Social mobility means a change in the status of an individual or group. It is the ability to move up or down the social ladder. While it is generally used to describe changes in wealth, it can also refer to general social standing or education. Societies are dynamic in nature and social mobility is a clear expression of it.
While many factors play a role in determining the extent of social mobility in a society, education can be especially effective in societies like ours where the traditional modes of stratification, like the caste system, disallow large scales of upward social mobility. There is significant evidence to prove that a lack of education often acts as a detriment to the social mobility of those who have been unable to attain it.
Reservation was introduced in India as a policy of affirmative action. This was an attempt to provide an opportunity for social mobility among the disadvantaged. It mandated for a certain number of seats in government schools and jobs to be reserved for scheduled castes and tribes. These are people who have long faced social and political discrimination. Seats are also reserved for women and minorities.
Children of high income and low income families do not have a great difference in their abilities at birth. However, the gap between their performance continues to widen as the higher income families are able to invest more and more into their children’s education. Education is often seen as a way out of poverty as it enables children from low income families to move upwards in both social and economic spheres. If provided to everyone equally, education can act as a great democratising force, cutting across the barriers of caste and class.