In what way does education contribute to social change? Discuss.

In what way does education contribute to social change?  Discuss.

Social change has been defined by sociologist Wilbert Moore (1963) as a significant alteration over time in behaviour patterns and culture, including norms and values. It is important to understand how the rate and nature of change brings about alteration in society. In simpler societies, change is unusually slow: tradition, ritual, rites of passage, and social hierarchies- these are some of the basic elements that have held such societies together. These elements weaken in the event of culture contact, and disasters such as wars, disease and famine.

W. J. H. Sprott (1967) presents a clear and simplified scheme of social change within a very narrow spectrum. According to him there is, firstly exogenous change which is caused by agencies external to society itself. Such factors as invasion, colonization, settlement, culture contact and disease are highly unpredictable and capable of effecting social disequilibrium and change. Secondly, there is endogenous change, which occurs from within the society. Sprott divides endogenous change into two main types according to their degree of predictability.

Education and Social Change

Education mediates and maintains the cultural heritage of the society. But, whilst seeking to conserve, education must also ensure that culture lag in society is minimized. This means that there must be some attempt to adjust the old culture to new conditions in order that individuals within a society may keep up with technological change. Patterns of culture and of institutions change rapidly, even though the average member of society may be virtually unaware of the transformations taking place around her.

There is, and must be, an interaction between education and society. It is not just a one -way process in which education is wholly determined by the state or by the demands of society. The institution and structure of education can, in turn, change and modify the social structure. Society at large may dictate the change, through the free election of political parties to power. In turn the programme, form and schedule of education which, to a large extent are directed and controlled by the political and social aims of society at any particular time, may contribute to the change. A study of comparative education will adequately reveal the fact that the ideologies, the political ideals, and the social aims of countries like China, the USA and the USSR, France, Germany and England, are reflected in their educational systems. Education, however, does not merely reflect society, it serves to bring change in it too.

Saroj Meher

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