Danes receive education as a privilege while Americans have to pay

Amalie Davidsen
Opinion Writer
adavidse@unca.edu

Education is a privilege, not a right.

Growing up, it was not a question whether I would get an education or not. It was really not a question for anybody in my surroundings, either. Everyone had equal opportunities to go to college.

In Denmark, college is a basic right. Everyone is granted the opportunity to get a degree, with your high school grades determining which path you can choose. There are possibilities for everybody who received a high school diploma to attend college.

Some people choose not to attend high school, but they can still get an education on a more practical level, such as a carpentry education. If you do not get an education, and are not fit to work, the tax money paid by the working man provides you monthly government support until you are able to contribute to society.

Danish kids have no rush in life. Education can wait. Therefore, the majority of Danish high school graduates take a “Sabbath year” or two, working and traveling until they know which education path they want to follow.

It is very rare to see college students younger than 20 at Danish universities. In America, I felt old my freshman year coming in as a 19-year-old, having classes with kids as young as 16 years old. I had almost just finished middle school by the age of 15 or 16, so that was for sure a cultural change for me.

Before coming to America and experiencing how much money students pay to go to college, I surely took my Danish right to education for granted. I did not ever have to worry about my future like regular American students have to.

In Denmark, we seem to pay higher taxes than in America, but I am not entirely sure if that is true. By paying taxes, the Danish people are granted major social benefits such as free health care, free education, paid maternity leave and SU, student support money given every month when enrolled in school. This is probably what strong American Republicans define as ‘awful’ socialism.

As a foreigner to American history and the government system, this fear of socialism seems extremely odd to me, and I know for a fact it is possible to be filthy rich and pay high taxes.

The American education system traps people who do not have the money to get their desired degree. I am aware of the opportunities of getting both academic and athletic scholarships, but what about the unathletic people who did not get straight A’s in high school and cannot afford a college degree? They passed high school, but now they are stuck with a diploma that cannot take them further in the system unless they take out student loans most likely haunting them until the day they die. Does that not make education a privilege for the already fortunate and rich in society? And is that fair?

Some people go through life with major social, economic and academic disadvantages. Some will make and break that and be successful in life, but people will also see themselves stuck with disadvantages until the day they die. At least those people deserve equal rights to get an education and create a brighter path for themselves and their families. A lack of education feeds off of poverty, and people trapped in the evil circle of poverty.

I have met a lot of people who believe education is not a right, it is a privilege, a privilege everyone can obtain if they just work hard enough. I truly believe this is a weak argument and is easy to argue for the people that already are and have been privileged for all their lives.

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