Equal opportunity is a stipulation that all people should be treated similarly, unhampered by artificial barriers or prejudices or preferences, except when particular “distinctions can be explicitly justified. The aim according to this often "complex and contested concept" is that important jobs should go to those “most qualified” – persons most likely to perform ably in a given task – and not go to persons for arbitrary or irrelevant reasons, such as circumstances of birth, upbringing, friendship ties to whoever is in power, religion, sex, ethnicity, race, caste, or “involuntary personal attributes” such as disability, age, or sexual preferences. Chances for advancement should be open to everybody interested such that they have “an equal chance to compete within the framework of goals and the structure of rules established.” Education in its general sense is a form of learning in which knowledge, skills, and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training, and research. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts. From an early age, we’ve been told that education is the key to one’s success in life. Study hard! Get good grades! Go to college! And by making education freely available to all children, we’re giving everyone an equal opportunity to succeed in life. But the path to success and even middle-class existence is no longer so straightforward, if indeed it ever was.
Though important changes have been made in Mauritius as regard to the educational structure which includes the introduction of free education (1997), various laws have been introduced to extend educational provisions and thus make education more accessible to each and everyone, the educational act of 1988 set up technological colleges which select pupils according to their ability, yet equality of opportunity has not been achieved till now. Despite the fact that the educational system is standardized, all children do not perform equally well at school. Despite efforts to secure equality of educational opportunity for all children regardless of class, ethnic background or sex, not all children of the same ability achieve the same success in education. Inequalities remain in achievement. Some children achieve success, others become failures-dropouts. The failure of pupils to do well in education is called under achievement. The claim that whether equality of opportunity is more of a myth than a reality is debatable.
First and foremost, there may be equal opportunities but there are certain factors which affect a child’s education. Social class (the position of an individual on the social ladder) is one of the key factors that determine whether a child does well or poorly at school. Much evidence exist to support that there are major differences between the levels of achievement of the working class and middle class child. In general the higher the social class of parents, the more successful a child will be in education. Thus, social inequality is a major variable or factor determining success or failure. Class inequality in education begins at primary level and becomes wider as the child moves through the education system. There are various elements which sociologists have analyzed as regard to the relationship between social class and educational achievement.
They are elements found in the socio economic family background of children. Socio economic variables refer to material and cultural deprivation. Poor educational performance is related to the various forms of deprivation that children encounter in their home or socio-economic environment. Evidence show that lower class children are far more likely to fail the CPE (primary education), start school unable to read, are placed in lower streams, get poorer exams results, are less likely to continue with higher education. Both material and cultural deprivation may explain such...
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