Sadly, the United States, which at one time was considered the best place in the world to get an education, is now suffering from this very problem. You can see the proof of that in multiple aspects of American life: student debt is well over a trillion dollars, while Harvard University’s endowment fund has exceeded 37 billion dollars. Inequality has hit all-time highs, and poverty is becoming endemic while the elite talk about how well the stock market is doing. There are five empty homes for every one homeless person, but the homes cannot be given to homeless people because they exist only to generate profit, not to house those who need shelter. Commodifying education to the extent accomplished by the United States will inevitably lead to a society that does not function well, because the greatest portion of the populace is shut out of the halls of power. This imbalance of power can only lead to disaster, if it is allowed to continue long enough.
Each country that offers free post-secondary education has its own reasons for doing so,
but in all, the future of their country is certainly one of the biggest considerations when making this decision. It is interesting to note that the countries that have offered free post-secondary education at no cost for the longest are now counted among the best countries on earth to live in.
On the other side of that coin are the countries that charge money for even basic education. This creates another type of inequality – in countries where poor people are forced to choose which child they can afford to educate and which must go without, it tends to be disproportionately boys who get an education and girls who stay home. This leaves the female population at a huge disadvantage, since the pool of educated people who are available to run the country are mostly men, and women are sadly under-represented in all aspects of government. It creates more poverty, because women who have no education cannot become skilled workers, they are paid less, they can’t afford to educate their daughters, and the cycle continues.
Giving everyone the chance to excel results in many more brilliant minds in a position to improve the world – or at least some small part of it. You can never tell where the next Albert Einstein or Nicola Tesla, or even William Shakespeare will come from, so it is incredibly foolish and self-defeating for any country to block a huge portion of their people from having the chance to do their very best. Free education should be a no-brainer if we want the human race to survive and thrive.