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The education system is viewed from different perspective by different economics and social ideologies. Most of the conflicting views originate from some of the capitalism, Marxism and pure socialism ideologies. However, some variants of the major ideologies have unique views regarding the education system and the manner in which the society allocates funds to education.
Karl Marx Theory
Karl Marx, a philosopher, concentrated on the form of education provided by the more wealthy classes for the laboring middle class. He had a perspective that the wealthier population was always in power and controlled the working class. The tailoring of this education, according to Karl Marx, aimed at fitting the objectives of the wealthy and protecting their interests. There is a balance between the moderation of the knowledge level of the working class and the need for a knowledgeable and productive workforce (Small, 2005). Marx considers the funding of education by the government to be an ill-intended plan to maintain political order. The government funds education for the working class so that their children are able only to work, but are not enlightened enough to pose any threat to the aristocratic class. Marx postulates that the political authorities fund education to keep the working class dependent and under control. To him, a private funded education empowers a person and is oriented towards social and economic success rather than servitude. However, the education philosophy by Marx was a radical representation of liberalism and non-conformity to the formal system of education and its philanthropic nature. His ideas bordered anarchist philosophy of defying any system that brought some kind of order to society. On the other hand, Marxist’s philosophy provided insight into the camouflaged methods of economic control that the capitalist system used to ensure political survival (Small, 2005).
In the perspective of John Maynard Keynes, education can change the society only if it is offered in abundance to the masses. Contrary to Marx, he proposes that education requires funding by the state but, should aim at improving the conditions of the masses. Keynes did not support the ideas of radical capitalism that presented a cutthroat competition for economic superiority including unconventional means. Like Marx, according to Keynes, the idea of survival for the fittest analogous to Darwinian Theory is untrue. The authorities must fund education for mass enlightenment (Keynes, 1936).
Milton Friedman proposes that the government’s interference in the education system alters the quality of education offered to the schooling person. Friedman argues that the government funding of education should be an unregulated process. The government often supports formal education, but the same government places control on the funds’ spending. For education to be an objective process, the government must avoid interfering with the management of the finances in the education system. He at one point proposes that parents should be equipped with the necessary funds to educate their children. This way, the education system is free of political interference strong-arm control by the ruling class. However, this system of education differs from the Karl Marx’s model of modern education in which the parent requires monitoring in spending of the finances. In addition, the system opposes the Keynesian theory, which advocates for full government control of the education system.
On the other hand, the Friedman’s model of financing education has a weakness in ensuring the uniform treatment of people undergoing education. This is because the system designates the parent as an expert educationist who must decide on the standard of education that a child must undergo. This theory impairs opportunity for competition (Enlow & Ealy, 2006).
In the Friedman’s model of schooling, the funding of the school system emanates from the suppliers of education materials, which is the government, while the channeling of the funds is through the recipient of the education. In this theory, it is difficult for the government or the concerned authorities to monitor the utilization of money and efficiency of application of the funds. A similarity emerges between this system and the Keynesian system since they both make use of public schooling institutions as the major education providers. In addition, this system differs from the Marx’s model, which advocates for private schooling (Enlow & Ealy, 2006).
Kenneth Galbraith considers education to be the prime possession for any society. Educated people, according to Galbraith, govern delicate and important economic entities. To Galbraith, education is a tool for empowerment and anyone who wields academic skills wields the power. In his model of education funding system, the academic institutions must control their own finances to facilitate the smooth application of the funds. This method eliminates political interference from the government and the possibility of mismanagement by the parent of the scholar. However, the system ignores the possibility that the authorities directly governing the institution may be subject to control by the government (Galbraith, 1967). The system is similar to the Marxist system since the interest of the scholar governs the discipline of education. On the other hand, the system differs from the Friedman’s model in that the academic planners of the institution control the funds. Moreover, the system advocates for a public schooling system just as in the Friedman’s model and Keynesian education system. The Galbraith’s system has a significant contrast with the Marxist system since it advocates for a strictly formal arrangement in the education system while the Marxist system advocates for a liberal system where there is no formal structure.
Adam Smith proposes a strictly formal education system. His model of an ideal education system is the one controlled and funded by the government. Smith acknowledged that there is the danger of the working class to overrun the interest of the wealthy and the aristocratic class. The content of education requires control by the state according to the Smith’s theory. The tailoring of education should fit the production purposes. The scope of education should be limited to the significant areas of economic gain so that the spending on the education system by the state focuses on the economic importance. The economic importance in this case is the interest of the state and the ruling class (Rothschild, 2001). Smith and Marx conflict sharply on the issue of liberalism in the education funding and the education system itself. Marx refers Smith and other philosophers of similar opinion as fatal thinkers. Furthermore, he expresses concern that Smith is advocating for the Machiavellian tactics of manipulating education to favor the political system that is already in power.
The difference between the Smith’s theory and the theories by Galbraith, Keynes and Friedman is the radical nature of its suggestions. According to Smith, the government should have total control over the financing of education and the content of the education itself.
In general, these theories differ from each other in several dimensions. The postulations of Karl Marx concerning the education system are the most radical of all since they advocate for the informal system of education. Although Marx himself underwent the formal education, he never endeavored to work in a formal setup in his lifetime. Moreover, Marx dismisses the government funding as a ploy by the state to control the public in order to protect its various interests. All the other theories of financing education advocate for state funding, but with varying modes of application.