The One Who Opens a School Door Closes a Prison.

The One Who Opens a School Door Closes a Prison

The following article, “The One Who Opens a School Door Closes a Prison.”, is written by Sara Khan, a student of Sir Syed Kazim Ali. Moreover, the article is written on the same pattern, taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. Sir Kazim has uploaded his students’ solved past paper questions so other thousands of aspirants can understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.

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1- Introduction

Education is a transformative force that breaks the chains of ignorance and paves the way for societal progress, thus allowing people to discern right and wrong, induce critical thinking, generate progressive ideas, and promote social mobility.

2- Deconstructing the statement “HThe One Who Opens a School Door Closes a Prison.

3- How can education shut the gates to the prison of ignorance?

  • ✓Allowing people to differentiate between right and wrong
    • Case in Point: Translating the Holy Bible into the vernacular language stopped the practice of indulgences of the Catholic Church.
  • ✓Encouraging civic engagement and a sense of responsibility
    • Case in point: The active role of the young Iranian students in the Mahsa Amini case
  • ✓Inducing critical thinking skills and avoiding the risk of indoctrination
    • Case in point: Students in Pakistan having a strong educational background are less likely to fall prey to the Taliban’s brainwashing agendas, The Human Rights Watch.
  • ✓Promoting social mobility and providing employment opportunities
    • Case in point: South Korea’s educational investment led to a wide-scale economic boom.
  • Fostering the spirit of tolerance and mutual understanding
    • Case in point: Holocaust Education Programs nurturing peace and reconciliation among different ethnic groups in Germany
  • ✓Encouraging progressive ideas and supporting non-conformist thinking
    • Case in point: Socrates’ defiance of conventional norms gave birth to philosophical inquiry.

4- What happens when people are deprived of their right to education?

  • Lack of education leading to a dystopian world
    • The 1994 Rwandan Genocide
    • Third-world countries, like Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen, are struggling with some of the lowest literacy rates.

5- Critical Analysis
6- Conclusion

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Answer to the Question


Education is a beacon of light that dispels the shadows of ignorance and steers man towards the illuminated path of enlightenment. It is a powerful tool that unlocks the doors of knowledge and empowerment, enabling individuals to pursue their dreams and contribute to the development of their communities. For instance, the world’s most prosperous societies, whether the ancient Greek civilization or modern-day America, owe their success to their education systems, demonstrating Victor Hugo’s statement: ‘He who opens a school door, closes a prison.’ Although the maxim’s literal meaning points out education’s role in crime prevention, in the symbolic context, it has become a widely quoted aphorism that illustrates the significance of education in advancing society and reducing social evils. Furthermore, education combats barbarism by allowing people to differentiate between right and wrong, inducing critical thinking, generating progressive ideas, and promoting social mobility. However, the deprivation of education gives birth to a dystopian world marked by great suffering and injustice. Thus, education has become an indispensable requirement for mankind as its absence would lead to an ultimate collapse. The question expounds on how education aligns with Hugo’s notions of it as a transformative force, breaking the chains of ignorance and paving the way for societal progress.

Deconstructing the statement “The One Who Opens a School Door Closes a Prison.”

Victor Hugo, the French writer and senator, might have coined the phrase to endorse education as a means of preventing crime, which indeed is one of the many ways to eliminate illiteracy. Nevertheless, the statement’s interpretation is not confined to a specific setting; it extends beyond crime prevention and echoes across different situations, emphasizing the universal importance of education as a revolutionary instrument for personal and societal change. Therefore, in the phrase, the ‘opening of a school door’ symbolizes the beginning of a bright future, whereas ‘the closing of prison’ represents the conclusion of injustice and misery. In short, education is the vital force that fosters positive change in different spheres of life and improves the world.

How can education shut the gates to the prison of ignorance?

Allowing people to differentiate between right and wrong

At the outset, education empowers people to discern right and wrong by equipping them with the skills to compare two entities and analyze them objectively. To illustrate, John Wycliffe’s translation of the Holy Bible from Latin to the vernacular language gave the then-Christians first-hand access to the book. Learning the scripture themselves, people began to spot disparities between the Bible’s actual teachings and its adulterated versions promoted by the Catholic Church. Consequently, many corrupted practices were banned, including indulgences – the sale of forgiveness of sins. Hence, access to proper education leads to forming a well-informed society.

Encouraging civic engagement and a sense of responsibility

Next, education encourages civic engagement and fosters responsibility in the citizens. It teaches them about social issues and their role in addressing them, subsequently inspiring them to contribute to the common good and fight against oppression. For instance, the educated youth of Iran, particularly the student class, played a significant role in the 2022 Mahsa Amini case by raising awareness against the brutality of Iran’s morality police and inspiring others to confront social injustices. As a result, people throughout the globe stood in solidarity with the protestors’ demands, and the Iranian government faced severe backlash for its draconian laws. In brief, education catalyzes civic engagement in raising awareness and promoting social justice.

Inducing critical thinking skills and avoiding the risk of indoctrination

Furthermore, education plays a crucial role in developing a spirit of open-mindedness in people and protecting them from the risk of indoctrination. An educated person with critical thinking skills is less prone to fall prey to any illogical propaganda. For example, the stereotypical ‘mullah culture’ in Pakistan leads youngsters to misinterpret Islam, and they end up committing heinous crimes. However, as per the report by Human Rights Watch, Students with strong educational backgrounds in Pakistan are less likely to be involved in acts of terrorism compared to those who are under the guidance of the militants. Thus, education broadens an individual’s outlook and equips him with knowledge and skills used to navigate life. Malcolm Forbes has aptly said,

“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”

Promoting social mobility and providing employment opportunities

Moving forth, quality education also helps individuals overcome socioeconomic disadvantages by improving their chances of climbing the upward hierarchy of social mobility and reducing intergenerational inequality. A glaring example is demonstrated in South Korea’s educational investment, which has led to wide-scale economic success. To explain, the country’s high levels of technical and vocational education programs provided its people with millions of legal, highly-paid job opportunities, which, in turn, contributed to the prevention of criminal behaviour up to a great extent. Hence, it would not be an exaggeration to say education helps have the best of both worlds.

Fostering the spirit of tolerance and mutual understanding

Not only this, tolerance and mutual understanding are the chief characteristics of a literate society. An educated person believes in the peaceful co-existence of communities and protects the inalienability of human rights, regardless of racial, religious, or linguistic disparities. Instances of this harmonious relationship are vividly portrayed in ‘Germany’s Holocaust Education Program,’ a denazification project consisting of museums, memorials, and educational institutions in the country that are dedicated to fostering tolerance and educating Germans about the devastating legacy of the Holocaust. Thus, only education has the potential to make a nation as stern as Germany, accept its mistakes, and adopt the principles of cooperation.

Encouraging progressive ideas by supporting non-conformist thinking

Lastly, education fights ignorance by endorsing non-conformist thinking and progressive ideas. Exposure to diverse perspectives broadens a person’s understanding of the world, thereby challenging the conventional norms forming one’s opinions based on reason and intellect. To illustrate, Socrates’ defiance of conventional wisdom famously questioned the authority of the Sophists and the Athenian government. The Socratic Method promoted progress by expanding intellectual inquiry – a philosophy which, ultimately, became a cornerstone of the Western school of thought. In short, had it not been for education, the world would still be in intellectual servitude.

What happens when people are deprived of their right to education?

Lack of education leads to a dystopian world.

Conversely, the lack of education leads to a dystopian world of tyranny and immense misery. For instance, the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, a brutal carnage that took thousands of innocent lives, is a stark reminder of how educational deprivation could lead to ignorance, chaos, and, ultimately, violence. Furthermore, even if the country manages to get away with mass homicides, it persistently stays on the last rung of the ladder, facing a myriad of socioeconomic challenges. Many third-world countries, like Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria, demonstrate how illiteracy exacerbates problems, creating a vicious cycle of poverty and under-development. Therefore, investing in education has become a dire need if the world wants sustainable development and prosperity.

Critical Analysis

In the final analysis, although apparently literate, the modern world persists in being plagued with deep-rooted ignorance in various forms, whether unrecognized or clear. This is evident in the issues as meagre as disregarding health warnings on a pack of cigarettes or as severe as conflicting over climate change’s factual or fictitious nature. Nonetheless, it must not be overlooked that the ancient epistemologists have declared knowledge as the cure to all ills of barbarism. Therefore, education serves as a panacea to all the problems arising from the facade of ignorance. By investing in education, societies can reap the benefits of a more informed, innovative, and just global community, leading to a brighter future for mankind.


To recap the debate, Victor Hugo’s famous quotation symbolizes the transformative power of education and its potential to create a just, equitable society. It upholds education as the kindling of a flame, illuminating the darkness of ignorance. For instance, it enables an individual to logically analyze things, encouraging them to identify the wrongs and avoid the risks of false indoctrination. Moreover, education also combats illiteracy by encouraging social responsibility and a sense of mutual tolerance for others. However, its absence could lead to disarray, regression, and ultimate destruction. Therefore, the world needs to recognize education as a powerful tool that can break the chains of ignorance and lead it towards a better tomorrow.

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