Let’s Talk about: Freedom of Education

Jan Steen: School Teacher (ca. 1668) // Public domain

Since the 18th century until today, in most developed countries, the government creates educational policies. How do classical liberals imagine the functioning of education within the society?

The purpose of education is a creative, autonomous and enlightened individual and his further self-development. According to classical liberals, this individualistic goal is best achieved in a pluralistic, diverse and competitive system of educational institutions.

Every single person in a society should have access to basic education in the form of acquiring writing, reading and numeracy skills. Classical liberals are not opposed to funding these basic skills from taxes.

However, even in compulsory basic education, state policies should bear in mind the principles of competition, diversity and adaptation to individual needs.

Classical liberals certainly do not support a government school monopoly. They support the widest possible range of educational services, which can include online learning, smart educational toys, homeschooling (i.e. a home school where the parents teach their children), church schools, schools with alternative educational methods or private schools and institutions.

There should be competition between different approaches to education. And the education system should also be open to new technologies.

Classical liberals point out the risks of a government school monopoly. It could happen, for example, that the control of the Ministry of Education ends up under specific interest groups which then enforce their agenda for educational policy to the whole society. Education then becomes a hotbed of social conflict because, naturally, other interest groups become unsatisfied.

As for the financing of education, I can say that the classical liberals are in favor of the following principle. After completing basic education, public funding should gradually lose importance and private funding and / or some combination thereof should become important.

Funding education from taxes till any age does not make sense to classical liberals. The older a person is, the more responsible one must be for his or her own decisions and the more one must consider whether an additional investment in education is worth it or not.

Although the field of education is often regulated, new technologies are also being promoted in this area. These enable access to quality and unique education content for an increasing number of people all around world.

Various private initiatives are increasingly appearing on the market, apart from formal education systems beset by the rigidity of public education systems, and they are attracting more and more people with quality education content at a much lower cost.

For some companies, a university degree even ceases to be a guarantee of the quality and skills of the employee indicating that education is often lagging behind the needs of those companies.

A classic motto of John Amos Comenius, a famous 17th century philosopher who is considered to be the “father of modern education”, acquisition of new knowledge in any age remains valid. However, do not expect that only the school itself will give it to you.

Only you alone are able to increase your human capital. And, at many instances, it is also possible outside of official education systems. Think about it.

Continue exploring:

Let’s Talk about: Problem with Equality

Let’s Talk about: Rule of Law

Matus Posvanc