Education Empowering the Powerless

Empowerment is the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities. This enables them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. It is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights. Empowerment as action refers both to the process of self-empowerment and to professional support of people, which enables them to overcome their sense of powerlessness and lack of influence, and to recognize and use their resources. Merriam Webster dictionary defines empower as “to give official authority or legal power to” “to enable, or to promote self-actualization or influence”.

In this way of thinking, power is given to the “powerless” from some external agent who presumably has the ability to impart power. The recipient is almost a passive receiver, powerless until power is bestowed unto him or her to act influence or have control over decisions that affect his or her life. Empowerment comes from both inside and outside. People and systems are affected by the socio-historical contexts in which external and internal factors both constrain and afford power to exert control over various aspects of life. We are empowered to the extent that our intellectual, cultural, social, spiritual political and economic capitals allow us to navigate various social contexts.

Education creates self-confidence, self-esteem, self-sufficiency to a person. It brings light of hope; increases social, political, intellectual, cultural, and religious consciousness; broadens the length of mind; removes all kinds of bigotry, narrowness, superstition and enhances fellow-feeling, tolerance etc. Empowered people will be able to participate in decision-making, policy formulation and implementation of different policies and programs. Education plays a great role in this sphere.

Poverty and illiteracy are intertwined with one another. Poor people are mostly uneducated or lowly educated. This mass of uneducated people feels one kind of powerlessness. They feel some invisible forces from outside are controlling their lives. This powerless and inferior attitude creates a sense of intimidation. They began to depend on fortune, luck, destiny and above all God or supernatural elements. With attainment of education and knowledge, people can overcome these problems. Empowered individuals (and systems) are people who see themselves as agents of change. Empowered educators believe in their own capabilities to exercise influence over events that affect student learning.

Empowered individuals and organizations operate from a position of strength and believe that they are able to shape the future, while effectively addressing the needs of the present. Empowering education is about individuals and educational systems learning how to tap into their internal assets and how to leverage external resources. Empowering education is about effectively navigating various social and political contexts and negotiating relationships to bring about educational equity and positive outcomes for all students.

Education constitutes the instrument of social transformation and development. Elementary education empowers people providing basic information and skill and higher education enhance their capabilities to enter any field or profession.

Empowerment is the process by which the disempowered or powerless people can change their circumstances and begin to have control over their lives. It is a process by which the disempowered can change the equation of power, their living conditions, and their existing unequal conditions.

Empowerment will occur only if education is used creatively by active participation in the economy and society. lack of education basically rural women is not able to active participation in decision making, political process, employment of profitable jobs and deprives from enjoyment of their rights. Education will help people to make themselves aware about the different programs taken for their empowerment of their rights their importance for social development, education of the women will also facilitate knowledge of nutrition, sanitation and equal status of son and daughter.

Empowerment of the powerless is an essential part of human resource development. The powerless can play a vital role in the social, economic, and political development of the society. Empowerment of the powerless is a way of building up their intellect, capability, and potential for participation in social progress.

It opens doors to the job market, combats inequality, improves maternal health, reduces child mortality, fosters solidarity, and promotes environmental stewardship. Education empowers people with the knowledge, skills and values they need to build a better world.


1. “No one is born fully-formed: it is through self-experience in the world that we become what we are.” -Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
2. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.” -Alice Walker.
3. “The aim of education is to empower the powerless through knowledge, not of facts, but of values.” -Brandon Arnold John.
4. “Education makes the powerless easy to lead and govern, but impossible enslave!” -Brandon Arnold John.
5. “Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.” -Michelle Obama
6. Education is what differentiates us from other living beings on earth. It makes man the smartest creature on earth. It empowers humans and gets them ready to face challenges of life efficiently. -Anonymous.
7. The ultimate aim of power is empowering the powerless.
- Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, Former Minister of Education.


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