Pub­lic good and ed­u­ca­tion

New Straits Times - - Higher ED - MA­HATMA GANDHI The writer is a lec­turer in Ed­u­ca­tion in Aus­tralia. Email him at jamesca@deakin.edu.au

and hor­i­zon­tal di­men­sions can lead to sig­nif­i­cant so­cial, eco­nomic and political prob­lems which, if left un­ad­dressed, have sig­nif­i­cant im­pacts on sta­bil­ity so­cial co­he­sive­ness and ba­sic trust in the vi­a­bil­ity of the so­ci­ety.

Ed­u­ca­tion and the role that pub­lic ed­u­ca­tional institutions play, in ad­vanc­ing so­cial in­clu­sion and pro­vid­ing an av­enue for so­cial and eco­nomic ad­vance­ment, is crit­i­cal to ad­dress­ing in­equal­ity.

Re­search demon­strates that ed­u­ca­tion can have a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect in ad­dress­ing so­cial in­equal­ity and that ad­dress­ing so­cial in­equal­ity, both in the ver­ti­cal and hor­i­zon­tal di­men­sions, is crit­i­cal for a healthy and strong so­ci­ety to sur­vive.

The role that pub­lic schools can play, in bind­ing students to com­mon norms and en­gen­der­ing un­der­stand­ing and mu­tual re­spect be­tween students from di­verse back­grounds, is an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to de­vel­op­ing so­cial co­he­sive­ness in so­ci­eties be­set by cut­throat in­di­vid­u­al­ism and group ten­sions.

The pos­i­tive role that pub­lic ed­u­ca­tional institutions can play in al­low­ing and en­abling marginalised and so­cially and eco­nom­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged students to rise up the lad­der of op­por­tu­nity is one im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to so­cial bet­ter­ment.

The lead­er­ship role that ed­u­ca­tional institutions can play in ad­dress­ing cul­tural and so­cial forms of prej­u­dice through ed­u­ca­tional pro­grammes and show­cas­ing this to the broader so­ci­ety is an­other im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the pub­lic good that pub­lic ed­u­ca­tional institutions can play.

We must re­mind our­selves, how­ever, that ed­u­ca­tional institutions by them­selves can­not solve all the prob­lems of so­cial in­equal­ity which be­set many so­ci­eties.

Ed­u­ca­tion is im­por­tant but it is not a magic bul­let. Recog­nis­ing this tem­pers our ex­pec­ta­tions and hopes but it does not by any means en­tail giv­ing up or dis­miss­ing the pos­i­tive and crit­i­cal role that pub­lic ed­u­ca­tional institutions can play in ad­vanc­ing the pub­lic good.

For na­tions to have a sense of so­cial and na­tional co­he­sive­ness re­quires sup­port for ro­bust and in­clu­sive pub­lic ed­u­ca­tional institutions. The prob­lems of in­equal­ity, marginal­i­sa­tion and in­jus­tice are not tan­gen­tial to ed­u­ca­tion; they are cen­tral to it. What be­comes of a so­ci­ety that for­gets this?

The role that pub­lic ed­u­ca­tional institutions play is crit­i­cal to ad­dress­ing in­equal­ity.

A na­tion’s great­ness is mea­sured by how it treats its weak­est mem­bers.

The role that pub­lic ed­u­ca­tional institutions play is crit­i­cal to ad­dress­ing in­equal­ity.

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