Equality of opportunity for education – One-off or lifelong?

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Adult education has long been the Cinderella of the education system. This is not helped by the fact that there is currently an impasse between employers, government and individuals over who should finance such training. So what, if anything, can philosophers do to help resolve the normative question of who ought to pay, setting aside for the moment the practical question of how this might be put into effect? An important strand of contemporary egalitarian philosophy argues that equality of opportunity for education should be implemented in such a way that children with the same level of talent and the same willingness to make an effort have the same opportunity to attain skills and qualifications such that they are each able (at the onset of adult life) to compete effectively with others for advantageous positions and rewards in society. But what about children or teenagers who drop out of education or make such little effort that they achieve wholly inadequate exam results? Should they be offered second and third chances for free education as adults funded by the state? A case is made for lifelong as opposed to one-off equality of opportunity for education on a number of grounds, including efficiency, utility, the value of choice, the social bases of self-respect and responsibility-catering prioritarianism. This last view supports lifelong access to education (for reasons of priority) but with the additional (responsibility-catering) stipulation that adults should contribute at least some of the costs themselves in so far as they are accountable for not making enough effort the first time around.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-84
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Philosophy of Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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