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

by louisp on Février 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.<>