Does education necessarily guarantee progress?


Reminder for this question:

Do not “hijack” the question by proving that education leads to more problems/stagnation. Doing so does not directly answer the question. Instead, this question needs students to assess the limitations of education in guaranteeing progress


Interpretation of Keywords



ensure, promise, suggesting that education provides an assurance in terms of progress (most important tool, effective, practical)


Necessarily :

invites candidates to cast doubt on/question a popular myth/saying that may or may not be true


Interpretations of “Progress”:

  • Individual-level – improving/empowering one’s social mobility in society, breaking out of the vicious cycles of poverty, with the knowledge and skills


  • Social/national level – advancing the economic outlook of a nation


  • Education helps enlightens the individual mind, empowering the person to be more aware of one’s human rights and entitlements — breaking out of one’s ignorance and discrimination


The direction of your opposing arguments :

prove that education sometimes lacks the ability to guarantee, because OTHER BROADER social/cultural/political factors may tend to impede/outweigh/overshadow the progressive impact brought by education





Indeed, education is touted as an effective and powerful weapon in empowering an individual to have greater social mobility in life.


The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal:

One key goal is to provide universal primary education to all children in the world

One laptop per child:

The “One Laptop Per Child” social enterprise seeks to produce affordable tablets to children in Third-Word countries in order to empower with employable digital skills. This allows them to remain relevant in our increasingly digitalising world, with skills that will be in higher demand.



Thai literacy programme:

Thailand’s hill tribe literacy programme helps to bring basic education to the minority hill tribes in order to help them gain employable skills.



The examples above bear testimony to the broader argument that underlying these worldwide educational initiatives is the philosophy that education is indeed a transformative weapon, as it is deemed to ensure significant degrees of economic empowerment for the individual.




On the national level, education is also advocated as a prized investment that can engender (lead to ) economic prosperity to a nation, improving its economic outlook.



Singapore, Finland— said to have the world’s best education system, South Korea, Japan


These nations often perform extremely well in the international PISA test where students from different countries assessed in terms of their abilities in reading, Math and Science.

These countries have long enjoyed robust economic growth and they credit their success to their significant investment in their education systems.


Link: These examples suggest that there is a direct correlation between education and national economic progress






One has to take the broader view that in reality, the social and political factors of the broader environment in a country may also impede /hinder the impact of education. The pervasive culture of prejudice and discrimination may limit what one can achieve in life, EVEN IF the individual is well educated.



Women in Pakistan:

Women in Pakistan, are marginalised and targeted. The Taliban actively destroys opportunities for women to gain an education. In their attempt, they bombed girls’ schools and killed anyone who stood in their way, shooting even innocent girls like Malala Yousfzai, as they had opposing views. Hence we can see that even if the girls were to be educated, they would be unable to attain to better incomes and standards of living, as the Taliban would take action to suppress these more intelligent, and innovative women, seen in the case of Malala Yousfzai.




One also has to examine the broader the reality that the prevalent income inequality may also hinder the progress of an individual in life, even though the individual has equal access to education.

While most individuals advance in life, some progress faster than others, and some are lagging behind



Elitism and the existence of classes in educational institutions:

In Singapore, the perceived social divide between the “elite schools” and “neighbourhood school” is said to determine how far an individual can advance in life, based on the prestige and quality of one’s education. The rich and wealthy are able to afford costly tuition fees, whilst the poorer are unable to do so. Creating a clear dichotomy between the rich and the poor. Affluent students with tuition will more likely be able to achieve prestigious grades thus allowing them to get into prestigious schools. Whilst, on the other hand, students who lack the financial support to afford such luxuries will continue to remain in middle tier schools and earn middle tier incomes. This shows that education is not a perfect catalyst for social mobility, in a sense that the rich will remain rich, and the poor will remain poor.


Thus in this aspect of social mobility, education is not a perfect system that allows one to rise up the ranks in a society, as an opportunity to learn, and succeed is partly dictated by one’s socio-economic status.


Education no longer guarantees progress at the workplace as today’s knowledge-based economy demands a wider set of skills and competencies.

With the rise of artificial intelligence and technological developments, one can start to wonder: which jobs will be obsolete in the future? Robots are cheaper faster and more efficient, what about us?

One’s education may not prepare one well for the evolving challenges of the 21st century at the workplace.

The current education system examines the student’s ability to regurgitate facts and figures, rather than their ability to evaluate situations and critically think. Leading them to develop factual knowledge rather than conceptual understanding.

Thus, by this metric, we can see that education fails to empower students to progress further in life, due to the regimented and knowledge-based system, rather than through critical thinking.




SkillsFuture Credit scheme in Singapore:

Financial subsidies are given to all Singaporeans aged 25 and above to go for further skills training to upgrade their skills in order to meet the modern challenges in today’s workforce.



IT-related skills, technology-related skills (data analytics, using latest digitalised applications etc)— such skills are demanded more than ever in today’s knowledge-based economy



Therefore the current education system does not guarantee progress, and a secure future, especially given the volatile, uncertain, confusing and ambiguous world that we live in.

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