewed as the only remedy for overcoming the challenges caused by these socio factors and was thus enacted as legislation in July 1, 1986.

The learning centers are fairly distributed in China’s provinces to ensure that individuals who reside in remote areas have an equal opportunity for access to quality education. Han (31) argues that during the nine years of mandatory learning the young learners are expected to attend schools that are strategically located in their respective provinces.

The Chinese government funds the learning centers and the funding is dependent on the province’s population. However, the parents must chip in to cater for some of the expenses.

Present National Policies for Citizenship Education

The education system of China is an agent of change because it is used by the government to implement a modernization plan which will change the way people associate themselves with the country.

The model of modernization is based on collectiveness because it fights for the rights of the society and thus does not acknowledge individual rights. The government emphasizes citizenship education because it is believed to discourage the youth from being disloyal to the authorities.

Citizenship education is integrated with the education system through certain subjects such as Chinese language, which is taught in early years. This education is extended to other subjects such as history, art, music, labor, and music.

During the nine years of compulsory learning, the curriculum focuses on teaching the learners about patriotism, nationality and socialism. The learners are encouraged to embrace the traits of the Chinese race which are used to identify it from other races (Xia 36).

The curriculum sensitizes the learners about the existence of democratic law and encourages them to observe the national laws. The students are informed about their obligation in the society. This area is covered at junior and senior primary levels.

The young learners are taught how to sing patriotic songs. Besides that, the curriculum expose them to films that pay tribute to people who have gone through affliction while fighting for their country.

The learners are assigned minor duties and this is done to prepare them for adult life where they will be expected to work in order to meet their own needs. Moreover, the early exposure makes work become part of their lifestyle and thus, they will not find it difficult when they grow up.

Jan points out that in China the government has a code of conduct that is supposed to be observed by learners in their respective categories (14). This means there is a separate code of conduct for the junior primary level, senior primary level and higher education.

Among the values that are emphasized by the codes of conduct include self-respect, public morality, humbleness, obedience, diligence, respect for parents and guardians, simplicity and thrill.

The Role of Education

The learning centers have a very special place in the society, especially China, because children in the modern and rural setting meet for the purpose of socialization. Of course, the pursuit of education is what brings most learners to school.

These learning centers are a source of empowerment for children and adults. When the compulsory education policy was implemented in China, adults had to be enrolled in vocational training programs. This was to ensure that they could actively participate in nation building tasks regardless of their age (Jan 51).

Developed nations pump a lot of money into the education. This ensures that the country has adequate supply of intellectuals, and thus does not need to import experts from other countries to come and do tasks that the local citizens can undertake.

Children learn to be responsible citizens while they are in school and they apply these teachings in the adulthood life. Without education, the society would loose its values especially in this age of modernization.

Before the coming of modernization, each society would teach its people about its beliefs and values but currently that gap has been left to be filled by education. Nowadays, parents work round the clock to meet the needs of their families and therefore they do not have the time to teach their children about citizenship.

Education enlightens people about their entitlements and the need to fight to safeguard their interests. United States and Britain have the strongest armies and their excellence in that field is because of the skills and abilities of their personnel.

China is also working towards developing a strong army similar to other developed countries. China has established institutions that train people in the areas of engineering such as nuclear and rocket science.

Lee, et al (143) argue that education serves as the defender of national heritage because this is where people learn about the culture of their forefathers. Before the coming of formal schools, the cultures of a society used to be passed on from one generation to another which is not possible because the society has been disintegrated.

In this era of modernization, careers are molded in schools that are in the form of colleges, universities and vocational training centers.

Colleges and universities absorb individuals who excel in academics while vocational training centers equip learners with technical skills such as hairdressing and tailoring among other careers. This suggests that education defines personalities, which is earned by going through the education system.

Furthermore, education transforms people by giving them the knowledge that is needed to coexist with each other. From another perspective, education makes people to be equal because it presents equal opportunities for all.

Education enables people to appreciate their history and develop a sense of belonging. The schools in China teach in Mandarin and thus the common language becomes a unifying factor in the society.

Education changes the peoples’ attitudes because it makes them appreciate their differences instead of using them to discriminate against others. Education causes people to see and reason differently because they have a better understanding.

Without education, the society is coupled with a lot of primitivism that is linked to our beliefs and cultures. The school teaches people about the risks of practicing some cultural rites and encourages them to adopt or retain cultures that don’t impact on their lives negatively. People who have gone through an education system do things differently compared to their uneducated counterparts.

Gone are the days when communities used to earn their daily bread by hunting and gathering wild fruits. Wang and Zhou agree that the society has now been liberated and each man must fend for himself (90).

Life favors the crafty and everyone needs to have some skills that can be used to put food on the table. Skills can only be earned through learning because there is no room for apprenticeship due to urbanization.

Similarly, education guarantees a bright future for oneself, and that is why parents and guardians make sure that they send their children to school. The courses that are taught in Chinese colleges and universities range from arts to engineering courses.

There is stiff competition in China’s job market and the youth have to learn more to increase their chances of being absorbed by the various organizations that are in China.

Alternatively, the learned individuals can employ themselves because they are taught entrepreneurial skills when they are in learning institutions. People who don’t have education can not fit in the society because they can not sustain themselves and usually resort to engaging in criminal activities.

The education system of China also acts as the reservoir of intellectuals for this country. When children are enrolled in various schools, they are molded to become what they want to be in life and later assume those positions.

However, the doctors, teachers, soldiers and other professionals can not remain in their positions forever because a time will come when they will have to retire and that gap has to be filled by the upcoming intellectuals. On the other hand education is viewed as the solution for eliminating poverty.

Currently, there are approximately one thousand learning institutions in China, and this increase is because of the increase in government funding. Knowledge is power because it enables people to foresee the dangers and caution themselves against those dangers (Jan 33).

Moreover, education assigns people a social status depending on their level of education. The most learned are perceived to be the best decision makers and for this reason, they earn decent incomes.

The society consults them for opinion because they are thought to have faced many encounters which has hardened them. Education is also referenced when the society is choosing its leaders. Education promotes competition because there are limited opportunities awarded by merit.

For instance, there are limited university places in China and hence the government had to employ alternative approach to ensure the learners are able to obtain their degrees.

Functions of Education to the Society

All societies are subject to change despite their strong resistance to change. The Chinese society is not exceptional because it has been altered through its encounters with persons from other geographical locations who come to China in pursuit of higher education or trade.

Besides that, the society has had to change due to the changes in environment. The old practices that were carried out by the society are preserved because they will be referred to by forth coming generations for understanding where they belong and why the practices are significant (Xia 45).

Education can never be exhausted because it is always needed to help the individual and the society to cope with challenges in life. For instance, the research studies in medicine cannot come to a dead end because diseases are developing resistances every day, and thus newer remedies must be remedied to ensure that illnesses are arrested in good time.

Additionally, the military wing of the state must learn new tactics and develop advanced weapons to ensure they are ahead of the game when it comes to safeguarding the state’s territory. This implies that education increases the strengths of the nation.

The sense of belonging that is acquired while learning makes people to devote their lives to their nation. This means that people are not afraid of dying while in pursuit of freedom for their country. This argument was evidenced in the US during the civil war.

The education system was used a tool for collecting funds for the war and sensitization purposes. An educated society has a strong sense of humanity and this attribute has enabled the people of China not to be hostile towards foreigners. This noble gesture has bore positive results for China because it is currently among the highly preferred destination for education purposes (Lee et al. 150).

The subjects that are taught in school play a major role in sensitizing the upcoming generation about their roles towards nation building. Education makes them appreciate their skills by using them to benefit themselves and the society that nurtured them.

The literacy enables them to fight for their rights, which they would not realize if they did not go to school. The intellectuals are keen observers of what is going around them and because they are well versed in state laws they know how to negotiate for their entitlements.

For instance, in China, the nine years of compulsory are partially funded by the government and thus literate parents cannot be cheated into footing the entire school fees.

According to Xia education fosters national harmony because it teaches people to accept each other regardless of our differences (152). In 1960s, the education system in China was very biased and this caused a lot of disturbance in the country.

This is because admission into institutions was reserved for the children who came from wealthy families or those who had political affiliations. The quality of education was of low quality because the admissions did not follow any protocol.

In China’s citizenship, there are three entities: the nationals, citizens and the people. In this state the term nationals and citizens mean the same thing because they refer to individuals who are lawfully recognized by the state as legitimate inhabitants of China.

The term people refers to the individuals who are evil and selfish because they only care for their own interests only and they include landlords, businessmen and individuals who resist change. In conclusion, more reforms in education are still needed to ensure that the youth are in a better position to sustain themselves and the nation in general.

Works Cited

Chen, Y.G. and Reid, I. “Citizenship education in Chinese schools: retrospect and prospect.” Research n education 67.1 (2002): 58-69. Print.

Han, Jialing. “Survey Report on the State of Compulsory Education among Migrant Children in Beijing.” Chinese Education and Society 37.5 (2004): 29-55. Print.

Jan, Tracy. “In China, Ivy League dreams weigh heavily on students.” The Boston Globe. 4 Jan. 2009. Print.

Lee, J.C.K. et al. ”Students’ environmental concerns and opinions: a Chinese perspective.” The Environmentalist 20.2 (2000): 141-155. Print.

Wang, C-Z. and Zhou, Q-H. ”Minority education in China: from state’s preferential policies to dislocated Tibetan schools.” Educational Studies 29.1 (2003): 85-104. Print.

Xia, Chunli. “Migrant Children and the Right to Compulsory Education in China.” Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law 7.2 (2006): 29-74. Print.

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