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Improving General Life Quality

The most important thing for a person is the opportunity to lead a healthy life, acquire knowledge, and have access to resources that allow them to live with dignity. At the same time, people value other things, including the conditions for creativity and self-realization, the guarantee of rights, and whether they can actively participate in political and cultural life. Experience shows that when per capita income increases because of economic growth, the level of quality of life also improves. Nevertheless, this improvement does not extend to all its aspects, is proceeding at different rates, and is not guaranteed. It requires a high balance of development while strengthening and expanding its human, social, natural, and physical dimensions.

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Society should clearly understand the goal on which it is necessary to concentrate its efforts. Only in this case, a fundamental change in the situation is possible. Once in a position of choice, society is aware of the need to search for an excellent social ideal, “new” values, forms of governance, etc. At different times, matters such as peace, tranquillity, balance, harmony, the common good or, conversely, progress, freedom, human and individual rights may become significant.

The one aspect of culture that I would change in my community and the whole world is the access to higher education level based on merits and meritocracy, which can be supported by Thomas More’s Utopia. There is evidence that those who can pay for the higher education might have lower test scores while deteriorating the essence of education and eliminating those people who might be smarter but do not have such financial opportunities (O’Day & Smith, 2016). Thus, it can be argued that the change towards merit-based students and provision of scholarships for them is the necessary change required in the society to give the most talented students to get an education and transform the community further. Analysts state that the persistence of inequalities in schooling prevents people from reaching upward mobility, especially for those who do not have financial support.

In Utopia, work is mandatory for everyone, and working skills are taught to everyone from childhood with the help of games (More, 2005). The program of mental training is harmoniously combined with physical exercise. The exception is the study of science in spare time from crafts and agriculture, which can be associated with a merit-based education system when only those who have motivation and willingness would get an opportunity to get higher education despite any social circumstances (Hammer, 2017). More cites that it often happens that a worker is so diligently engaged in science during the free hours and is distinguished by such great diligence that he is released from his craft and promoted to the rank of scientists.

More (2005) gives such scientists the opportunity to hold the positions of ambassadors, clergy, and heads of state. According to the author, only scientists can access power and solve the main problems in an ideal state. In this society, people are equal and have equal access to science, everyone is trained from childhood, and only the most capable get additional opportunities. Therefore, for those who want to enter the elite class, it is obligatory to show abilities and talent, which coincides with the idea of equal distribution of scholarships to get an opportunity for higher education, if needed.

Education, as a social institution, is designed to produce socio-cultural patterns and values. Still, at the same time, its organization is based on ideas that need to be adapted to the requirements of the present time. Reform to provide equal opportunity for higher education means a significant change in the way of life of a massive number of people. It also means that our society will consist of different people who became successful after a while, based on their merits. Meritocratic values and new opportunities provided for those who are willing to learn will help to ensure such students have gratitude to society and ready to give back. Analysts state that the persistence of inequalities in education prevents people from reaching upward mobility, especially for those who do not have financial support (Wiederkehr, 2015).

The idea of a modern social state is based on authorities’ efforts to provide all citizens with minimal income and social benefits and create an equal chance of social advancement. In contemporary society, it is supposed to be able to climb the career ladder from the bottom to the top. To get up, social mobility elevators — the army, the church, and education were created. An uneducated person cannot get a high-paying responsible job, no matter what their background is, which is reflected in the argument that people who need education but lack financial support should be granted a scholarship universally based on equal assessments (Crawford, 2010).

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Various researchers and people can argue that any state’s national economy cannot master so many geniuses that might appear due to the meritocratic system. Moreover, some people object to the idea and state that the meritocratic system existing nowadays fail and exacerbate inequality among students (Markovits & Sanders, 2019). Some people who disagree with the concept might also claim that the economic situation does not favor the existence of universal scholarships for outstanding students because not all jobs involve high-skilled activities that require a serious level of general education.

Instead, specific education that demands technical professions is not that popular and lacks qualified and motivated students who pursue advanced education in other spheres. These people who favor a merit-based approach to the distribution of higher education opportunities might be misguided because colleges allow social mobility and balance class differentiation while allowing less affluent students to get the same education as wealthy people get (Tough, 2019). To provide a counterargument, one can state that equality of chances through the scholarship allowances allows a state to encourage talent in general and facilitate a pragmatic path to fill jobs that require high qualifications with enough personnel. The development of educational institutions that is harmonized with the development of production and other spheres of society would encourage the emergence of balanced communities (Cowin, 2017).

Although there are no authorities or states that ensure the complete evenness of rights and opportunities, more or less successfully implemented equality of chances is socially useful in a narrower, unique sense. The provision of allowances for those who strive the most and are eager to develop professionally further allows people from the lower strata of society to count on personal rather than group success. This way, the problem of a social stratum or group is solved as a unique problem by each individual citizen. The solution hinders the group solidarity of such strata and reduces the potential for conflict that accumulates in societies with a rigid social structure. (International Labour Organization, 2018). Today, some people from the lower strata and the higher strata regularly pay society black ingratitude, considering the education they received not as a fair confirmation of their talents, but as a matter of unequal assessment system that politics cannot manage.

Finally, to advocate the necessity to provide scholarships for all talented students and ensure they get a higher education, it should be argued that equality of chances allows the values of solidarity to be effectively conveyed (UNESCO, 2014). The better education young people get, the more likely they are to leave the educational organization with a sense of gratitude and willingness to build a career in a country that gave them the opportunity to be successful and move upwards and be loyal citizens. This benefit can only exist when the education is an island of coveted stability, not as a bastion of inequality and exclusion, which produces social stratification and economic gaps.

To make a conclusion, despite the abundance of evidence that the academic environment is very far from a real meritocracy, universities continue to pretend that students and teachers are on an equal footing. Moreover, even when people understand the benefits of a meritocratic system, people only demand change when it hurts them, but not all groups of people coming from different backgrounds. The meritocracy supported by More as a government of the most capable is inextricably linked to the concepts of productivity and efficiency. Thus, the desire to ensure the greatest productivity, the most outstanding efficiency of each person’s activity, provides the foundation for society’s highest possible speed of progress. Such development can be achieved when talented young people are given financial and social support to help them grow as professionals and contribute to the growth of a wealthy nation.

References

O’Day J.A., Smith M.S. (2016). Quality and equality in American education: Systemic problems, systemic solutions. In: Kirsch I., Braun H. (eds) The Dynamics of Opportunity in America. Springer, Cham.

Wiederkehr, V., Virginie Bonnot, V., Krauth-Gruber, S. & Darnon, C. (2015). Belief in school meritocracy as a system-justifying tool for low status students. Frontiers in Psychology.

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Crawford, K. (2010). Schooling, citizenship and the myth of the meritocracy. Citizenship, Social and Economics Education, 9. 

Markovits, D. & Sanders, F. (2019). The meritocracy trap: How America’s foundational myth feeds inequality, dismantles the middle class, and devours the elite. Penguin Audio.

Tough, P. (2019). The years that matter most: How college makes or breaks us. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Cowin, J. R. (2017). Public policy and the structural development of postsecondary education in British Columbia, Canada, 1960 – 2015 (T). University of British Columbia.

More, T. (2005). Utopia (ed. by Morley, H.). The Project Gutenberg eBook. 

UNESCO. (2014). UNESCO education strategy 2014-2021. Web. 

International Labour Organization. (2018). Skills and the future of work strategies for inclusive growth in Asia and the Pacific.

Hammer, E. (2017). A Utopia for a dystopian age. The New York Times.

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