Education should be a right not a privilege Report (Assessment)

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Impact of rights on education, the role of choice.

Education should be a right not a privilege. This argument stems from a basic understanding of a right. If something is a right, then its removal should cause negative consequences. However, if people treat it as a privilege, then its negation should cause neutral repercussions. The removal of education can cause severe consequences, so this illustrates that education ought to be a right.

The United Nations recognizes education as a basic right as outlined in its charter. It argues that every child is entitled to free basic or fundamental education in Article 26. Many believe that this will contribute towards the betterment of society.

Education is required to foster societal development; if it is made into a privilege, then societies will not prosper. Such an approach will undermine economic, social and political development in the nation.

Education is an avenue for teaching young people about the importance of discipline, respect for authority and rules. These things can be taught easily when education is a right. However, if it is a privilege, then the prerogative will be on parents and guardians, yet some of them may not do this very well.

Education also facilitates the detection of dangerous situations like abuse and neglect in homes. It is imperative to make schooling a right in order to address these concerns.

Making education a right would cause adults to invest in their future professionals. Members of society require the services of doctors, lawyers, mechanics, and electricians. When schooling is a right, society would contribute towards the creation of such important members of society, so it should be treated as such.

Lastly, education creates an intelligent society that is highly democratic. In fact, former dictators (like Hitler) have tried to undermine education so as to oppress their followers. If education is turned into a privilege, then the democratic principles that this country boasts about would be severely undermined.

Students’ rights play a tremendous role in education because it is their needs that ought to be protected through schooling. Concerns about their ability to control or safeguard their lives have caused most stakeholders to advocate for compulsory schooling. Family rights also come into play because some households lack the financial capability of paying for their children’s education.

This means that an external structure ought to come into place in order to safeguard their rights. Lastly, societal rights contribute to education because one must consider the developmental and social needs of society. These can only be accommodated if all of society has access to at least a basic form of schooling.

Choice should come into play when free education starts to become ineffective or when parents need to safeguard their children against the pitfalls of the public system. Sometimes making education a right can lead to resource shortages, hence poor educational outcomes (Herbst, 2006). Parents should have the choice of taking their children to private schools if this is the case.

Sometimes parents may wish to teach their children certain values or focus on certain areas of specialty; this is where charter schools or private schools come into play. For instance, they may take their children to Catholic schools in order to teach them those religious values. Therefore, parents should have a choice when they wish to pursue greater efficiency or specialty.

Herbst, J. (2006). School choice and school governance: a historical study of the United States and Germany . New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Pre-Schooling Before Kindergarten Admission
  • American Charter Schools' Demand and Supply
  • Education and Schooling from Several Perspectives
  • Design Theories in education
  • Role of Education for Successful Careers
  • Internationalization of Education
  • Virtual Schooling Programs
  • Blended/Hybrid Classes Implementation
  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

IvyPanda. (2019, May 30). Education should be a right not a privilege.

"Education should be a right not a privilege." IvyPanda , 30 May 2019,

IvyPanda . (2019) 'Education should be a right not a privilege'. 30 May.

IvyPanda . 2019. "Education should be a right not a privilege." May 30, 2019.

1. IvyPanda . "Education should be a right not a privilege." May 30, 2019.


IvyPanda . "Education should be a right not a privilege." May 30, 2019.

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A 1st grade girl in rural Cambodia learns the meaning of "equal" in her math class Credit: GPE/Deepa Srikantaiah, 2012

Access to education is not a privilege, it’s a right. And yet, 61 million children are not in school, most of them girls. Educating children no matter where they are is one of the biggest steps we can take toward ending extreme poverty. The Global Partnership for Education is the only multilateral partnership devoted to getting all these children into school for a quality education. To make this happen, we work together with a diverse group of governments, civil society/non-governmental organizations, international organizations, private sector, and teachers.

Teachers are particularly important because learning happens between student and teacher. Take a look at one of our recent blog posts about Pov who has been working as a teacher in Cambodia for the past 25 years. She says: “Investing in education is investing in the future of the country and therefore should have high priority. It is not only important for economic reasons but also because we have a commitment to children to fulfill their right to education. This means that we have to find ways to include the children that are currently out of school. This means that we need more teachers, more classrooms, ongoing training for teachers, a variety of educational materials and an effective curriculum to make sure children can read and write when they leave school and that they are provided with the necessary basic skills to participate well in their communities.”

The Global Poverty Project’s video highlights that a child’s dreams can come true with the right education and that it is our joint responsibility to help children realize their dreams. We were proud to be a part of the Global Citizen Festival concert where this video premiered, and where GPE pledged $500 million for education in areas affected by conflict and humanitarian emergencies. After you’ve looked at the video, tell us why you think education is important, and get involved in our work to help children learn and grow.

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Talking about the education as a right or a privilege I would say that should be a RIGHT. In some countries it is, however we always need to spend some money on education. But I would say as well that in some other countries it is a PRIVILEGE. Getting back to the point, it should be a RIGHT until a certain age, because people must be conscientious that education as from family, society and life as from school is really necessary to a society be developed, to know how do we need to behave thinking about the future and the people who surround us. In other hand we are directly involved by education, because day-by-day we are learning new things new experiences. So on these points we can include bad things that we learn too, which mostly we think those are good and pleasurable things, but only at that moment. Getting this point I would say and include the Social Media as a bad influence to the new generate-education, I cannot explain why but I truly believe on this and I know this is true, because mostly of the time it influencing me, like music, I cannot stand without listen to music. So based on these points and other that were not mentioned, I totally agree with EDUCATION as a RIGHT. It is a part of the society.

In reply to Is education a Right or Privilege? by Victor Morais

I say it is a right because us kids we need,no it is our right to learn and get education.We need education!We have to get education!It is our right!

In reply to Right by Crystal

Sorry, but you can’t award yourself a “right” based upon your subjective feelings. In some countries, education is formally enshrined as a “right” to its citizens. In others, it is not. It all depends upon the Constitution of the particular nation or State.

It is and should be a privilege. Like anything with real value it should be earned. If it's just given away it no longer holds any value. Pretty basic;)

In reply to Privilege by foghead

Such a narrow view to consider education a privilege. The real value of education comes when it is offered to those who cannot afford it. The progress of mankind, can only be done if we offer education to all minds. This will create opportunities that will make everyone's life better. Just think at the return on the investment, if one kid, without access to education but brilliant, receives the education and through his work he discovers something that has the potential to improve everyone's life. And the downside... keep him in the dark. his mind will be wasted. how many opportunities haven't we waste? I think that education is not even a right... it is a necessity. Cheers.

In reply to about education by Lucian Fulger

I think educativo is a right and a priviledge people should be able to get an education no matter what their backgrownd is, but also they should value all the tools that they are given just by being respectivo with their teachers and classmates. Some Kiss just manipulate education yo their own individual benefit and take ir for grandes especialista trouble children with anger issues and such

Great post and we also took an initiative to support this truth!

The team of Principal Nation think that education must be available for all without discrimination. It must be affordable; in fact primary education must be free for those who need this. And it must be adaptable so that it meets the different circumstances and changing needs of each individual student. Our main motto is to expand early childhood and education. Provide free and compulsory primary education for all and Improve the quality of education. Underlying each of these goals there is recognition of and respect for the right to quality education. Full realization of the right to education is not merely a question of access. A rights-based approach to Education for All is a holistic one, encompassing access to education, educational quality (based on human rights values and principles) and the environment in which education is provided.

You can support them by making a contribution to the funds of Principal Nation Primary School. Help them to stop child labor. You can see there details at:

In reply to Education is a Right, Not a Privilege by Akash Roy

The perceived value of a product or service does not determine its status as a right or privilege. And there is absolutely no such thing as a “free” education. Teachers and staff are paid, construction labor and materials cost money as does routine maintenance. The money must be paid by someone. Education itself is a privilege. Equal access (i.e., non-discrimination) to these services is a right in most countries.

All humans deserve and education. Just because of your race, color, gender, or religion does not mean you don't have a future. Everyone has a right to an education, females tend to be a lot smarter then males. most kids want to go to school, and most kids would rather stay home. Just do what you got to do to get away and be an adult.

When I visited Kenya, I had about 8000 children around me begging me to find them sponsors so that they could go to school. In Kenya, the government does not even have schools (unless only for the children of government employees), much less pay for children to go. The only schools I saw were little tiny ones operated by humanitarian relief organizations like "World Vision" and "Compassion International" and also little individual pastors struggling to educate the children of their communities. It's very sad that Kenya is apparently one of the richest countries in Africa due to Safari business, but the government does not in any way whatsoever share that money with the extremely poor citizens of the country, but instead line their own pockets while the parents go without food, and blankets and clothing and roofs over the head, and the children are lucky if they get to sleep under a roof or get to eat one meal a day, much less go to school. I'd like to know what is being done about "the educational rights of children" in countries like Kenya.. and Uganda; (In Uganda, the gov't only pays 1/2 the cost so the vast vast majority of children can not go unless someone from a more privileged country like the USA hands them or the school the money to cover the rest. The schools which do exist are very few, held together by timbers and falling apart and generally run by pastors and such until the gov't, shuts them down but does not provide them with a dime to make them safer or build their own schools.) I'm sure there are many more countries like this. I am adapting an episode for a cartoon from another country right now, and I find it very sad that they talk about education as a right to all children, but do not talk about the fact that in many countries children CAN NOT go to school because the governments are so utterly corrupt or the country is just too poor.

You do not have the right to other people's labor or property. Education requires other people's labor and/or property (in the case of automated education). Therefore, education is not a right.

However, you certainly do have the right to seek an education. As with many other things, you have the right to try to get it, and other people have the right to give it to you, but you do not have the right to get it.

In reply to Default Subject by <<<>>>

Actually, the United Nations enshrined education as a right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948. See article 26 of the Declaration here:

In short education is education

nice information keep sharing,nice article

Kids should have an education, it is nothing to discuss. the kids from today are the future and if they don't have an education our society and economy will be the one affected.

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Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

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Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

EDITORIAL: Education is a privilege, not a right

Abigail Puketza , Staff Writer | February 28, 2019


Abigail Puketza

In America, the gift of knowledge has been watered down by tests, homework, and the constant pressure to succeed. KC writer Abigail Puketza discusses a solution.

The importance of education in today’s society has been pushed under the rug. When asked to list what they are thankful for, knowledge is not usually found on an average person’s list. In reality, education in America is something that is taken for granted and seen as a right instead of a privilege.

Without education, the completion of day-to-day activities would not be feasible due to basic skills like reading, writing, and math being the foundations of society. Americans are extremely lucky to have the public school system, a luxury not available to many poor countries. Americans take this gift of education for granted and do not truly appreciate what they have, which leads to a lack of interest in the material taught in schools; what was once exciting becomes monotonous. Looking at high school education as a whole, it becomes apparent that its flaws are creating wounds in America’s youth, and the fact that students see school as a chore instead of an opportunity to learn is causing the dilution of knowledge.

Part of this problem stems from the fact that public schools put an unhealthy amount of emphasis on performance and add undue pressure on their students. It is safe to say that almost every student across the country struggles with school-related stress. Teachers of high-level classes pile on hours of homework a night, causing some kids to have to stay up until midnight or later in order to complete all their homework due to their other obligations such as sports, clubs, theater, chores, work, and other activities that steal time away from their day. An immense amount of pressure is put on students by teachers and parents alike to get perfect grades so they can go to elite colleges in order to get high paying jobs.

Students study the material taught to them so they can get an A on the test and an A in the class, not because they are intrigued by new information or want to broaden their knowledge. Some parents get upset at their children when they receive a B on a quiz or test. A B is nowhere near a failing grade, but many parents see it as less than perfect so they scold their children and make them afraid to fail. This unhealthy standard of perfection produces two different types of students: hardworking and diligent ones, or more often, ones who cut corners to get ahead.

When a student cheats on a quiz, test, or even homework, they are only hurting themselves. Copying one homework assignment might not seem like a big deal. Students have packed schedules, and a ten point math worksheet is not high on their totem pole of priorities. However, one worksheet turns into one test they did not have time to study for, or a quiz on a topic they did not feel like reviewing. The pressure from parents to get straight As and from teachers to prepare for college applications can cause an upstanding student to compromise on his or her morals.

Since the public school system’s view on education has become askew, students see the homework and tests as pointless, annoying, and an overall burden. Even if the student is at the top of their class, in all Advanced Placement courses, and on their way to an Ivy League school, most of their conversations consist of complaints about a teacher or a test they took in the previous period. Hard work and perseverance is what produces good character, and when one aspect of a person’s character is compromised, like integrity by cheating on a test, it can have lasting effects.

Constantly cutting corners becomes a bad habit that will stick with a person for the rest of his or her life. This willingness to take a shortcut to get ahead causes the importance of education to become watered down and ends up harming the student, if not in the moment then later on in their lives when they are faced with difficulty in the workplace and do not know how to face it head on and persevere.

Education used to be something that was exciting and inspiring. In kindergarten, every time I went to the library, I would check out a different nonfiction book about a different kind of animal. In elementary school, students were excited and curious about reading, but now teachers can barely get students to read a book assigned in class.

The pure passion of learning has been washed away by the pressure and stress that school causes. Students settle for Sparknotes, and therefore miss out on the new knowledge that the opening of a book brings. By taking shortcuts, students accept their fate and settle for average. Being passionate about what is learned is essential to the success of students. Students need to relearn the art of finding “delight” in what they learn so that they are eager and excited to go to class every day.

Students are much more motivated to give their one hundred percent when they find enjoyment in what they are doing, like when they were in elementary school. However, this is not the case, so education becomes a stumbling block that harms the student when he or she does not take responsibility for education and cuts corners.

The only way to solve this problem is to change the way the material is taught in school and to change how school itself is perceived. First of all, not every kid is going to fall in love with every subject. We each have our own strengths. So, students should have more freedom to choose the classes they enjoy participating in. If a student’s strength is math, then they should not be forced to take world history, and vice versa. Students should also have more freedom in what books they read, because when I am excited about a book, I cannot put it down. I have not felt that way about a book assigned to me in school since middle school. Yes, the classics are important, but every book should not be force-fed down our throats.

Secondly, the way school is viewed needs to change, which will start to happen once there is more fluidity in the curriculum. Students see school now as a burden, but if the homework load is decreased, not as many assignments are graded, and pressure from parents is diminished, then students will find joy in school and find that childlike curiosity that has been lost over the years of tests and homework.

This will not be an overnight shift, but if we take small steps, one day education will not be a seen as pointed at students, and we can really appreciate the amazing gift we have.

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Debbie • Jul 5, 2019 at 11:52 pm

Being from the US and a witness to the inequities of institutional racism and sexism I whole heartedly disagree with you. In our very wealthy society education was used as a means to keep people subservient. Poor schools lacked resources thus perpetuating inequities which translated to social inequity. If you were poor it was a way of keeping you poor. Yes we view a lot of things as entitlement but education is in the books as a civil right because President Johnson as a former teacher understood inequity and said all persons in a democracy should be educated and President Obama added to President Johnson’s mandate that all students should graduate ready for college or career. Yes we have overworked students yes we have inadequately prepared teachers but that does not mean we do not value education.

Tanakah Admire Chamaida • Jun 2, 2019 at 11:17 am

Being born and bred in a society where everyone believes in education as a tool and a key to success doesnt qualifies it to be a right.After a strong realisation that in Zimbabwe it was made a constitutional right after they want to disqualify and qualify some individuals in certain aspects.But being a constitutional right doesnt make it a real right.Education is a priviledge not a right.

Yusuf Amin • Feb 28, 2019 at 12:20 pm It couldn’t have been verbalized and agreeably more from us, consciously and/or unconsciously.

Education is not a privilege, it’s a legal right

  • 5 November 2018 (updated on: 28 July 2022 )
  • By: Stefania Giannini

By Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director General for Education, UNESCO

Education is like a seed. And for this empowering right to flourish and grow, it must have the best conditions. Education must not only be accessible to all, it must be of the highest quality. And it is not a privilege to be bestowed by a government, it is a legal right for everyone – children, youth and adults.

This looks good on paper yet is far from being a reality for millions around the world. Today less than 1 in 5 countries legally guarantee 12 years of free and compulsory education.

As we mark the 70th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there are still 262 million children out of school, and more than 750 million youth and adults unable to read and write. This is unacceptable and countries must ensure that the millions of people left behind have access to the powerful seed of education they are entitled to.

That is why UNESCO has launched a new #RightToEducation digital campaign to focus global attention on this crucial issue and make the right to education a priority everywhere.

There are many things blocking the road – legal, economic, social and cultural barriers. We must remove them all and ensure that countries that have signed up to international conventions and agreements are putting them into practice. They must be held accountable.

The 2017/8 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report showed the importance of accountability in addressing persistent education problems, which starts with governments, as primary duty bearers of the right to education. It stressed the fact that citizens who know about their rights may be able to challenge violations made by governments in court, but found that this is possible only in 55% of countries.

What is happening in your country?

Now you know that education is a human right protected by law and guaranteed to all by the State, how is your country advancing this right? You can check by using UNESCO’s global Observatory which provides valuable data of the right to education in 195 Member States. And you can engage in making education a reality for everyone.

Join UNESCO’s campaign and speak up for the voiceless.

Everyone can make a difference – students, parents, teachers, journalists, policy-makers, lawyers and more – by changing mindsets, sharing powerful messages, influencing decision-making, supporting peers and standing up for the rights of others when it comes to education.

Simple everyday actions can have a big impact. Here are some ideas on how to get involved. Use the power of your social networks to spread the word. Think of creative ways to advance the right to education in your school and community. Above all, make sure that the seed continues to grow and that its fruits are available to everyone, everywhere.

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It is a relevant and well-documented call. Unfortunately, in most countries, political and economic reasons support educational policies aimed at perpetuating the status quo and inequality. The universalization of high quality education as a right for all (not an obligation, only an opportunity), including all levels from pre-school to postgraduate, should be a global challenge led by organizations such as Unesco.

In America, even though we avoid this question, Education is not a constitutional right. There are many Conservatives who believe it is an earned privilege, which is why they have been emphasizing home schooling, vouchers, charter schools et al—to create an educational system for students who are sufficiently advantaged or who have earned admittance to programs by their demonstrated ability. This leaves the most economically and socially disadvantaged students in dire educational situations—failing situations—and their are Republican state legislators in our country who believe we should stop “wasting taxpayer dollars” on these failing schools. American Conservatives, the vast majority of whom claim to be Christians, will continue to turn their backs on the poor, and there is nothing to stop them legally. In the USA, education is NOT a legal right.

  • Pingback: 07 – Human Rights – Caroline's Blog

Itis not enough to put these rights in delaratinos orlaws,put more important than that is to have the powerful will and determination to put it inpractice and make it a-daily-felt realty.

I completely agree with you, education is not a privilege, but a legal right. It’s very important that everyone can get it, as this is the key to a successful future. In our time in the field of education, there are many changes and innovations to make the educational process easier and more effective. There are many applications for learning languages ​​and other subjects, as well as services that make reviews of student assistance companies, like this one All this to make children and students feel safe and supported in the educational process.

Perfect..”Education is not a privilege, it’s a legal rights”. But many peoples or counties makes education is a profitable business and they are running or ruling in this sector.

I support that education is our passport cause tomorrow Wait’s for no man..

Our ancestors didn’t have education. They were hunter gatherers in Africa and sure they told legends and stories but why do I have to go somewhere I don’t want to be when I could be doing better things.

  • Pingback: GOP Rep: Education Should Be a ‘Privilege’, Not a Right - Reverb Press 📈

Absolutely agree. I would like to share that Indonesia commits to provide access to education for all citizens, including those who live in remote places and islands. In the past, we may hear ‘students go to schools/colleges’, but now it becomes the schools/colleges go to student houses” through distance learning system.

Education is not a privilege, it’s a legal right!!! Absolutely agree.

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argumentative essay about education is a privilege not a right


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Education: Privilege, not right by Sophina

Sophina's entry into Varsity Tutor's January 2021 scholarship contest

Education: Privilege, not right by Sophina - January 2021 Scholarship Essay

If you asked anyone today when given this question, they would say education is a right. But if you asked someone during the American Revolutionary war, they would say education is a privilege. The biggest difference between the periods is that education is widespread and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone in this world. With the helpful invention of technology, more structured governments, and easy communication, we can’t imagine today without being able to read. Almost everyone takes it for granted. Many public schools even have high dropout rates because the students think school is a chore, not an opportunity. Our day-to-day activities rely on basic literacy and mathematical skills, so what if no one got an education? Education is a privilege, despite arguments made to make it a natural right because we could still live without education. By saying it is a right, it means humans can’t live without it. But in the 1700s, the literacy rate was only about 50%, the other half of the population managed without it.

First, let’s clarify the difference between a right and privilege. A privilege is something earned, entitled by certain circumstances. A right is an inherent entitlement from birth; you’re just supposed to have it. An example of a right would be found in one of America’s most celebrated documents; the Constitution. The founding fathers considered life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness inalienable rights granted by God that the government must protect. Do you see the word education? It wasn’t considered a right because it was unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Education was optional, certainly had its benefits, but it was a privilege. You either had to be born into a rich family, or work for it, but you could still live without it. Today, it is a constitutional right, but not necessarily a natural right. Think about the difference between the types of rights. Is natural right the same as a constitutional right?

When I was younger, reading was something I looked forward to. Education was exciting, even inspiring and I used to wake up earlier than my parents to go to school. Nowadays, teachers have a hard time even getting their students to read an assigned book. Any high school student can relate to the pain of waking up for school. The way school is perceived is forced. We are so used to the idea that education has to be given to us; we have the right to refuse since it is offered without fail. People forget that education wasn’t always available because we feel that it is obligated that the government offers it to us.

I cannot emphasize enough that education is a privilege. We have cultures around the world that refuse to educate others. The phrase “knowledge is power” has never held more true in today’s society. If education truly was a human right for everybody, then why are 14% of the population illiterate today? Maybe in developed countries such as America and the UK, receiving an education is not a struggle, but others have to fight for it. The concept of education comes from humans receiving knowledge. And even though knowledge is not necessary, it is incredibly helpful. As Nelson Mandela says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”


argumentative essay about education is a privilege not a right

This House believes that university education is a right not a privilege

The Oxford Union’s third official debate of Michaelmas term was a lively and at times confused affair, with the participants debating not only the merits of going to university, but also arguing over the semantics of the motion and even the merits of well-known TV programmes.

The first speaker for the proposition was Geraldine Van Bueren, a leading professor of International Human Rights Law at Queen Mary, University of London. “University education has started to be seen a privilege,” she began, “and privilege and equal opportunity do not go hand in hand.” Pointing to declining numbers of mature students, the professor brought up the examples of France and Austria, where university education costs hundreds of euros, and Denmark and Sweden, where it’s free.

Barnaby Lenon, former Head Master of Harrow School and Chairman of the Independent Schools Council, was the first speaker for the opposition. He opened by arguing that this issue is a product of the “everyone must now win prizes” mentality following the Second World War.  Mr. Lenon also argued that some degrees were not worth their value, suggesting “200,000 students getting degrees in business would be better off getting a job in a business.” He finished by warning against the notion of “equality of outcome,” saying: “Selection by ability has become taboo, but the idea of “excellence for all” is nonsense.”

The second speaker for the proposition, Will Hutton, began his argument by saying that “universities should be part of the society from which the originate, and not be above it.” He quoted £8,400 as the current average university student’s debt upon completing their degree, and said that “this will deter more and more people from entering higher education.” He also took direct aim at Mr. Lenon’s disapproval of degrees such as Communications, Business, and Marketing, and labelled the argument that universities should be more selective as a “siren call that would prevent people from common backgrounds from entering university.”

Tim Waterstone, second speaker for the opposition and the founder of the eponymous chain of book shops, first set out by defining the term “right”:

“No one has the right to be a scholar. You do have the right not to be discriminated against, but there is no guarantee to go to university.” He distinguished higher education from primary and secondary, which is free and accessible, “Children need to become aware of their rights, the consequences of their choices, and attention from society against adverse circumstances of birth.”

Aaron Porter, former President of the NUS, hit back forcefully against both Mr. Lenon and Mr. Waterstone, arguing that “the benefits of university education are for the whole society and the economy – it shouldn’t be linked to just a career path.” Mr. Porter also added, though “the argument about higher education shouldn’t be just about higher tuition fees,” he did believe “this plays a role in restricting the promotion of highly motivated individuals.”

The third speaker for the opposition, and perhaps the most anticipated of the night, was Spencer Matthews, the main star of the reality show Made in Chelsea, whose speech was hastily written on one side of a sheet of paper with the help of Union officers before the debate. Mr. Matthews posed the opening question, “Is university really for everyone?” He gave the example of his father and brother, “who didn’t go to university and turned out just fine.” He also raised doubts about the seriousness with which university education is pursued. “Would the state be proud of Jamie Lang, going to Leeds, hammered every day?” he asked, in reference to co-star in Made in Chelsea.

David Willetts began his speech as the fourth speaker on the proposition side with the claim that “the two biggest lies of tonight’s debate is that something should be a right for a minority, funded by general taxes, and that university access should necessarily be restricted to fewer numbers.” The Minister of State for Universities and Science claimed: “The adoption of the Robbins’ principle led to the obligation for funding universities to fall on the generality – that is, taxpayers – paying for a larger graduates, which can’t be fair.” At this point, however, Willett’s speech was interrupted by a group on the balcony which unfurled a large white banner above the Union Floor, onto which were painted the words “FUCK YOU DAVID WILLETTS (AND MADE IN CHELSEA IS SHIT TOO).”

Stephen Dorrell, MP for Charnwood, who was the last speaker on the opposition, concluded the debate by saying that “the last thing we need is for a human rights lawyer to swoop in and tell us how to run a government.” He added that human rights “is a fine basis to ensure basic rights,” but “not a good basis for policy-making.” He criticised Professor Van Bueren’s stance as “unenforceable with regard to universities.”

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Understanding education as a right, 116328scr_india_pupils.jpg.

argumentative essay about education is a privilege not a right

Education is not a privilege. It is a human right.

Education as a human right means:

  • the right to education is legally guaranteed for all without any discrimination
  • states have the obligation to protect, respect, and fulfil the right to education
  • there are ways to hold states accountable for violations or deprivations of the right to education

Human rights are inherent to all human beings, regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. They cannot be given or taken away.

Human rights are the foundation for freedom, justice and peace in the world.

They are formally and universally recognised by all countries in the  Universal Declaration on Human Rights  (1948, UDHR). Since the adoption of the UDHR, many treaties have been adopted by states to reaffirm and guarantee these rights legally.

International human rights law sets out the obligations of states to respect, protect, and fulfil human rights for all. These obligations impose specific duties upon states, regardless of their political, economic, and cultural systems.

All human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent, and interrelated ( Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action , 1993, para. 5).

Equality and non-discrimination are foundational and cross-cutting principles in international human rights law. This means that all human rights apply to everyone.

International human rights law guarantees the right to education. The  Universal Declaration on Human Rights , adopted in 1948, proclaims in Article 26: 'everyone has the right to education'.

Since then, the right to education has been widely recognised and developed by a number of international normative instruments elaborated by the United Nations, including the  International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966, CESCR), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989, CRC), and the  UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education  (1960, CADE).

The right to education has also been reaffirmed in other treaties covering specific groups ( women and girls , persons with disabilities , migrants, refugees , Indigenous Peoples , etc.) and contexts ( education during armed conflicts ). It has also been incorporated into various regional treaties and enshrined as a right in the vast majority of national constitutions.

See our pages on international law and national implementation  for more information.

Both individuals and society benefit from the right to education. It is fundamental for human, social, and economic development and a key element to achieving lasting peace and sustainable development. It is a powerful tool in developing the full potential of everyone and ensuring human dignity, and in promoting individual and collective wellbeing.

  • it is an empowerment right
  • it lifts marginalised groups out of poverty
  • it is an indispensable means of realising other rights
  • it contributes to the full development of the human personality

For more details, see the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights'  General Comment 13 on the right to education  (1999, para. 1).

The right to education encompasses both entitlements and freedoms, including the:

right to free and compulsory primary education

right to available and accessible secondary education (including technical and vocational education and training), made progressively free

right to equal access to higher education on the basis of capacity made progressively free

right to fundamental education for those who have not received or completed primary education

right to quality education both in public and private schools

freedom of parents to choose schools for their children which are in conformity with their religious and moral convictions

freedom of individuals and bodies to establish and direct education institutions in conformity with minimum standards established by the state

academic freedom of teachers and students

The 4As were developed by the first UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Katarina Tomaševski, and adopted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in its General Comment 13 on the right to education  (1999, para.6). To be a meaningful right, education in all its forms and at all levels shall exhibit these interrelated and essential features:

Available – Education is free and there is adequate infrastructure and trained teachers able to support the delivery of education.

Accessible – The education system is non-discriminatory and accessible to all, and positive steps are taken to include the most marginalised.

Acceptable – The content of education is relevant, non-discriminatory and culturally appropriate, and of quality; schools are safe and teachers are professional.

Adaptable – Education evolves with the changing needs of society and challenges inequalities, such as gender discrimination; education adapts to suit locally specific needs and contexts.

For more details see:

  • Primer 3  Human rights obligations: making education available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable (RTE, Katarina Tomaševski, 2001)

When a state has ratified a treaty that guarantees the right to education, it has obligations to respect, protect, and fulfil this right. Some obligations are immediate. Others are progressive.

Obligations to respect, protect, and fulfil:

  • respect: refrain from interfering with the enjoyment of the right (e.g., the state must respect the liberty of parents to choose schools for their children)
  • protect: prevent others from interfering with the enjoyment of the right usually through regulation and legal guarantees (e.g., the state must ensure that third parties, including parents, do not prevent girls from going to school)
  • fulfil: adopt appropriate measures towards the full realisation of the right to education (e.g., the state must take positive measures to ensure that education is culturally appropriate for minorities and indigenous peoples, and of good quality for all)

Immediate and progressive obligations:

As with other economic, social and cultural rights, the full realisation of the right to education can be hampered by a lack of resources and can be achieved only over a period of time, particularly for countries with fewer resources. This is the reason why some state obligations are progressive, for instance, the introduction of free secondary and higher education.

However, no matter how limited resources are, all states have immediate obligations to implement the following aspects of right to education:

  • ensure minimum core obligations to meet the essential levels of the right to education, which includes prohibiting discrimination in access to and in education, ensuring free and compulsory primary education for all, respecting the liberty of parents to choose schools for their children other than those established by public authorities, protecting the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions
  • take appropriate steps towards the full realisation of the right to education to the maximum of its available resources. A lack of resources cannot justify inaction or indefinite postponement of measures to implement the right to education. States must demonstrate they are making every effort to improve the enjoyment of the right to education, even when resources are scarce
  • not take retrogressive measures. This means that the state should not take backwards steps or adopt measures that will repeal existing guarantees of the right to education. For instance, introducing school fees in secondary education when it had formerly been free of charge would constitute a retrogressive measure

States have the primary duty to ensure the right to education. However, other actors play a key role in promoting and protecting this fundamental right.

According to international law, other actors have responsibilities in upholding the right to education:

  • the role of multilateral intergovernmental agencies, such as UNESCO, OHCHR, UNICEF, is of particular importance in relation to the realisation of the right to education in providing technical and financial assistance
  • international financial institutions should play greater attention to the protection of the right to education in their policies, credit agreements, structural adjustment programmes and measures taken in response to the debt crisis
  • private businesses also have the responsibility to respect human rights and avoid infringing on the rights of others. For more information, see UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights , Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights' General Comment 24 , Committee on the Rights of the Child's  General Comment 16 , and our page on Privatisation
  • civil society plays a crucial role in promoting the right to education and holding the state accountable for its obligations
  • parents have the responsibility to ensure that their children attend compulsory education. They cannot deny their children access to education

Violations of the right to education may occur through direct action of States parties (act of commission) or through their failure to take steps required by law (act of omission). Concrete examples are given in paragraph 59 of General Comment 13 .

Whilst the vast majority of countries have ratified international treaties that recognise the full right to education, it is still denied to millions around the world due to lack of resources, capacity, and political will. There are still countries that have not integrated the right to education into their national constitution or provided the legislative and administrative frameworks to ensure that the right to education is realised in practice. Most of the children and adults who do not fully enjoy the right to education belong to the most deprived and marginalised groups of society which are often left behind in national policies.

  • raise awareness on the right to education. If individuals knows their rights they are empowered to claim them
  • monitor the implementation of the right to education and report regularly on deprivations and violations
  • advocate and campaign for the full implementation of the right to education, holding the state accountable
  • seek remedies when there are violations of the right to education

See our page on Using rights in practice  for more details on what you can do.

argumentative essay about education is a privilege not a right

Education: a right or a privilege?

June 16, 2020.

argumentative essay about education is a privilege not a right

Image by AkshayaPatra Foundation from Pixabay

Ahmad Rosa sheds light on the lessons children all around the world need to learn

Lockdown has interrupted many aspects of our daily lives, which we often take for granted – meeting regularly with our friends and family, public events, and even going to the store! For young people, online classes and assignments have become the new normal. While we’ve been trying to adjust to this different way of learning, the time in lockdown has also given us a chance to consider how we might improve our education system and tackle some of the fundamental issues within it.

Born and brought up in Pakistan, a country containing the world’s second highest rate of out-of-school children worldwide after Nigeria, I have always been conditioned to acknowledge that my education was a privilege. Why? Because over 50% of 5 to 16-year-olds in Pakistan are deprived of it.

As of 2016, 14% of the global population are unable to read, write and access the simplest forms of education. What’s more, the majority of these illiterate people are girls, with many cultures refusing to value educating women.

“People from more economically developed countries can never fully appreciate the struggle of those from lesser developed places

According to the Cambridge dictionary , a privilege is:

an advantage that only one person or group of people has, usually because of their position or because they are rich

Based on this definition, education has to be viewed as a privilege as it’s only available to people living in more developed nations. Here is another interesting fact. Only one in five countries provide their citizens with a minimum of 12 years of free education.

People from more economically developed countries can never fully appreciate the struggle of those from lesser developed places.

For young people living in the UK, education is a basic right that they receive almost from birth. This is certainly not the case when it comes to young people from less privileged countries. Some have to go through a deadly struggle in order to be educated.

Many young girls bravely choose to go to school and risk their lives to receive basic education – a privilege they desperately want to have

Take Malala Yousafzai as an example. She was threatened with death by one of the most dangerous world organisations: the Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist movement. But despite their intimidation and even after being shot in the head by them, Malala still fought for her right to be educated. This resilience not only allowed her to achieve high-quality education for herself, but for many others like her across the globe. Malala became their voice, winning a Nobel prize for human rights activism.

One reason why girls are prohibited from going to school in certain cultures is the lack of security. When security is poor, crimes such as rape are commonplace.

Still, many young girls bravely choose to go to school and risk their lives to receive basic education – a privilege they desperately want to have.

The reality is that if education were a human right for all, these girls wouldn’t have to risk their dignity and lives in order to learn how to read and write.

Many students, privileged enough to receive an education however, often fail to see it as an advantage and regard it as a burden instead.

The reasons for this are numerous, but one is the heavy emphasis on performance which makes going through the education system feel more like a chore. Arguably, the nucleus of the problem is that the education system currently revolves around ensuring students obtain the best grades possible, rather than instilling a passion for learning within them.

Being educated means being informed about the injustices plaguing innocent individuals around the world

Yes, students need to be educated on important subjects like Maths, English and Science but they also need to be taught vital life lessons. One of them is the idea that education remains a privilege and that many across the globe are denied it.

Knowing this not only promotes crucial understanding amongst young people, but empowers them to fight for a world where the privilege of education becomes a basic human right everywhere.

Being educated means being informed about the injustices plaguing innocent individuals around the world.

What is significant about the concept of human rights, is that they exist due to us being human – a fact not known by millions because of a lack of education.

We deserve to be educated. And we deserve to have education as a human right instead of a selective privilege.

I conclude with the memorable words of Nelson Mandela:

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

This article was produced in partnership with political and media literacy organisation:

argumentative essay about education is a privilege not a right

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Is Education a Fundamental Right?

argumentative essay about education is a privilege not a right

Before sunrise on a morning just after Labor Day, 1977, Humberto and Jackeline Alvarez, Felix Hernandez, Rosario and Jose Robles, and Lidia and Jose Lopez huddled together in the basement of the United States Courthouse in Tyler, Texas , the Rose City, to decide just how much they were willing to risk for the sake of their children, for the sake of other people’s children, and for the sake, really, of everyone. Among them, the Alvarezes, Hernandez, the Robleses, and the Lopezes had sixteen children who, the week before, had been barred from entering Tyler’s public schools by order of James Plyler, Tyler’s school superintendent. On the first day of school, Rosario Robles had walked her five children to Bonner Elementary, where she was met by the principal, who asked her for the children’s birth certificates, and, when she couldn’t provide them, put her and the kids in his car and drove them home.

This hadn’t been the principal’s idea, or even Plyler’s. In 1975, when Texas passed a law allowing public schools to bar undocumented immigrants, Plyler ignored it. “I guess I was soft-hearted and concerned about the kids,” he said. Also, there weren’t many of them. About sixteen thousand children went to the schools in the East Texas city of Tyler, which considered itself the rose-growing capital of America and was named for John Tyler, the President of the United States who had pushed for the annexation of Texas in 1844, which led to a war with Mexico in 1846. Of those sixteen thousand students, fewer than sixty were the children of parents who had, without anyone’s permission, entered the United States from Mexico by crossing a border established in 1848, when the war ended with a treaty that turned the top half of Mexico into the bottom third of the United States. Jose Robles worked in a pipe factory. Humberto Alvarez worked in a meatpacking plant. They paid rent. They owned cars. They paid taxes. They grew roses.

Nevertheless, in July of 1977 Tyler’s school board, worried that Tyler would become a haven for immigrants driven away from other towns, insisted that undocumented children be kicked out of the city’s schools unless their parents paid a thousand dollars a year, per child, which few of them could afford, not even the Robleses, who owned their own home. Turned away from Bonner Elementary, the Robleses sent some of their kids to a local Catholic school—Jose did yard work in exchange for tuition—but they were put in touch with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which sent an attorney, Peter Roos, who filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Eastern District Court of Texas. It was presided over by a judge whose name was Justice. “There were two judges in Tyler,” Roos liked to say. “You got Justice, or no justice.”

Participating in a lawsuit as an undocumented immigrant is a very risky proposition. In a closed-door meeting, Roos asked that the parents be allowed to testify in chambers and so avoid revealing their identities, which could lead to deportation. They had come to the courthouse knowing that, at any moment, they could be arrested, and driven to Mexico, without so much as a goodbye. Judge William Wayne Justice refused to grant the protective order. “I am a United States magistrate and if I learn of a violation of the law, it’s my sworn duty to disclose it to the authorities,” he said. Roos went down to the basement, near the holding cells, to inform the families and give them a chance to think it over. They decided to go ahead with the suit, come what may. Justice did make efforts to protect them from publicity, and from harassment, decreeing that the proceeding would start before dawn, to keep the press and the public at bay, and that the plaintiffs’ names would be withheld.

Roos filed a motion requesting that the children be allowed to attend school, without paying tuition, while the case unfolded, which was expected to take years. “An educated populace is the basis of our democratic institutions,” his brief argued, citing Brown v. Board of Education. “A denial of educational opportunities is repugnant to our notions that an informed and educated citizenry is necessary to our society.” The case was docketed as Doe v. Plyler. “This is one that’s headed for the United States Supreme Court,” Justice told his clerk. Five years later, the appeal, Plyler v. Doe , went to Washington.

Some Supreme Court decisions are famous. Some are infamous. Brown v. Board, Roe v. Wade. But Plyler v. Doe? It’s not any kind of famous. Outside the legal academy, where it is generally deemed to be of limited significance, the case is little known. (Earlier this year, during testimony before Congress, Betsy DeVos , the Secretary of Education, appeared not to have heard of it.) The obscurity of the case might end soon, though, not least because the Court’s opinion in Plyler v. Doe addressed questions that are central to ongoing debates about both education and immigration and that get to the heart of what schoolchildren and undocumented migrants have in common: vulnerability.

Plyler is arguably a controlling case in Gary B. v. Snyder, a lawsuit filed against the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, by seven Detroit schoolchildren, for violating their constitutional right to an education. According to the complaint, “illiteracy is the norm” in the Detroit public schools; they are the most economically and racially segregated schools in the country and, in formal assessments of student proficiency, have been rated close to zero. In Brown, the Court had described an education as “a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.” But the Detroit plaintiffs also cite Plyler, in which the majority deemed illiteracy to be “an enduring disability,” identified the absolute denial of education as a violation of the equal-protection clause, and ruled that no state can “deny a discrete group of innocent children the free public education that it offers to other children residing within its borders.” Dismissed by a district court in June, the case is now headed to the Sixth Circuit on appeal.

Plyler’s reach extends, too, to lawsuits filed this summer on behalf of immigrant children who were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. In June, the Texas State Teachers Association called on the governor of the state to make provisions for the education of the detained children, before the beginning of the school year, but has so far received no reply. Thousands of children are being held in more than a hundred detention centers around the country, many run by for-profit contractors. Conditions vary, but, on the whole, instruction is limited and supplies are few. “The kids barely learn anything,” a former social worker reported from Arizona.

Court-watchers have tended to consider Plyler insignificant because the Court’s holding was narrow. But in “ The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind ” (Pantheon) Justin Driver, a law professor at the University of Chicago, argues that this view of Plyler is wrong. “Properly understood,” Driver writes, “it rests among the most egalitarian, momentous, and efficacious constitutional opinions that the Supreme Court has issued throughout its entire history.”

Driver is not alone in this view. In “ No Undocumented Child Left Behind ” (2012), the University of Houston law professor Michael A. Olivas called Plyler “the apex of the Court’s treatment of the undocumented.” In “ Immigration Outside the Law ” (2014), the U.C.L.A. law professor Hiroshi Motomura compared Plyler to Brown and described its influence as “fundamental, profound, and enduring.” Even people who think the case hasn’t been influential wish it had been. “Plyler v. Doe may be irrelevant in a strictly legal sense,” the legal journalist Linda Greenhouse wrote last year, “but there are strong reasons to resurrect its memory and ponder it today.” Because, for once, our tired, our poor, our huddled masses—the very littlest of them—breathed free.

Laura Alvarez, ten years old, rode in the family’s battered station wagon to the courthouse in Tyler, for a hearing held on September 9, 1977, at six in the morning. (During a related Texas case—later consolidated with Plyler—a nine-year-old girl spoke to the judge in chambers and told him that, since being barred from school, the only learning she was getting came from poring over the homework done by a younger sibling—an American citizen.) In Tyler, the assistant attorney general for the State of Texas showed up wearing bluejeans. She’d flown in late the night before, and had lost her luggage. After an attorney from the Carter Administration said that the Justice Department would not pursue the litigants while the trial proceeded, during which time the students would be able to attend school, Judge Justice issued the requested injunction.

Witnesses presented testimony about economies: educating these children cost the state money, particularly because they needed special English-language instruction, but not educating these children would be costly, too, in the long term, when they became legal residents but, uneducated, would be able to contribute very little to the tax base. The Judge had a policy preference: “The predictable effects of depriving an undocumented child of an education are clear and undisputed. Already disadvantaged as a result of poverty, lack of English-speaking ability, and undeniable racial prejudices, these children, without an education, will become permanently locked into the lowest socio-economic class.” But the question didn’t turn on anyone’s policy preferences; it turned on the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, guarantees certain rights to “citizens” and makes two promises to “persons”: it prohibits a state from depriving “any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” and prohibits a state from denying “any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Before Plyler, the Supreme Court had established that the due-process clause applied to undocumented immigrants, who are, plainly, “persons,” but it had not established that the equal-protection clause extended to them, and the State of Texas said that it didn’t, because undocumented immigrants were in the state illegally. Judge Justice disagreed. “People who have entered the United States, by whatever means, are ‘within its jurisdiction’ in that they are within the territory of the United States and subject to its laws,” he wrote.

But how to apply that clause? The courts bring a standard known as “strict scrutiny” to laws that abridge a “fundamental right,” like the right to life, liberty, and property, and to laws that discriminate against a particular class of people, a “suspect class,” like the freed slaves in whose interest the amendment was originally written—that is, any population burdened with disabilities “or subjected to such a history of purposeful unequal treatment, or relegated to such a position of political powerlessness as to command extraordinary protection from the majoritarian political process.”

Is education a fundamental right? The Constitution, drafted in the summer of 1787, does not mention a right to education, but the Northwest Ordinance, passed by Congress that same summer, held that “religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” By 1868 the constitutions of twenty-eight of the thirty-two states in the Union had provided for free public education, open to all. Texas, in its 1869 constitution, provided for free public schooling for “all the inhabitants of this State,” a provision that was revised to exclude undocumented immigrants only in 1975.

Justice skirted the questions of whether education is a fundamental right and whether undocumented immigrants are a suspect class. Instead of applying the standard of “strict scrutiny” to the Texas law, he applied the lowest level of scrutiny to the law, which is known as the “rational basis test.” He decided that the Texas law failed this test. The State of Texas had argued that the law was rational because undocumented children are expensive to educate—they often require bilingual education, free meals, and even free clothing. But, Justice noted, so are other children, including native-born children, and children who have immigrated legally, and their families are not asked to bear the cost of their special education. As to why Texas had even passed such a law, he had two explanations, both cynical: “Children of illegal aliens had never been explicitly afforded any judicial protection, and little political uproar was likely to be raised in their behalf.”

In September, 1978, Justice ruled in favor of the children. Not long afterward, a small bouquet arrived at his house, sent by three Mexican workers. Then came the hate mail. A man from Lubbock wrote, on the back of a postcard, “Why in the hell don’t you illegally move to mexico?”

“The Schoolhouse Gate” is the first book-length history of Supreme Court cases involving the constitutional rights of schoolchildren, a set of cases that, though often written about, have never before been written about all together, as if they constituted a distinct body of law. In Driver’s view, “the public school has served as the single most significant site of constitutional interpretation within the nation’s history.” Millions of Americans spend most of their days in public schools—miniature states—where liberty, equality, rights, and privileges are matters of daily struggle. Schools are also, not incidentally, where Americans learn about liberty, equality, rights, and privileges. “The schoolroom is the first opportunity most citizens have to experience the power of government,” Justice John Paul Stevens once wrote.

The Supreme Court paid relatively little attention to public schools until after the Second World War, but, since then, it has ruled on a slew of cases. Do students have First Amendment rights? In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), the Court said yes. Three students had sued when they were suspended for wearing black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. In a 7–2 opinion, the Court sided with the students, affirming that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” and that public schools, though not democracies, “may not be enclaves of totalitarianism,” either. Justice Hugo Black issued a heated dissent. “It may be that the Nation has outworn the old-fashioned slogan that ‘children are to be seen not heard,’ ” he wrote, but he hoped it was still true that we “send children to school on the premise that at their age they need to learn, not teach.” A still more strident version of Black’s position was taken by Justice Clarence Thomas, in Morse v. Frederick (2007), a case involving a student who, when a parade passed in front of the school, waved a banner that read “ BONG H i TS 4 JESUS .” Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts marked an exception to the free-speech rights established in Tinker: students are not free to endorse drug use, but Thomas, concurring, used the occasion to wax nostalgic: “In the earliest public schools, teachers taught, and students listened. Teachers commanded, and students obeyed.”

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Just because the courts have recognized students’ First Amendment rights, it doesn’t follow that students have other rights. Do students have Fourth Amendment protections against “unreasonable searches and seizures”? Do they have Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination? Do they have Eighth Amendment protections against “cruel and unusual punishment”? In Goss v. Lopez (1975), the Court ruled that students cannot be suspended or expelled without at least some form of due process, but, two years later, in Ingraham v. Wright , it said that schools could punish children, physically, and without any procedure at all. This shift took place amid a growing conservative reaction that viewed the Court’s schoolhouse opinions as an example of judicial overreach, as a violation of states’ rights, and as part of the rise of permissiveness and the decline of order. Lopez had extended to students a Fourteenth Amendment right to due process, partly on the back of the argument that granting students rights is a way of teaching them about citizenship, fairness, and decency. “To insist upon fair treatment before passing judgment against a student accused of wrongdoing is to demonstrate that society has high principles and the conviction to honor them,” the legal scholar William G. Buss wrote , in an influential law-review article in 1971.

Plenty of teachers and school administrators think that students don’t have any rights. “I am the Constitution,” Joe Clarke, the principal of a high school in Paterson, New Jersey, liked to say, roaming the hallways with a Willie Mays baseball bat in the nineteen-eighties. This was an era that Driver describes as marking a Reagan Justice Department campaign for “education law and order.” The era produced a 1985 decision, T.L.O. v. New Jersey , in which the Court ruled that schools require only reasonable suspicion, not probable cause, to search students and their backpacks and lockers and other belongings.

Together, the education law-and-order regime and the rise of school shootings, beginning with Columbine in 1999, have produced a new environment in the nation’s schools, more than half of which, as of 2007, are patrolled by police officers. It was a police officer’s closed-door questioning of a seventh grader, taken out of his social-studies class in Chapel Hill, that led to the Court’s 2011 decision, in J.D.B. v. North Carolina , establishing that only in certain circumstances do students have Fifth Amendment rights. Do students have Second Amendment rights? Not yet. But last year a Kentucky congressman introduced a Safe Students Act that would have repealed the 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act, and allowed guns in schools. Meanwhile, more and more schools are surveilled by cameras, and bordered by metal detectors. If the schoolhouse is a mini-state, it has also become, in many places, a military state.

Few discussions of Plyler are more keenly sensitive to its ambiguities than Ana Raquel Minian’s “ Undocumented Lives: The Untold Story of Mexican Migration ” (Harvard), a revealing study that, because “undocumented lives” are nearly impossible to trace in the archives, relies on hundreds of oral histories. For Minian, Plyler, by its very casting of undocumented children as innocents, underscored the perception of undocumented adults as culpable—criminals to be arrested, detained, prosecuted, and deported.

As Texas appealed to the Fifth Circuit, Woodrow Seals, a district judge in Houston, ruled for the children in a related case. Seals didn’t agree that the undocumented children were a suspect class, but he didn’t need to, because he believed the Texas statute was not rational, and, in any case, he thought that absolute denial of an education was so severe a harm that, on its own terms, it required strict scrutiny. Public school is “the most important institution in this country,” Seals wrote, and “the Constitution does not permit the states to deny access to education to a discrete group of children within its border.” Seals handed down his opinion in July, 1980, just months before the Presidential election. He wrote in a letter, “I hate to think what will happen to my decision if Governor Reagan wins the election and appoints four new justices to the Supreme Court.”

Carter’s Justice Department had supported the plaintiffs. Reagan’s did not. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Plyler v. Doe on December 1, 1981. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund considered the case to be as important as Brown v. Board of Education, which, in 1954, Thurgood Marshall, then the head of the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, had argued before the Court. Marshall had presented Brown as a Fourteenth Amendment, equal-protection case. The plaintiffs in Plyler were making, essentially, the same argument. Conceivably, their case could realize the promise of Brown by establishing a constitutional right to an education. They could even press the claim that undocumented immigrants were not only persons under the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment but also, doctrinally, a suspect class. None of these objectives were politically within their reach, however, given the makeup of the bench.

During oral arguments, Marshall peppered John Hardy, representing Plyler, about what the State of Texas did and did not provide for undocumented immigrants:

M arshall : Could Texas deny them fire protection? H ardy : Deny them fire protection? M arshall : Yes, sir. F-i-r-e. H ardy : Okay. If their home is on fire, their home is going to be protected with the local fire services just— M arshall : Could Texas pass a law and say they cannot be protected? H ardy : —I don’t believe so. M arshall : Why not? If they could do this, why couldn’t they do that? H ardy : Because . . . I am going to take the position that it is an entitlement of the . . . Justice Marshall, let me think a second. You . . . that is . . . I don’t know. That’s a tough question. M arshall : Somebody’s house is more important than his child?

Later, Marshall came back at him, asking, “Could Texas pass a law denying admission to the schools of children of convicts?” Hardy said that they could, but that it wouldn’t be constitutional. Marshall’s reply: “We are dealing with children. I mean, here is a child that is the son of a murderer, but he can go to school, but the child that is the son of an unfortunate alien cannot?”

Three days later, the Justices held a conference. According to notes made by Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Chief Justice Warren Burger said, “14A applies as they are persons but illegals are not entitled to E/P.” Marshall said, “Children are not illegals. . . . E/P means what it says.” Five Justices wanted to uphold the lower court’s opinion, four to reverse it. Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., volunteered to write the majority opinion. He circulated a draft that called for strict scrutiny, deeming the children “a discrete and historically demeaned group.” Powell said that he couldn’t sign it.

Powell, appointed by Nixon in 1971, had been, for a decade, the chair of the school board of Richmond, Virginia. Sometimes known as “the education justice,” he was deeply committed to public schools. But, because he was also committed to judicial restraint, he was opposed to declaring education to be a constitutional right. “It is not the province of this Court to create substantive constitutional rights in the name of guaranteeing equal protection of the laws,” he had written in 1973, in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez , a case that was widely seen as having shut the door on the idea. For Powell, establishing education as a fundamental right invited claims: are health care, food, and shelter fundamental rights, too?

Powell was unwilling to sign Brennan’s first draft, not only because it went against his opinion in Rodriguez but also because the draft contained language “that will be read as indicating that all illegal aliens, adults as well as children, may be ‘discrete and insular minorities for which the Constitution offers a special solicitude.’ ” Brennan wrote a second draft; Powell once again asked him to narrow his opinion. But other Justices, who wanted to uphold the lower court’s decision, sought to move Brennan further to the left. After reading a draft of Burger’s dissent (“The Constitution does not provide a cure for every social ill,” the Chief Justice wrote, “nor does it vest judges with a mandate to try to remedy every social problem”), Justice Harry Blackmun circulated a proposal for issuing a different opinion, arguing that education has a special status because it’s foundational to all other political rights, being necessary “to preserve rights of expression and participation in the political process, and therefore to preserve individual rights generally.” Marshall, Brennan, and Stevens were prepared to join that opinion. But Blackmun needed Powell to make five. And Powell wouldn’t sign on. “As important as education has been in the life of my family for three generations,” he wrote to Blackmun, “I would hesitate before creating another heretofore unidentified right.”

In the end, Brennan crafted a compromise. Education is not a constitutional right, he wrote, “but neither is it merely some governmental ‘benefit.’ ” Undocumented migrants are not a suspect class, but their children are vulnerable, and laws that discriminate against them, while not subject to strict scrutiny, deserved “heightened scrutiny.” Powell wrote to Brennan after reading the draft, “Your final product is excellent and will be in every text and case book on Constitutional law.”

And yet its interpretation remains limited. “Powell wanted the case to be about the education of children, not the equal protection rights of immigrants, and so the decision was,” Linda Greenhouse remarked in a careful study of the Court’s deliberations, published a decade ago. For many legal scholars, Plyler looks like a dead end. It didn’t cut through any constitutional thickets; it opened no new road to equal rights for undocumented immigrants, and no new road to the right to an education. It simply meant that no state could pass a law barring undocumented children from public schools. But that is exactly why Driver thinks that Plyler was so significant: without it, states would have passed those laws, and millions of children would have been saddled with the disability of illiteracy.

In 1994, when Californians were contemplating Proposition 187, which would have denied services to undocumented immigrants, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times was able to track down thirteen of the original sixteen Plyler children. Ten had graduated from high school in Tyler. Two worked as teacher’s aides. Laura Alvarez and all six of her brothers and sisters stayed in Tyler after Judge Justice issued his opinion in Plyler. She became a legal resident of the United States under the terms of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, graduated in 1987 from John Tyler High School, and spent a decade working for the Tyler school district. “Without an education, I don’t know where I’d be right now,” she said.

“I’m glad we lost,” James Plyler said in an interview in 2007, when he was eighty-two, and long since retired, and enjoying his grandchildren, who are themselves of Mexican descent.

Lewis Powell retired from the Court in 1987. He was replaced by Anthony Kennedy. In another opinion, Powell had written that children should not be punished for the crimes of their parents. “Visiting this condemnation on the head of an infant is illogical and unjust,” because “legal burdens should bear some relationship to individual responsibility or wrongdoing.” It’s hard to know what Kennedy’s likely replacement, Brett Kavanaugh, would say about whether the Constitution guarantees undocumented migrant children the equal protection of the law. He’s never cited Plyler in his scholarship and, in opinions issued from the bench, has cited it only once. He hasn’t written much about equal protection, either, though he has said, in passing, that he finds the equal-protection clause ambiguous. As for undocumented migrant children, he has issued one important opinion, a dissent in Garza v. Hargan, last year, that, while not citing Plyler, described the plaintiff in the case, an undocumented immigrant minor in Texas, as particularly vulnerable.

“The minor is alone and without family or friends,” Kavanaugh wrote. “She is in a U.S. Government detention facility in a country that, for her, is foreign. She is 17 years old.” The reason for her vulnerability? “She is pregnant and has to make a major life decision.” She wanted to have an abortion; Kavanaugh had earlier joined a decision ruling that she must first leave detention and find a sponsoring foster family. When, in a further appeal, the D.C. court vacated that ruling, Kavanaugh dissented, arguing that the court had acted on “a constitutional principle as novel as it is wrong: a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. Government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand.” Her name was kept out of the proceedings. She was another Doe. It is not clear whether she ever finished her education. ♦

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An Underground College for Undocumented Immigrants

Making College Education a Right, Not a Privilege: America’s First Lady, Dr. Biden’s Quest to Make College Free

  • First Online: 17 June 2023

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argumentative essay about education is a privilege not a right

  • Allison Palmadessa 2  

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Higher education as a right is best exemplified by the attempt of the federal government to provide at least some college education to every individual who desires it at no cost to the student. The pursuit of free higher education for all as a means to promote equity and economic growth began in 2009 under President Obama with the support of the First Lady, Michelle Obama and under the watch of the then Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Now, in 2022, there is renewed hope as the nation struggles with the pandemic, is experiencing extreme economic disparity, and calls for equitable access to affordable, quality education as a means to address national challenges, which dominates President Biden’s agenda. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden has once again made it her mission to promote access to higher education for all. This chapter considers the call set forth by Dr. Biden, the victories and challenges in US policy to make this a reality, the ideas that support or negate the value of promise programs, and lessons learned from current programs at national, state, and local levels.

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COMMENTARY – Is education a right or a privilege?

  • Mark Pere Madrona
  • August 6, 2017
  • commentary , education , news

COMMENTARY – Is education a right or a privilege?

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 10931 or the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act of 2017” last August 4. The central provision of this law is its guarantee of exemption from tuition and other school fees for all Filipino students who will be admitted in all government-run universities and colleges. It will take effect beginning school year 2018-2019 . ( The Filipino Scribe shall give RA 10931 a closer look in an upcoming post. – MM )

Section 2 of RA 10931 declares that “quality education is an inalienable right of all Filipinos” and that “it is the policy of the state to protect and promote the rights of all students to quality education at all levels.” The debate on whether education is a right or a privilege has been raging on for many decades now. That’s because there’s no hard and fast answer to the question.

Of course, the politically correct answer to this question is to say that education is a right. That’s what we hear from international personalities like Hillary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai as well as progressive organizations like the National Union of Students in the Philippines.

The 1987 Constitution, for its part, also reiterates the importance of universal access to education. “The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all,” Article XIV, section 1 mandates.

education is a right meme

In the next provision, however, the Constitution made it clear that free public education is only guaranteed for the elementary and high school levels. At the heart of the debate on whether education is a right or privilege is the spiraling cost of pursuing college. Private colleges raise tuition fees every year, often in big percentages. It is not unusual for students to drop out in the middle of the semester or to go on leave because their families cannot pay for their education.

When I was still a college instructor, I’ve encountered a lot of performing students who didn’t take the finals exam because of the school’s “no permit, no exam” policy (they got a grade of “incomplete” instead). The high tuition rates in private colleges forces students to turn to state universities and colleges (SUCs) as their only alternative.

It is very easy for politicians to promise free tuition for all students aiming to study in state and city universities and colleges. However, that will make those institutions totally reliant on government subsidy and deals/partnerships with the private sector.

First question – How can the institutions finance their requirements for new facilities and infrastructure upgrades if their ability to generate income is severely constricted?

And also, what about the educators? It is a fact that they deserve COMPETITIVE PAY which they should receive ON TIME. How can that happen if their salaries are fully dependent on what the national and local government is willing to give their institutions?

Many people look at SUCs only through students’ viewpoint. The aspect of school maintenance and teacher salaries can’t be ignored.

​ In conclusion, it can be said that basic education is a right because it is within the extent of what the government can provide for free. However, tertiary education can be considered a privilege because it cannot be given entirely for free by the state. Parents and sometimes even students themselves will have to invest considerable amount of money for this.

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Mr. Madrona earned his master’s degree in history from the University of the Philippines-Diliman last 2020. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in journalism cum laude from the same university back in 2010. His area of interests includes Philippine journalism, history, and politics as well as social media.

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Education is a right, not a privilege

Posted on November 2, 2018 by the Editor

Education is something that children in big cities do not understand the value of since they get it easily, but then they are 61 million children across the world who know the value of Education, something that it is very difficult for them to get, mostly being girls. Education is the process of learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills and values. Educating a child means you are allowing that child to explore himself, his strengths, his weaknesses, his passion. Education not only includes the Mathematics, the English, but it also includes the reality of humankind, the truth about the society, it allows you to learn from the every day experiences, especially the bad ones.

The real value of education comes when it is offered to those who cannot afford it. The progress of society can only be done if we offer Education to all. This will create opportunities that will make not only their but everyone’s life better. For instance, there is one child who is very brilliant but not receiving education, receives Education and one day through his hard-work and dedication, he discovers something which can make our lives easier or safer. This shows that if the child had not been educated in the first place, we could not have got this opportunity to enjoy that discovery, so now we can conclude that by not educating the 61 million children, how many talents and minds have we wasted, the opportunity to make our lives simpler.

A human right is a right that is everyone’s no matter what their gender, nationality, race, religion and social class is. Education is a human right because article 26 from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “ Everyone has the right to education”. Many believe that illiteracy is the reason why certain regions are not developing, but what about regions in development? There are there literate people, because one educated person helped all of them get that access. But in developing regions, things are not going that way. Their economic, geopolitical and political problems are the reason behind the fact that most of them cannot obtain Education.

Education can be a right until a certain age. After that, the person is able to decide what its path is going to be, to continue Education or to leave it. Through Education many of the problems of not only oneself but also the nations can be solved. Education helps them educate the future generations and helps the whole society and Nation stay strong, it allows them to explore themselves and make better decisions in life. Hence Education can also be a necessity, without which we will not be able to achieve and explore things in life. It may be Privilege to some people in developed religions like America as they tend to have more resources put on Education of the general public. However, there are those African countries whose government does not allocate enough resources for Education. Therefore Education is a right and necessity but not a privilege.

One comment on “ Education is a right, not a privilege ”

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i totally agree with you moreover, those who are privileged don’t understand the value unit it’s too late.

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Education is a right, not a privilege

“Our Constitution guarantees the right of every Filipino youth to quality and affordable education,” lamented Rep. Sonny Angara, a University of the Philippines alumnus. This invocation of right is exactly the rhetoric of grieving and angry Facebook posts from UP students. This was the exact rhetoric of 16-year-old Kristel Tejada. Her bereaved mother said on dzMM: “Parang isa pong malaking dagok sa pagkatao niya (It was a strong blow to her humanity).”

Kristel, a UP Manila freshman and eldest of a Tondo taxi driver’s five children, tragically committed suicide after being unable to settle her tuition. The country is recoiling from the waste of a promising young life over a pittance of P6,337—in a country where families value education above all, where diplomas hang proudly beside the altar in even the humblest homes.

The tragedy is deeper for UP alumni. UP is supposed to be the great equalizer, where a deserving student may receive the best education in the country regardless of her background. A UP alumnus would think that UP is the last school in the country where a student would be driven to suicide over inability to pay tuition. An article of faith has been shattered.

My father entered UP Law as a poor boy from Negros who learned how to fry eggs with an iron and boil eggplants in laundry basins when the allowance was running out. I am the only one of my siblings who remembers the humble apartment we lived in when he was beginning his career. I would nap on our sofa and wake up surrounded by floodwater; fortunately, the sofa was raised on milk cans ahead of the rainy season. My mother is proud to have married a self-made man (but she claims that had she known how much his law firm paid in the 1970s, she would never have married him). Every UP alumnus is intimately familiar with far more extreme tales of overcoming adversity, whether his own or his classmates’.

UP student leaders again underscore that education is a constitutional right, not a privilege. They stake a claim based on justice, not merely compassion. Their basis is so strong that our Constitution even calls us to “assign the highest budgetary priority to education.”

“What ‘right’ to life has a man who is drowning in the Pacific?” reads a passage in “Starship Troopers,” the classic novel featuring Filipino Lt. Johnny Rico. “The ocean will not hearken to his cries.” Placing a right to education on even our most sacred piece of paper does not magically create the resources to make it effective. South Africa enacted one of the world’s most progressive constitutions when it emerged from apartheid, yet even it holds that aspirational constitutional rights may only be claimed to a degree of reasonableness. Its constitutional right to healthcare, for example, cannot be used to compel free treatment of the terminally ill when the resources used may treat many other sick persons.

Our students will again clamor for higher state subsidies for education despite impending final exams. UP president Alfredo Pascual has proposed changes to the university’s tuition subsidy policy. The time has come, however, to go beyond the constitutional claim to government resources.

First, more straightforward measures to connect needy students and donors may be introduced. According to one report, an P8,000 grant was available for Kristel but she somehow failed to submit certain requirements. According to another, alumni have begun to donate for a trust fund to support students unable to meet even subsidized tuition rates, and many are willing to but no structure was in place. At my graduation from a US law school, Bill Gates spoke about using his experience as a software developer to make it easy for people to channel resources to causes. He summed up: “I love getting people excited about software—but why can’t we generate even more excitement for saving lives?”

Second, our economy has surely advanced to the point that the private sector should be able to lend resources to needy students. When I met my classmates’ parents at my US graduation, I realized that many of those I respected the most came from middle-class minority families. They readily dreamed their dreams because student loans were available—seven years of Ivy League debt in many cases. Complementing the commercial loans was debt forgiveness for those who joined government and other public-interest roles. Similarly, with proper incentives and safeguards, an innovative bank may bet on our students. Even if such programs are piloted only to UP students, surely a large percentage of our premier university’s products can be expected to be productive citizens. Relatives and even benevolent strangers may cosign loans, and lessons from microfinance may further mitigate risk to lenders.

Third, we sorely need more innovative laws to benefit students, and Angara is a rare legislator who has made education his banner issue. His proposed “Bill of Rights for New Graduates” is a step in the right direction, for example. The bill proposes simple but high-impact steps such as giving fresh graduates free government documents for job applications, such as birth certificates and National Bureau of Investigation clearances. Innovation from Congress will go a long way to enhancing private-sector solutions such as donations and student loans.

Kristel’s tragic death will hopefully galvanize us into ensuring that it is the last, and making the constitutional right to education and innovative laws real.

Oscar Franklin Tan (, Twitter @oscarfbtan) teaches constitutional law at the University of the East. He is a former chair of UP’s Philippine Law Journal.

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Trump 2025 Is Coming Into View

Donald Trump gestures while making a point at a rally in Pennsylvania.

By Thomas B. Edsall

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C., on politics, demographics and inequality.

The combination of recent Supreme Court rulings on presidential power and the Democratic Party’s nomination crisis in the wake of Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance has significantly improved Donald Trump’s prospects — not only his odds of once again becoming president, but also of enacting a sweeping authoritarian agenda.

Trump’s debt to the six-member conservative majority on the Supreme Court is twofold.

First, their delay. By waiting until the last day of the court’s term to issue their decision on Trump’s immunity claims, the justices effectively prevented prosecution of federal criminal charges against him before the election.

“By shielding Donald Trump from standing trial before a jury in two of his felony cases,” Michael Podhorzer , a former political director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., writes in a post on his Substack, Tipping the Scales , “Trump’s three appointments to the Supreme Court, along with the even more MAGA Justices Alito and Thomas and Judge Aileen Cannon, have already irreparably interfered in the 2024 election.”

Second, the substance of the July 1 ruling in Trump v. United States has convinced Trump and his allies that they will face few legal obstacles if they pursue a radical reconstruction of government — a “second American Revolution,” in the words of one loyalist — if Trump regains the White House on Nov. 5.

“In a sweeping decision that constitutionalizes the modern reality of the imperial presidency, the U.S. Supreme Court has established near-total criminal immunity for Donald Trump’s official acts while he was president,” Noah Feldman , a law professor at Harvard, writes in a July 2 Bloomberg column, “ Emperor Trump ?”

“The Supreme Court has gutted the historic effort to hold Donald Trump legally accountable for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election,” Feldman goes on to say, pointing out:

A president tried to break our democracy by overturning the results of an election that he lost, and the Supreme Court has responded by protecting him from criminal prosecution. Our founders would be horrified. The Caesars would nod in approval.

At the same time, Trump’s main political adversary, the Democratic Party, is enmeshed in a grim struggle over whether Biden has the cognitive ability to be president for another four years or whether he should withdraw from the race.

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