Part I: In your opinion, is the "right to education" a basic human right? Why or why not?
In my opinion, I think the “right to education” is a basic human right. There are many human rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), such as the right to life, the freedom of speech, the right to work, the right to rest and leisure, etc. Just as the reading indicates that many human rights can only be accessed through education, particularly rights associated with employment and social security, the right to education plays an important role to other human rights. The right to education is compatible with other human rights, and it can also be viewed as a foundation to other human rights.
To individuals, without education, they may fail to have a good quality of living standard. For instance, adult illiterates would find they have difficult in the present society in which words are used frequently to maintain their daily life. By knowing words, people can obey the traffic regulation, follow the directions to withdraw money, fill out the application forms, etc. Since illiterates may loose some ability to live in the society, not to speak of good jobs, they may also loose the potential to compete with other people to get a good job. They might have a chance to be employed to do some labor-based works with very little income. In general, most illiterates live at the bottom of the society, and may need more assistance from others to maintain their daily basic life, not to speak of being treated equally in some human rights, especially the right of employment because they are much less competitive than others due to their lack of a basic skill of recognizing words.
To our society, education is an investment of human capital, and it can supply qualified people to meet the economic demands and promote the progress of the society and the development of a country in many ways. The government is just like a mediator between individuals and society who can set up a well-organized educational system for individuals, such as compulsory education, to help them get the basic skills and knowledge necessary for maintaining basic life. The number of educated people can be a useful indicator to identify if a country is prosperous. In addition, people with education can be much easier to achieve other human rights inherent to each individual.
Human rights are for all the people regardless of race, sex, religion, etc., and people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. However, the right to education plays a critical factor to help people attain other human rights belonging to them. Educated people stand in the same criteria and have the basic skills to meet their needs of life. In other words, education provides us a basic understanding of freedom of thought and expression, the rights to cultural, health care, etc. which are indicated in other human rights. Hence, right to education not only can be viewed as a human right, but it also plays as a promoter role to arouse our attention to other human rights.
Part II: In your opinion, is open *access* to free, high-quality educational opportunity sufficient, or is it necessary to *mandate* education through a certain age or level?
I think it is still necessary to mandate education through a certain age or level although due to the advent of technology, we get lots of opportunities to get access to free educational materials.
For now, I don’t think free educational opportunities can completely replace the mandated education. The main reasons include:
1. How do we know if free educational opportunities have high-quality? What is the standard for high-quality free education?
2. Are there enough people who can be the gatekeepers to judge the quality of any free educational opportunities and let learners know what kind of level or learning background is necessary before you plan on learning through these free education by yourself?
3. Are free, high-quality free educational opportunities abundant enough and include a serious of contents with the level from kindergarten children to life-long learners?
4. Is there enough evaluation mechanism for learners to know their learning result, and what kind of level of courses that he or she should take after they are done with some free courses?
Compared to free educational opportunities, compulsory education sets up the timeline for children to receive the basic skills or knowledge necessary for their future life. Though the compulsory education may not consider much about the individual differences, it still provides a basic model for people to follow. At least, people can be sure that they can receive a certain amount of knowledge that is suggested or under evaluation by some experienced scholars who are responsible for the educational systems in a country.
Free, high-quality educational opportunities can be the assistant roles and provide lots of learning resources for the normal education. People can take advantage of these free educational opportunities and lead themselves to any advanced level of the knowledge that they are really interested in. However, I can not deny that if the mechanism of running free educational resources is mature enough someday, then it probably can replace the normal educational systems which is mandated by the Ministry of education.