Examples and Effects of Social Inequality in Education

In educational institutions, inequality is often related to access and outcomes. Equality ensures that every student has equal access to a high-quality education regardless of their social background. It also ensures that all students are accountable to the same standards and objectives without taking into account their circumstances, abilities, or experiences. However, in inequality, there may be an unequal distribution of the same.

According to Gunn (2018),

“Equality is the provision of equal treatment, access, and opportunity to resources and opportunities. Essentially, everyone gets the same thing, regardless of where they come from or what needs they might have.”

Examples of Social Inequality In Education

Social Stratification

Social stratification is an ancient practice. Since ancient times, there exists a difference between the rich and the poor, the landowners and the laborers, and the like. This has led to the practice of social stratification and inequality even in the modern age.

Gender Inequality

Inequality on the grounds of gender is pretty common even in today’s age. Male teachers may be more partial toward female learners while some female teachers may be more partial toward male learners.

Caste System

The caste system in public educational institutions is based on the transmission of lifestyle, hereditary, and endogamy that involves a hierarchy of status, occupation, and customary social practice of exclusion that revolves around purity. In ancient India, there existed a practice called ‘untouchability’. Individuals who belonged to low caste were not allowed to enter temples and were treated with discrimination. They were considered to be impure and therefore, regarded as untouchables.

Class System

The selection of students in many areas is based on social class and status is the ranking of individuals and groups on a social hierarchy. This ranking depends on the honor, prestige, wealth, and property held by an individual or group in society. In social stratification, inequality is based entirely on social factors and not on biological factors. Social stratification is different in every society. For instance, the Aryan society was segregated into the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Sudras.

Family Background

The family background of the learners also plays a critical role in their teaming as teachers who are familiar with the parents of the learners may give them special treatment.

Parental Income

The income of parents is a huge determining factor when it comes to equality in education as those with high income can enroll the kids in good schools and they may also receive preferential treatment.


Religious inequality is one of the most common forms of inequality when it comes to admission to educational institutions. Stronger religious communities hold power and dominance over relatively weaker communities which arises conflict and communal disturbance in society. It leads to social problems such as communal conflict, religious hate crimes, differences of opinion, and violence that would not be present had there been no religious stratification in the society. This segregation leads to inequality in rewards and opportunities.

Effects of Social Inequality in Education

Access to Education Equality

Children belonging to poor families may receive education in schools with poor infrastructure, and a lack of teachers and facilities while those with good economical backgrounds may send their children to private and elite schools.

Lack of Motivation

When students do not have proper facilities and adequate resources to learn, they may feel demotivated.

Incomplete Education

Due to the practice of inequality, many learners may feel like within studies and may discontinue their education.

Academic Performance

Inequality in the classroom can also impact the academic performance of the learners.

Lack of Facilities

Learners belonging to a poor social and economic background may not have the facilities of a private tutor and the like.

These are a few of the effects inequality in the classroom can have on the learners. Therefore, it is essential to take steps towards eradicating the same.