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The Impact of Education on Political Participation

Discuss about the Education and Political Participation.

There is no gain stating the fact that education and democracy are inter-related topics. In order to improve the functioning democracy of any country, it is highly imperative that the people of the country are qualified enough to distinguish between false promises and authentic leadership skills. Research has shown concrete evidence that literacy alone helps to raise public awareness making each resident informed and responsible enough to take life-transforming decisions. Seen in the light of this argument, it is important to note that the Canadian democracy has witnessed a 7% increase in the Federal votes, and the rise in votes has been attributed to educated youths. Hence, the thesis statement of the present research is to determine if education has any important role to play in the political democracy of Canada or not.

As far as the Canadian government is concerned, it has been observed that between the years of 2011 and 2015, the nation has witnessed a rise of 7 % in the total votes cast, out of which the educated youths had an integral role to participate[1]. In order to reinforce the argument, it should be mentioned that the participation rate of the people with a University degree was much higher than the Canadians who did not even complete their high school education. The surveys conducted as well as the administrative data of Canada claim that political participation of the country is directly affected and influenced by education. Over the last five years, it is being observed that higher the literacy of the nation in a particular year, higher is the participation of the people in exercising their democratic rights. According to a professor at University of Montreal, Henry Milner, education is making the people more attentive towards politics. While even some years back, people were unwilling to cast their votes, with the increase in education, people are becoming more aware of the importance of exercising their own choice by casting votes for the right people. In fact, research conducted on the Canadian election polls has further stated that 11% of the youths of Canada who refused to cast their votes belonged to the age group of 24 and thus most of them had not completed their University education during the time of the Federal vote. More the people are educated, the more they are able to think critically about the political concepts, such as good governance or effective leadership. Besides, educated people in Canada or any country have been found to have greater urge to get employed or to gain access to other opportunities. This is a reason why they are willing to bring about a remarkable change with the help of their democratic power. It is important to note here that between the years of 2011 and 2015, there has been a remarkable increase of 12% in the political participation of the voters[2]. This increase in the political participation of the voters has also been accompanied by the increase in the total number of educated youths casting their votes. The people aged between 18 to 24 years of age have completed their education, and thus their participation has increased from 55 to 67% [3]. This increase in the rate of education was also followed by a remarkable increase in the rate of voter participation. Although the democratic set up of any nation allows all its members to cast their votes, the voters are often unwilling to cast their votes despite having voting rights. However, education helps to enlighten an individual shape his own opinions, and instill in him a desire to change the world. With this, the political participation of the educated youths of any nation increases, and Canada in itself bears evidence to this fact.

The Reasons Why Young Canadians Vote or Do Not Vote

The above diagram very accurately illustrates the higher the education rate of the Canadian citizens, the greater is the political participation.

It was indeed astonishing to see that the youth voter turnout grew from 55% in the year 2011 to that of 67% in the year 2015. This data was mainly obtained from the study, which was conducted by the Elections Canada. This was mainly administered during the Statistics Canada’s November labor force survey. Researchers have conducted many surveys in order to understand the main emotions that play in the minds of the young people that make them to opt for vote or stay away from voting. Some of the main points which they noted here are  disillusionment among the youths and also severe confusion among them regarding  the parties that need to be selected over the other.

Interviews conducted in the past showed many interesting views of the youth who did not vote. Many of them said that as they the young people have less money, they are paid less importance. They believe that politicians do not care for the vote of the young Canadians as long as they do not have enough money. They also used to believe that there are many candidates and very little political substance. Therefore, the young people got disillusioned whom to vote for in the elections. Often these type of answers from the young people clarified the absence of proper knowledge about the entire system which could be only obtained by properly educating oneself in politics[6]. An interesting analysis had been done in this regard which showed that education indeed helped people to be safe from any sort of disillusionment. The young voters were mainly found to have completed their university years and had thereby been more interested in casting their votes than the non-voters who complained of disillusionments and confusion to vote for the right person. Moreover, not only university-education but also recent trends of educating oneself by different means have also been one of the most helpful contributions to young voting.

The growing trends of different forms of media have allowed different types of educational messages to be conveyed to a large audience comprising of different age cohorts[7]. Different forms of conveying important news through television, youth newspapers, social media and many others have exposed a larger portion of the political conditions of the country to the young people helping them to gather ideas and support for specific parties. These types of Medias have made the youth more aware of the different benefits that they can obtain by choosing the leader of their own liking. Therefore, one can see educating such youngsters in the recent happenings of their country has in turn ensured more young voters participate in their voting. [8]

The Role of Education in Shaping Political Views

Moreover, it is also seen that educated individuals are more concerned about their future than the non-voters are and tend to initiate a better place for them to thrive well in the future. They have been mature enough to understand that in order to have a better future, individualistic approach is very important and does not let disillusionment to affect their views and beliefs. They believe that a good future can be achieved by making their country a better place to live in with huge number of opportunities. They have understood that in order to achieve the said goals, the first step is to establish a nation with an eminent leader[9]. That leader will look over the entire welfare of the nation starting from good healthcare benefits, good defense system, good place for various job opportunities and others. They believe that the citizens can not only thrive happily in such nation but also can grow as an individual both financially and mentally. Thereby one can easily point here that education have helped the young people to analyze critically and hence understood their importance in providing the best leader to their nation through their voting contribution.

The above discussion is indicative of the fact that the political democracy of Canada is strongly determined by the aspect of education as per the reason that, it has been identified that education is positively increasing the voting rates in the country. Most significantly, the above discourse has implied that individuals with standard educational background are willing to cast their votes more than those who do not possess a University or college degree. However, it has been also identified that in the era of twenty first century, Canadian voting rate has been decreasing from the 1970s.[10] Therefore, it can be also argued that the instead of being fairly educated, there are still a disappointing amount of people who are not preferring to utilize their eligibility to cast vote and supporting the political democracy of the country. The distinct argument can be supported by the fundamental fact that education is an aspect that helps an individual to understand the hypocritical idealisms of most of the political leaders.[11] Therefore, it is easy to assume that education is making people sceptical about the political freedom, which is being showcased by the political leaders.

However, it should also denoted in this respect that one of the dominant reason for the sudden declination in the voting rates is found out to be potential shift in the premise of social values away from the esteem to institutional authority. On the other hand, it needs to be contemplated here that it has been recognized that gradually most of the Canadians have become conscious about whether their votes will worth any value for the effort or not. Henceforth, it can be definitely said that education is one of the key aspects that determines the voting rate in Canada in both positive and negative way. It is highly arguable that education does not always works in favour of Canadian political democracy as it has been found out that it is the power of literacy that is increasing scepticism among the Canadian citizens. In other words, it can be said that it is the notion of education that is enlightening the Canadian citizens about the political hypocrisy that is breathing for a long time within the shroud of political democracy. However, it should be considered that the steady declination in the voting rates is partly dependent upon various religious reasons. Therefore, it would not be completely justifiable to blame literacy for the decreasing voting rates in Canada.

Henceforth, from the entire critical discussion above, it can be deduced that education plays a significant role in the political democracy of Canada. It is because, Canadian people who are educated becoming more attentive towards the aspect of political freedom and likely they are to exercise their individual choices by casting their votes. On the other hand, in the penultimate stage, the discourse has also implied that it is literacy, which is also making Canadian people sceptical about the credibility of political freedom. Henceforth, it can be said that in Canada, education plays a potential role in the political democracy.

Reference List:

Bhatti, Yosef, Jens Olav Dahlgaard, Jonas H. Hansen, and Kasper M. Hansen. "How voter mobilization from short text messages travels within households and families: Evidence from two nationwide field experiments." In Midwest Political Science Association’s Annual Meeting. 2015.

Biesta, Gert JJ. Good education in an age of measurement: Ethics, politics, democracy. Routledge, 2015.

Brade, Raphael, and Marc Piopiunik. "Education and Political Participation." DICE Report 14, no. 1 (2016): 70.

Coleman, James Smoot. Education and Political Development.(SPD-4). Vol. 4. Princeton University Press, 2015.

Cooper, Josh, and Elizabeth Campbell. "Civic Pedagogies in Higher Education: Teaching for Democracy in Europe, Canada and the USA by Jason Laker, Concepcion Naval, and Kornelija Mrnjaus (review)." The Review of Higher Education 39, no. 4 (2016): 625-628.

Demaine, Jack, and Harold Entwistle, eds. Beyond communitarianism: citizenship, politics and education. Springer, 2016.

Fortunato, Piergiuseppe, and Ugo Panizza. "Democracy, education and the quality of government." Journal of Economic Growth 20, no. 4 (2015): 333-363.

Goodman, Nicole J. "Internet voting in a local election in Canada." In The Internet and Democracy in Global Perspective, pp. 7-24. Springer International Publishing, 2014.

Goodman, Nicole J., and Jon H. Pammett. "The patchwork of Internet voting in Canada." In Electronic Voting: Verifying the Vote (EVOTE), 2014 6th International Conference on, pp. 1-6. IEEE, 2014.

LeDuc, Lawrence, and Jon H. Pammett. "Attitudes toward Democratic Norms and Practices: Canada in Comparative Perspective." Canadian Democracy from the Ground Up: Perceptions and Performance (2014): 22.

Persson, Mikael. "Education and political participation." British Journal of Political Science 45, no. 03 (2015): 689-703.

Silver, Daniel, and Diana Miller. "Cultural scenes and voting patterns in Canada." Canadian Journal of Political Science 47, no. 03 (2014): 425-450.

Turcotte, Martin. "Civic engagement and political participation in Canada." Statistics Canada. www. statcan. gc. ca/pub/89-652-x/89-652-x2015006-eng. htm (2015).

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