Do Students Have to Come from a Rich Family to be Educated?

by louisp on February 23, 2015 - 11:55am

According to an article called At-risk Montreal schools fight high dropout rates published by CBC News on December 13, 2013, dropout rates of students are the most pronounced in the East Island of Montreal mainly because of poverty. On the other hand, Danish students do not seem really affected by this issue since they are getting paid from the government to attend to school, as described by an article from journalist Rick Noack from the Washington Post posted on February 4, 2015 named Why Danish students are paid to go to college. Thus, the correlation between the level of individual wealth and the chances to succeed at school rises serious questions regarding if our education system is really giving to its students equal chances of achieving higher education. With the recent budgetary cuts on education from Quebec’s provincial government, many might argue that not enough money is being spend on public education. However, the third article, published on September 20, 2010 by Jessica Shepherd entitled 70 Million Children Get No Education, demonstrates the dangers that spending more than its means could have on education for both developed and underdeveloped countries. Based on these three articles, this essay will demonstrate that, in order to have a better education system, Quebec should give incentives, but only to students who can prove that they are in financial difficulty, and who succeed in a program in which the government figures that there is a high likelihood that they will contribute to high economic growth for the country.


The first article regarding Montreal students’ dropout rates summarize a research led by the University of Quebec in Chicoutimi that came to two major conclusions. Firstly, there are major disparities in the dropout rates on the island of Montreal. Secondly, these disparities are explainable by the fact that lower income areas suffer more from dropout. For example, children who live west of the Decarie Expressway get, in proportion, twice as many graduates than those who live east. Finally, in Verdun and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, the less advantaged neighborhoods, one student out of four will drop out from high school. In my opinion, those facts show that children do not have equal chances to succeed at school because they may be forced to enter the labor market at an early age. Unfortunately, many of them may be very motivated and talented at school, and society would never benefit to the full extend from those talents. Of course, they will still be useful to the society but I think that in a world of specialization and globalization, diplomas in particular fields of study may contribute more economically to Quebec’s growth. Thus, the solution would be, like the third paragraph would demonstrate, to pay students to go to school based on the Danish model. However, this measure would be only applicable for two conditions. Firstly, students would have to show that they cannot afford to go to school. Secondly, they would have to pursue, while having good grades, in a field of study where the demand is high but the offer is low. The first condition responds to the fact that the first article showed that the major explanation for dropout in Montreal is related to poverty while the second condition is for budgetary reasons, which will be discussed in the fourth paragraph.


The second article takes place in Denmark where, at the age of 18, students receive, without having to pay back, about $900 US dollars per months to go to school. Indeed, Mads Hammen Larsen, a representative for the Danish Ministry of Education, explains that this educational system was created to give access to education to all social and economic classes, and to retain students who have the abilities and interests regarding their educational success. The benefits of this system are that Danish students have one of the highest graduation rates among all Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) that Danish are almost free of student debts, and that youth unemployment rate (11%) is one of the lowest of Europe and lower than in the United States. However, to finance all those expensive social plans, Danish people have to pay one of the world’s highest tax rates regarding their personal income, which are about 60%. Therefore, I found that the fact that, in this system, almost everyone has an access to education is very appealing because it provides incentives for those who do not have the financial capabilities to afford the expensive services that are Cegep and university. Like this article demonstrated, Quebecers would beneficiate from paying some of its students to go to school because, according to the Danish educational system, it will increase graduation rate while providing equal chances for everyone.


In the third article, Jessica Shepherd, from The Guardian, summarizes a report from The Global Campaign association for Education, a non-governmental association working to promote children’s and adult access to education. It revealed that 70 million children in the world cannot go to school because of the countries’ inability to create wealth to finance those systems. More importantly, this quote shows that countries that borrowed money to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), such as Greece, Italy or Spain, face major consequences: “However, the macroeconomic conditionality the IMF imposes on countries to achieve this stability has detrimental effect on countries’ abilities to allocate the sufficient funds to education.” (Back to School? 18) Therefore, this article and this report suggest that making higher education free for everyone would be a bad idea. Indeed, Quebecers, the most heavily taxed people in North America, would not be willing to give more money to the government, which is why only students in financial difficulties should be helped. If provincial government borrows too much money, it may be forced by its creditors to cut in its programs, like the third article shows. Moreover, the second condition, which is allowing those financial helps only to in demand programs that will generate more wealth than the average, is a good long run strategy because it will represent an investment more than a governmental spending. Indeed, those future workers would be more likely to contribute more to the Canadian GDP than the average and the majority of them would pay more taxes than if they had dropped school.


In conclusion, this essay demonstrated that education does not always mean equality of chances. In fact, the first article showed the strong negative correlation between the poverty rate and the level of education in Quebec. To solve this issue, an article showed that, in Denmark, students are getting paid to attend to school, which decreases the dropout rate because of the social policies of this government. However, the last one suggested that paying people to have an higher education will arise public debt, which decreases the confidence of creditors. Thus, to be able to combine social programs with governmental responsibility, my interpretation of those three articles is that talented students who are unable to afford higher education should be paid to go to school if they are in a program that is more likely to create wealth for the economy. At last, what should really matter is the Quebecers’ level of happiness because it is not everyone who enjoys school but those who do should, at least, have the opportunity to access it regardless of their financial status.



Works Cited (in order of appearance) 


“At-risk Montreal schools fight high dropout rates.” CBC News. 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <>


Noack, Rick. “Why Danish students are paid to go to college.” The Washington Post. 4 Feb. 2015. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <>


Shepherd, Jessica. “70 million children get no education, says report.” The Guardian. 20 Sept. 2010. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <>


“Back to School? The Worst Places in the World.” Oxfam international. Global Campaign for Education. 2010. Web. 11 Feb 2015.<>




You make a good point within all three of your articles but I don't think we should be marketing education. Just because you throw money at something does not mean it will be fixed, as we are humans who make the choices to attain a higher education or not. Don't you think that everyone having the opportunity of a great education would benefit the economy? Its sad to say we don't live in a perfect world where we all don't get the same opportunities but the economy needs balance or it will suffer greatly in different areas. I agree that money is an issue, its costly to go to school for some/most people, that's why the money should be spent for people who want to go to school rather than providing everyone with eh same education. Ive had experience with people who just hated going to school, not because of the cost but the people, the teachers, the programs etc.. we need to find a different way to have more people come into school for the right reasons.
This article shows the causes and problems in rich vs poor families and education
:) good job!

I would like to begin by saying that your post is thoroughly written. You did your research and presented three distinct sources on the top. Also, I like how you added your personal interpretation at the end of your post. This made it more significant to me as a reader. In addition, I found an organization that actually helps solve some the issues you mentioned in your post. Sun Youth is an organization that assists people living in poverty by supplying them with basic school supplies among other essentials. If you wish to do more for the cause you mention in your post, I would suggest that you join this organization.

First off I would like to congratulate you on writing an interesting and well researched article that contained extremely credible sources to backup your claims, it was a pleasure to read. Based on facts that provided and as well as your personal opinion it appears as though you are lobbying for a utilitarian philosophy with regards to education and / or the education itself, because you suggested that individuals who are coming from a lower socioeconomic status should receive some subsidies or some sort of financial incentive to continue pursuing their education. Meanwhile those who wish to enter the work force immediately and those who are fortunate enough to be able to provide for their own education should not be the recipients of these benefits/ incentives so as to focus the provinces resources on those who need it the most.The utilitarian approach centers around doing the most amount of good for the most amount of people possible regardless of some of the sacrifices that some people may be forced to make. Although it may seem to be the perfect ideology on paper there are a few problems with this philosophical theory as well. First of all although it may focus around the happiness of others, but it is an extremely impartial method because many people could disagree on what the best course of action would be and there is no clear path to a conclusion. Also it runs on the premise most if not all people in society have the same generally accepted values, and that poses a big problem, especially in a city like Quebec known for its multiculturalism.

Regardless that is not to say that your proposed solution would not work, in fact if would be very interested in seeing what would happen if it came to fruition, it's just not that easy to change things and there many variables that must taken into account. Itis nice see someone taking an interest in th education and suggesting possible solutions.


Waurechen, Sarah. "Utilitarianism". Marianopolis class, Montreal. Feb. 6th 2015. Lecture.

On one hand, I would like to say that it shows that you were interested by this subject and that you made some research. It was great to read. On the other hand, I have to oppose the conclusion you made.
First, it is true that people respond to incentives but incentives can be both negative or positive. On one side, the incentive you propose, would be beneficial for the students that can’t afford to pay for their education but did you think about this treatment being a negative incentive for other students. For example, in some cases, one may not meet the criteria of a person in need because of one’s parents revenue but in fact the family may be struggling with debt. Would your solution discourage these people to fight for their education? It is a possibility.
Moreover, it is unethical to choose which students get to be educated and those who do not, even if for just a portion of the population. Certainly, in reality, there are some students who deserve the help more than others but the government cannot and should not make this decision. We live in a society where many people still fight for equal opportunities therefore it would be truly unjust to install such a program, especially for such a basic right. In addition, you state that not everyone enjoys school and those who do should have access to it, but did you think that there is a possibility that those who don’t enjoy school and don’t have the opportunity to go to school may eventually become a “burden” on the society? Many may turn to illegal processes or ask for welfare and therefore the society won’t really win for only sending some people to school.

Your paper is greatly researched and the points that you are trying to make have been substantially supported. Your argument is justified according to a utilitarian perspective in that society should help those who cannot afford to go to university based on the fact that they will one day benefit our society as a whole. In other words, you are suggesting a certain action for the greater good. However, western philosophy is governed by a teleological theory focusing on individualism rather than collectivism. Western culture has been depicted as a society that decides what is right or wrong based on the end result of our actions but from a point of view that focuses on self-interest.

This ethical perspective is not necessarily bad but couple it with the current debt that is constantly increasing exponentially and the ever high rates of corruption unique to Quebec, there is little budget remaining to help any students in financial situations. Moreover, Quebec has a very low tuition rate for Universities and CEGEPS. The tuition for McGill University for the Fall/Winter semester of 2015-2016 is 4000$ Canadian a year. An equivalent education in the United States is near the $30 000 a year rate. Even working part time, any driven student for a real passion to further his studies at any cost would be able to afford it.

I really enjoyed reading your article, as much as the comments too. I find the subject very interesting and it raises issues that are important nowadays, but will also continue to be essential in the upcoming years. Paying students to study, this idea bothers me a bit. Why further increase the government’s expenses, are there no alternatives? In my opinion, the interest of the individual are more important than those of the state. That means encouraging young people and help them access to education or training according to their  interests. Equal access to education is important, but I think that it is associated with individual coaching. What direction suits to me, what will allow me to develop myself, these are very complex issues that require time, explanations, meetings. In "Les places et les chances" (“positions and chances”) the french sociologist François Dubet questions the French model, one of the most inequitable educational systems in the OECD. According to him, the inequalities between social classes are growing over the study because they are cumulative. He then sets out two main conceptions of social justice: equal positions and equal chances. Equal positions means reduce inequalities in income and living conditions between managers and workers. Equality of chances is trying to give opportunities for mobility to the most deserving underprivileged classes. It is an understatement to say that equality of chances is complicated to implement on the ground. Maybe we should start with taking care of equality of positions?