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This House Believes Private Education Should Not Be Abolished

On Monday the 3rd of October, Rafa S, Isabella R, Eleanor S and Allegra M debated whether the existence of a private education system allows for a fair society, if it permits or prevents a meritocracy. The following speech discusses how private education allows for parents to ensure a better future for their children and how it promotes freedom rather than how it might exacerbate class inequality.

Milton Friedman; (July 31, 1912 - November 16, 2006) was an American economist and statistician who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his research on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and the complexity of stabilisation policy. With George Stigler and others, Friedman was among the intellectual leaders of the Chicago School of Economics, a neoclassical school of economic thought associated with the work of the faculty at the University of Chicago that rejected Keynesianism in favour of monetarism.

Friedman did say something wholly relevant: "A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both". I'm not some soulless monster speaking for the rise of the upper class or an advocate for inter-class intellectual inequality; I'm speaking in the defence of freedom.

Both throughout history, and sadly in today's modern age, private education is our salvation; it offers religious and political freedom, amongst many other necessary factors to ensure self-expression and the conservation of identity. Politics fluctuates with ease, and whenever a new political party reaches power, the first thing they do is change the laws regarding education. Why is that? The answer is simple but burdensome; they know that in order to impose total control, they must indoctrinate the population. Through schooling, societal values and opinions can be shaped to their will in order to convert children into their optimal voters. We have all witnessed this in Cataluña. The proposition is probably rolling their eyes at me, thinking, here she goes again with this political nonsense we've all heard a time too many times. To them I say, listen to what marvels public education can get you.

For it is true, in August 2022, the Catalonian government passed a decree by which the formerly required 25% of Spanish-taught education to be reverted to a full Catalan curriculum. By making this the law, children will drift away from Spain, from our culture and from our language; Catalonian protestors scream, forgive my Catalan, "sense llengua no hi ha pais", without a language, there is no country, and it is accurate, it is language what unites a population. Children will no longer feel Spanish but independent catalans, which is indispensable to the government, as they are generating future supporters. Those families who oppose the independence movement and consider themselves to be Spanish risk being shunned, and no public school can offer an education that doesn't clash with their identity, and thus, those who are able, resort to private education in order to salvage their identity as Spaniards. If, as the proposition proposes, these institutions were not available, there would be an even greater repression of human rights and of the freedom of thought and speech. Let’s see if you can guess who said this, "Education was regulated by the state and the church..our father was not going to submerge us in such an educational system" Any ideas?

Let me give you another clue: this individual’s idea was that the school should be an educational establishment in which there was complete freedom of speech and expression. The outcome was very British: a compromise, and the name of that compromise was Runnymede. Indeed, this was Mr Frank Powell explaining the foundation of the school under Franco. Under Franco, education was ran by the church and teachings were all based around the Bible or the wonders of Franco’s regime; Mr Arthur Powell was not particularly convinced that this was the optimal education for children, and so he founded Runnymede, a private school where during the dictatorship, families who wanted a non-denominational, British education could find refuge. Runnymede, along with all other private schools allow choice, and thus freedom. Private education offered an escape from a state-enforced schooling system.

When discussing private education as evading religious indoctrination, there is no better place to look at than Iran. I am sure that by now we are all aware of the tragedy of Masha Amini, a young woman who was brutally murdered by the so-called morality police in Tehran for not wearing her hijab in accordance with governmental standards. Iran has been living under an extreme islamist dictatorship since the revolution of 1979, during which Iran was transformed into the oppressive society it is today. Education is the most valuable tool used by the mullahs to enforce total control of the population. Religious brainwashing forced the country into believing the values enforced by the government, which is inherently autocratic. But in such a repressive society, even the smallest choices can prove to be a salvation. Private education exists in low numbers in Iran, but they offer a melting pot of cultures as they house almost all internationals who have known politics outside of the country. If only more private education was available, more Iranians would have the opportunity to experience some freedom. However, the proposition wants these few schools banned, and although it is true that it is a pity that very few people can afford this education, some is better than none, and although they might consider it unequal and unfair, I consider it freedom. Freedom for those who are able to pay for this education. Don’t let the proposition convince you that it is this economic advantage that is unfair, a difference that can be alleviated through economic aid, in the same manner that in the leading American academic institutions are under financial aid; what is really unfair is that education has been politicised to this extent.

And so I will finish as I started, returning to Friedman and his premonitory quote: “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.” If we were all equal, no-one would be truly free.

-Allegra M, Year 12

By VIC CVUT - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

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