Understanding Britains Struggle With Credentialism Education Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Contemporary education has become overwhelmed with specialists coaching, test, prep school and grammar school, an over determination to attain perfect educational qualifications. Starting somewhere below the ages of 5, parents have become so obsessed with grooming there children to thinking at a level beyond their age. Parents are going that extra mile to secure the certificate of their child from an early age, by grooming them into continuous and strict regimes of educational prepping. It has become a widely accepted trend to place children right from for the tender age of one in to 'Preprep' school or on 3 year waiting lists to get in to these prep schools, grammar school and even 'JUKU' type school; these 'JUKU' schools will be talked about later on within this paper.

Recent speculation in the news suggests that the drive for success among 'our' children has become extremely exaggerated. By Suggesting that forms of play learning should be removed from the curriculum and be replaced with constructive numeric and literacy lessons for children age 4 to 5. The over determination to succeed, gain high levels of qualifications in order to acquire overzealous pay cheque in order to build a high social stratum, suggest that our definition of knowledge has changed; the post modern condition.

"The individual in contemporary society is not so much described by tests as constructed by them" (Allan Hanson, 1994)

Since the dawn of industrialisation there has been a stress in the level of capacity an individual has in terms of their own thinking ability and their talent to exercise social responsibility. The notion of modernism dwells on the idea the people are able to situate themselves in self motivation subjects. Modernism is all about the progression of science technology and rationality, the desire to exceed and explore the capacity and boundaries of our thinking abilities. The education process 'provides the socialising process and the legitimating codes by which the grand narratives of progress and human development can be passed on to the future generation' (Aronowitz.S)

Over the last decade the need for qualification has out rightly changed the way in which education is desires there for in a way created different roles of educators and the various institutes of education. The narratives that structured public schooling were drawn from a view of the individual student and educators as the guarantor of the balance between public and private life. Almost like a safeguard with the task of guarantying that the economy and the democratic state continue to function. It is therefore our personal talents that are to be invested in to the public state.

The postmodern condition redefines the meaning of schooling and knowledge.

The education given is about exam techniques with specific interest in the maths science and English subjects and very little time for the arts and self expression. These new systems of learning become a system of regulating future economical and social discourse and performativitiy (how and what is necessary to think, what roles occupations we should play in society, which roles are of importance and which aren't).

Students are entered in to schools and embark on a journey to post secondary learning and future careers choices at a young age. After finishing their GCSE's and A levels students are given a 'choice' from the option of attending college, university or going straight in to work. However, vast amounts of pressure is always placed on students attending university as it is said to be the only way they will get highly paid jobs and be successful.

Assessments in form of exams, tests, essay and projects become ways of determining our individual worth within out social and economic communities. Assessments are in such a powerful act, powerful enough to even shape our own personal perceptions of how we understand our self's and our surrounding environment. It doesn't not solely measure what is apparent and already there talents we possess and are practically able to establish in a successful manner, but rather it creates what is measured directly impacting what and how we learn.

Universities and colleges are viewed as places where pupils will earn diplomas, certificates and degrees, so that they will be within in a better chance of being chosen over another person who has fewer credentials than they do(less worth than themselves), when applying for a job interest. This kind of grooming is also to encourage high levels of competitiveness amongst class mates, friends, peer groups and colleagues.

In order to succeed students are continuous told by their parents and teachers (as well as academic advises such as 'connexions') that they must attend university, as it is the only way to make it in any profession and make something of yourself in today's society, especially when the country is hit with economic crisis's such as the recession, were under qualified employees are made redundant

However having a university degree does not necessarily give a person the upper hand when it comes to employment, as each year hundreds of graduate students fall in to full time employment upon leaving university. The whole notion of gaining qualification as a means of bettering our social and financial status has total made the need and love of knowledge redundant.

School, colleges and places of higher institutionalized learning were once, and should be places to expand knowledge and specialize in topics/subjects and issues of interest. But today students and coxed in to taking modules and subjects with which they may have previously have had problems within high school.

Education has become big business. The financial motivation is to acquire the technique to pass these exams, a technique not taught in mainstream schools. 165,000 children yearly are now experiencing a grammar school education, or are undergoing prep at least 2years before and for their exams.

Due to societies new standards students believe they need to spend even more years in University so that they will be seen as better suited for a job. Society has made student feel as if they need to attend universities, therefore creating such a high standard which has lead to even high difficulty in actually obtaining a job. Education is far more important than spending several years gaining credentials in a specific subject that doesn't interest you or that has no relevance to what you want to do the rest of your life.

What is the diploma disease

Credentialism as know as the diploma disease or education inflation introduced by Ronald Dore, is about the over reliance on degrees, certificates and credentials, it is related to the idea that schools and universities create a mind frame that equates credentials with qualifications. It a simple fact that today it is believed that our importance is equal to the sum of the abbreviation placed after our names e.g. PhD, MD etc.

Ronald Dore argues that not all schooling is education, but mere educational or qualification earning. The diplomas disease continues to prosper mainly because of the myth that education improves people standard of live, and that by undergoing excessive procedure to access this level of 1st class education which will contribute to their future, they are indeed getting more for their money. The credentialist approach holds that schools become more examination oriented at the expense of a genuine education.

This drive to grasp the best credential and its affect on the educational systems within in London, is a movement that originally surfaced in light of the Japanese modernity process, touch upon the American educational system, now creating a stir within the British learning system. The focus of this essay is to assess the extent to which Britain has become consumed with using education/ degrees and certificated as a means of social, economical and global, justification and stratification. Finding out if it is possible as a nation or country to use educational levels to prove its self at a superior stage of modernity, if as individuals the possession of certificates of educational achievement.

Literature review

The diploma disease surfaced and became endemic within the era of the industrial society. Its impact tends to be much more serious within tropical countries (under developed or developing countries).

The need for assessment and exams

Within Europe examinations began innocently enough, introduced due to the need for greater expertise in fields of importance, such as government, medicine and other profession of that nature alike. Also with a much needed desire to put a stop to the levels of benefaction of nepotism as means to a selection process for particular jobs which then only benefit those in higher social hiatus. The introduction of exams sort to bridge the gap between the ability of those of no experience in social positions and those with the capabilities but from unimportant and lower class backgrounds and meet these needs.

With time those that devised the examinations, allowed for the exam fever to take a spiral and eventually lost control and the examination took on a life of its own, beginning as tests of competence evolving in to job market admissions. Schools, colleges and university responded to the access to greater professions by taking responsibilities for examination and adjusting subjects to meet demands for particular career profession.

People of lower professions and vocation sort that they can improve their status, by demanding that their practices should hold some level of education: a diploma. So the need for a diploma spread as a requirement even for jobs such as hotel management. Employer's themselves found that using schools and university exams would become a fair and usefully means of filtering, when selecting candidates for jobs.

Europe's educational institutions have found them self in a situation of harbouring a control in the diploma market, this domination has its consequences of putting the accurate functioning of society at jeopardy; which is educating its people.

Diploma disease in developing countries

The origins of the diploma disease came from the late industrialisation of Japan. A nation set back by years of war, and dictatorship. Japans industrialism was like that of the peaceful and successfulness of America 'new nation'. In that it was able to establish a successful and subsequent economic, social and political system of government after disembarking from colonial rules, resulted in civil feuds and war.

The lateness in the economic development of Japan made for the widely use of education certificates as occupational selection filtering device, simply making people eligible for selection and less about developing human capacity, such characteristic's are now seen with in the British system of learning especially in higher education.

There seems to be a continuous prevailing misconception about the amount of education an individual receives; the more educated a society is the more advances a society is likely to be. When facts evidently show that in most cases were a society places an over reliance on education, it becomes rendered as useless (education).

Within the mid and late 18th century the Chinese elites of their time, were extremely and very highly educated and learned however that did not make them immune to social decline, in fact china experienced if not one of the greatest recorded economic declines.

Japan has been able to come to an understanding that total reliance on education is not a guarantee to social reform, take this understanding Japan has been the only country to use education and a tactic to social reform, by adapting their learning programme continuously. The education surrounding Japan emphasizes in particular management, technological innovation, military science, western language, history literature, and philosophy and up until recently painting and music; upon considering the recognizable success it has brought within recent years especially toward western parts of the world.

Japan has been in problematic situations where there has been a need to adapt to world changes in order to continue its existence, especially on emerging from feudal isolation in 1960, Japan has been extremely successful and has managed to climb up world hierarchy ladder to world power status, the education of the country's elite has played a vital role in this. (Educational escalation at its best).

Japans late industrialism began in the 1850's were the notion of development and success became a goal to strive for. By 1871 japan had sent its poltians in to the western world to observe the ways of development and investigate there flaws. These ways were introduction to there newly formed state however not be fore reforming them and adapting them to suit there proud national identity.

The coming the industrial period was a quiet and relatively peaceful one just as successful as that of America 'new nation'. Japan was able to establish a very successful and subsequent system of economic, political and social for their government unlike states as such located in Europe which after disembarking from the colonial ruling, found them self's in civil war. Japan has been able to establish high levels of education, technology and development as well as maintaining very low levels of crimes.

The Japanese are overwhelmed with the acquiring of certificates, diplomas and degrees, which indeed we have already established earlier, this all allows for the acquiring of executive paid jobs. However the orientation of the educational system doesn't allow for time to conduct any other form of physical activity, therefore contribution to criminal activity slim.

There systems of school are so intense with schooling hours of 14hours and 6day classes an academic year thats consists of 250 days of education which is madetory, only gives a little bit of the insight about the monster japan has created in the form of juku schools.

Juku schools are a kind of school in which primary or secondary school student take lessons besides their regular school lessons. Approximately 60% of Japanese high school students attend these supplement lessons.

Yobiko schools are becoming just as significantly important as juku school, this is stiplted by watanabe reiko in juku: the other face of Japanese education system. These schools are dedecated to college and pre university students that have already failed, run the risk of failing there entrance exam or and are attempting to entire university.juku for high school students must compete fot enrollnment with yobiko.

These schools consist of rigous additional lessons and extended days which go on in the late evening hours and provide additional homework. Crams school usually posse a primarly private nature of practice particularly established for profit. These schools attract students from all ecological district 's and thrive in japan were it is widely believd that everyone has the same intellectual capacity and it is only the 'efforts of the individual that act as restrictions'. (watanabe reiko, 1

Juju ranges widely in size, some lessons can even be given privately at homes and others can be withing halls that have the capacity to hold over a hundred students. Costs of the private lessons vary between the figures of 55,100 to 84,000 yen on average; big businesss in japan.

More than 40% of primary school children and 77.2% secondary school students in tokoyo alone attend cram schools, parents spend approximately 127,000 and 210,000

Example of fee's and classes:

The Uwajima Juku ...... suburban area ã€€

    1. Elementary school students Grade 1 - Grade 5   

Subject ... 2  Kokugo ( Reading and Composition ) , Math ............. 1 lesson, 60 minutes   

Tuition ......A set of 2 subjects......................... Yen 6,000  a week     

If only one subject .....................................Yen 4,000  a week  

   【Note】  1 dollar = 120 Yen 

    2. Elementary school students Grade 6 ã€€ã€€

Subject .... 3  Kokugo, Math & English ........................ 1 lesson, 60 minutes   

Tuition ...... A set of 3 subjects.......................Yen 9,000 a week     

If only one subject.....................................Yen 4,000 a week 

    3. Junior high school students Grade 1- Grade 3 (like Grade 7 - Grade 9 in the U.S.)   

Subject ... 5  English, Math, Kokugo ( Reading ,Composition and a little literature ), Science, Social-study.............................1 lesson, 75 minutes  

Tuition .... A set of 5 subjects.........................Yen 12,000 2 weeks           A set of 2 subjects...........................  Yen 6,500 2 weeks


(Education ministry;1996)

In japan were exam competition is at its fiercest, 7 out og 10 children in the 15- 16 age range sitting senior high school exams attend jukus, a report in the far economic review said. Across japna, the proportion of primary school students attending juku rose from 16.5% in 1985 to 44.5% in 1990.

Diploma disease in western countries

Diploma disease and national identity

Original thoughts on diploma disease

Within Dore's 1976 publication (get name of book), he describes the diploma disease as a phenomenon or way of life which is drifting towards only achieving higher levels of education, in order to stay competitive within the work place. Dore's work has raised a number of questions related to the usefulness of the current education, especial because his work suggests that not all schooling is education; by qualification earning.

He's claims that education indicates learning, which is about mastering a particular area, and learning for pleasure. Suggesting that schooling where as implies certification for job attainment or career advancement it becomes the primary goal.

Education is solely about teaching schooling models, Ronald claim is that this is so in order to assist with job selection. Education is now very rarely pursued for the love of learning and bettering the mind, instead is for the promotion of a means to an end which is job attainment. Dore argues that this kind of conclusion fuels the qualification inflation fire.

Ten to twenty years on

Dore relates educational over compensation to countries in developmental stages (like in the case of Japan). He attempts to explain that the later in the world economics and history a country evolves the more disastrous the consequences of the grade inflation are on the society. Now this is an argument that has been continuously debated upon, as Japan is a prime example of a nation that develop relatively late in history, underwent numerous engagement in war, and has used education to water the growth of the society, now in a position of world power. He claims that the outcome can only be detrimental, with an extreme effect on the employability of individuals. Critics see this as an exaggeration.

This phenomenon is now ever so present throughout both developing and developing states, by more so in developing states. "This is the cause, because it serves to enhance dualistic developmental patterns present" within the developing world school education. Now, the prosperity of education escalation remains because of the myth; education = improvement of people< money.


Has Britain truly become a Credentialist Society? Or is all the talk of diploma diease just media propaganda or some kind of hypochondriac effect of the educational policy theorist in response to Ronald Dore's original criticism of modern education?

In understanding japans origins will this allow for an answer to questions of whether educational inflation is indeed a negative factor, hence its name disease given title, with the need of some kind of assessment of severity and provision of a cure?

Or has there been a huge ruckus for no reason, as the excessive reliance on Education is a benefit and will advantage our society (in this case Britain) the same way it has Japan?

Did the presence of Nihonjinron, play a part in the creation of the Japanese diploma disease?


The investigation into the diploma disease has been conducted within the use of a comparative analysis. A comparative analysis has been used in this instance because of the lack of primary information regarding the topic, as well as the limitation to the available literature on and in Britain, Comparing Britain to another country in this case Japan was necessary as it gave an indication as to which direction Britain is heading; destruction or extreme super state development.

Japan was choose particularly because is has already suffered and overcome the disease. Also it is a late developing state, having both extremes; early industrial state and late industrial state there is a high possibility of getting a well rounded understand of the phenomenon its self from both spectrums especially were there are no particular studies on the subject

Using a comparative analysis as a method helped in exploring the similarities between Japan and Britain's, giving an outcome as to whether Britain will be able to make progressive steps in terms of benefiting the society, because it is infected in such the way Japan was affected and therefore act in accordance with Japan, or whether the eye of the storm is the least of there worry's as they are in no way similar to Japan and are unable to recover after the passing of the storm.

It has also allowed for the opportunity to observe whether Britain is able to come up with a personal strategy to deal with such a phenomenon or if mimicking a country that has already come out on the other side is there route to success.

A review of all media and literature representation on the topic was examined and noted upon, the opinions of public and private learning institutions as well as parents, students and children were taking in to consideration also. Examples of the main articles on Japan used; "'the creativity problems' and the future of the Japanese workforce", were taken from the Far Economic Review. Articles were used as there aren't many Japanese education based books available with the concerned topic.

The review of sources used will vary from online sources, articles and archives, news articles, reference only and written available literature .The representation of the new British culture of education will be compare to the Japanese continuing way of life.

The use of Ronald Dore's 'The Diploma Disease' has acted as the foundation and support for the research on the spread of the subject its self, Publically announcing the presence of the subject within the British system for the first time within his 1976 publication of the book. Most of the finding and solutions to the problems will be referred back to his work. It plays a more interesting part in this research as Dore is a British sociologist and has spend some time teaching within Japan

The particular choice in methodology helped in investigating why Britain has resulted in becoming so dependent on educational hot houses e.g. cram school, and what the effects of enrolling a child at an early in to a ongoing process of strict schooling has on the child and their perception of them self as a child how and if that perception of one's worth as a child changes on becoming an adult and their ability to adapt to real life, work scenarios and sociability.

Great interest in Juku, cram and the British equivalent: hot house were looked in to with great interest; the purpose and techniques. The investigation in to their definition, roles and successfulness was based around archives and journals.

By exploring the full extent of the diploma disease within the educational system and exploring how far and to what extent British parents have gone to secure the futures of their children. As well as exploring the history behind the origin of the diploma disease within Japan,

In analysing the full impact of credentialism on its social structure, and whether or not it is of an advantage or a disadvantage to them, comparison and conclusion were made on the possible outcome of the British society, its members and system.

Both Japan and Britain have been placed side by side and looked at, with the intention of observing how they both ended up the 'diploma disease' how both individually dealt with the systems the full blown disease, methods of coming up with a solution, the application of the solution and the response . The contrasts of the both countries in interest helped in getting a side of a cultures that has is not very published; looking at the way the diploma disease had negatively affected Japan ; finding cases studies on Japan that shine light on the negative effects of educational inflation has proven to be minutely difficult. I have found that this has a lot to do with the preservation of their national identity sometimes referred to do with; Nihonjinron. Nihonjinron act as a further explanation as to why extreme pressure is placed on our kids and students particularly with Japan, however it also gives an alternative explanation for diploma disease in Britain also, more so now than in previous decades.

My case study is based on a personal experience, which I happened to accidently stumble on upon attending my nieces parents evening, where the importance of the night was to prepare the children for their keys stage 2 exams. It is particularly important as it expresses a seriousness on the effect of assessment on individuality, especially that of a child not old enough to know the true reasoning behind schooling.

The meeting with the teacher and the talk with my niece, prompted me to as similar questions of why you think we study; what do your results say about you etc to my cousin of 20 and my sister of 15, and in the same instance record what they say about the issue at hand.


There has been a massive misconception that education is determines by the number of hours in the classroom, or other forms of academic settings.

Japanese style schools have become powerful forces within Asia and has slowly but surely made its way across the seas and not is very much present within Britain. There strength is drawn from the moulding and manipulating of child and parent anxiousness, whilst offering sophisticated techniques that have mastered for passing exams. These schools generate more competition. And by raising the national pass levels, more exams are being made much more difficult ( within British news there has been of recent within new, especially surrounding examination period concerning how easy the exam have gotten, with talks of producing harder exams ).

Whilst individual students and parents may show great gratitude to theses cram/ intensive learning schools for helping them pass.

There is such an over emphasis on examination success and the encouragement 'elitism'. This just so happens to be the outcome of long hours and indefatigable half-truths. Young kids have become almost if not more hard working and just as busy as adults within executive professions even before being admitted in to university institutions.

Education once had a broader and deeper meaning, and according to Dore, it will be a long time, or very unlikely that we will be able to return to LEARNING, which is not about being confined to time nor to space, 'it is an attitude', a constant search for learning founded on authentic and inspirable curiosity. An educated person is not only a person who knows a large amount about a specific topic or enough about general

Knowledge, but it also a person who wishes to continually learn in any circumstance, ask question, reflects, fail all in order to gain knowledge and wisdom.

"They work to pass not to know, they pass but they do not know" (T.H.Huxley)

Europe's over reliance on business and education has cause education to become a big business (Technological innovation and competitive scope play a hand in this) ( it has only been up until recent that Britain's executives have needed to have obtained a qualification, once upon a time there was only a need for business skills and some form of experience. Now they must be prepared with global knowledge "an ethical compass as well as committed citizenship and business acumen") (T. H. Huxley) losing its value and moulding in to the shape of commercialism; all brought about by the era of globalisation. The world is undergoing highlighted transformation, and Europe is no more less at risk, as globalisation is no longer dominated by Europe and the other western world powers and will continue to be much less so.

My investigations have found that some theory's behind the 'diploma disease' see high birth rates and falling infant mortality rates as a factor that is intensifying and spreading educational escalation, also as an effect. The understanding is that due to increased birth rates there are increasing numbers of enrolment and acceptance in to schools, therefore forcing many governments in to cutting public spending on areas such as healthcare and social services in order to assist with support of tuition and funding of new learning organisation and programmes.

Dore's input to this notion goes as far as stating that the increase of individuals enrolled has created an increase in competition therefore resulting in a 'very steep' decline in the health status of individuals.

On discovery as well as the increase in birth rate, the lack of available jobs, fewer employers willing to give jobs, has had a lasting impression contributing towards the global education crisis, particularly with jobs in the modern sector, as a result the disease continue to increase rapidly.

At the time of increasing educational provision and limited jobs, schooling becomes a positional goal, whos value depends on how many people have it. The more widely used education certificates are for occupational selection, the faster the rate of qualification iflation and the examination-orientated schooling becomes at the expense of a genuine education.

Is education really suiting its purpose

At an individual level seeking to gain credentials is perfectly rational, however becomes problematic at a policy level

Indiidual perceptions- case study


Within the last couple of decades there have been numerous attempts, proposals and theories behind the possible eradication of the diploma disease. With the diploma disease, within Dore's latest addition of the diploma disease 1997 he makes a couple of suggestion; these proposals he believes can be used to not only turn the state of education, educational practise and perception of one's self but also assist persons and people gain entry into the workforce, while avoiding many of the problems accompanied as a results of qualification earning.

However for his proposals to become effective it requires the entire transformation of the educational system. Change coming from top end of the hierarchy, streaming down to the bottom in to society, with the use of a long agenda approach (add name) or policy to allow the full effect of reform. This has the consequence of transforming the entire work force system.

Dore's suggestions are that if individuals are able to start their working careers at an early age or at earlier stages in their life and as well as do as much of the selection tests (aptitude testing) as possible, while transforming all higher learning education and training in to career learning, suggestively part time. The genuine nature of educational learning will be legitimated once again without affecting schooling.

Another idea proposed for the separation of vocational schooling from educational learning is suggestively through providing selection tests were it is needed. And according to Dore this will helping avoid learning for achievements, these tests will not be need to be 'crammed', that alone act as the whole notion for change, to avoid cramming for learned inexperienced achievements.

Dore's proposal to put people into work force early and the creating of vocational aptitude or some form of selection testing should be heavily critiqued as these are schemes that are unable to take effect immediately or anytime soon at that. This is the case because in order for them to be executed, a total reconstruction of not only the educational system will be needed but a complete demolition and reorganisation of the entire social structure as a whole, every last aspect.


How much we are a individuals are affected

Why we need to change the way education is struced for the benefit of self preservation.

If people are doing well more and more based on talent and ability... does that put education on the verge of being usless?


Postmodern education; politics, culture and social criticism. Stanley aronowitz, Henry. A. giroux