There’s no equality without educational equity: A lesson from “Animal Farm”

Parlindungan Pardede

Universitas kristen Indonesia

Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the US Supreme Court, once accentuated the importance of educational equity for attaining equality within a nation by saying “Until we get equality in education, we won’t have an equal society.” This statement indicates that to attain equality in a nation, providing the citizens with ‘potluck’ education is not enough. The education should be equitable, which, according to OECD (2008), covers fairness (everyone, regardless of the personal and social condition, can afford it) and inclusion (everyone should be allowed to achieve a comprehensive standard). Educational inequity will only create class stratification, and, thus, will alienate equality.

This idea is exposed by George Orwell in one of his best novels, Animal Farm (1945). What is more, he further explores that the educated elite can use educational inequity as a powerful weapon to secure the masses’ compliance. In the novel, being kept to have inferior education, the other animals are unable to contest against the pigs’ manipulations. Thus, their inferior makes them unable to avoid the pigs’ exploitation over them.

Animal Farm is a fable telling about a group of animals that kick out human beings and take control of the farm they live on and an allegory of the 1917 Russian Revolution events which explores the corrupting nature of power. It starts with the animals’ secret meeting held one night in the barn in which Old  Major, the oldest pig on the farm, persuasively tells the other animals how they live in poverty and misery because human beings enslave them. Thus, to live prosperously, they should revolt against humans and run the farm by themselves. Before  closing  his  speech,  Old  Major  teaches  them  a  song  titled “Animals of England.” Not long after that, Old Major dies, but the pigs have elaborated his vision into Animalism. Two most brilliant pigs, Napoleon and Snowball, led the animals’ underground movement to expound Animalism principles to all animals. The pigs also exclusively teach themselves reading and writing and reduce Animalism into “The Seven Commandments” (which is later endorsed as the farm constitution).

One night, being very hungry because Mr. Jones’ men forget to feed them, the animals get angry and attack and kick out Mr. Jones and his men from the farm. Getting their freedom, the animals enjoy a happy life for a while. They are optimistic about a happier future by having less work, more food, and better education. However, a rivalry for power between Napoleon and Snowball emerges. Napoleon manages to expel Snowball away by having his dogs chase him. Seizing power on his hand, Napoleon exploits other animals just as Mr. Jones had done for the pigs’ advantage over time. Anytime some animals start to question Napoleon’s decision, the pigs can argue and force them …

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