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Importance of Quality Education to Democracy

Ignorance is the enemy of democracy. Unlike autocratic societies, a democratic political order requires a stable political culture of an informed citizenry, capable of freely making intellectual choices, and reared in tolerance for the viewpoints of others. Without such a culture, democracy will eventually collapse. The most important social force contributing to such a stable political culture is education.

The purpose of this research is to examine the importance of quality education to democracy. It is argued here that a welleducated society not only helps a democratic order function more effectively, a well-educated society is a pillar necessary to the very survival of democratic institutions. In order to address this issue, the nature of democracy will first be defined, followed by a discussion of how education is an imperative for the maintenance of popular government.

There are many forms of democratic institutions, but all are based on some common premises of popular governance. Foremost in the definition of democracy is the concept of tolerance or, as Robert Dahl once described this set of democratic values, the concept of the "Open Universe" (Dahl, 1956). The Open Universe consists of a set of social values that draw the line of demarcation between democracy and autocracy. In short, it is the belief system of: (i) the primacy of equality among all individuals; and (ii) since individuals are more or less equal, no one individual or group has a monopoly on truth. Any one person may be right and another wrong on a particular fact and in a particular instance, but the notion that any individual or group is absolutely right in all or even most situations is antithetical to democratic values. Absolutism is a necessary value of autocracy in which the ruling elite stake a claim to vastly superior wisdom and knowledge over society in general. As a result, the ruling elite in an autocratic society therefore justify t...

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Importance of Quality Education to Democracy. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:35, October 04, 2015, from