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Webster et al. defineaffirmative action as “an active effort to improve the employment oreducational opportunities of members of minority groups and women” (76). Historically,the society has discriminated various groups such as women, children, or anyother marginalized people. As a result, they miss out on employment, education,and other essential services which they would otherwise deserve. In school,affirmative action policies seek to avail equal opportunities to all groups inthe society. The objective of this research paper is to explore various ways inwhich affirmative action has contributed to the provision of educationalopportunity to marginalized groups in the community. Some of the aspects ofeducation to be reviewed include admission to higher learning institutions.Upon outlining the effect of the policies on the educational development ofwomen, the paper will advise on the policy framework to help policymakers availthe services to all.

Background of AffirmativeActionAffirmative action came into existence inMarch 1961 when President John F Kennedy signed an executive order meant tofight discrimination in America. At the time, the country was experiencingracial discrimination, with blacks being its primary target. Before 1960, noAfrican-American student had gained admission to a public university.Affirmative action was initially meant to protect African American studentsfrom discrimination (Brown 14).

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Towards the end of 1965, the president confirmednew executive orders that required employers to avoid discrimination in theirhiring process on the basis of gender, origin, or race. By the same year, five percent of undergraduate students wereof African descent. Hence, the initiative had started yielding fruit.

In 1967,affirmative action incorporated gender into the anti-discrimination list. In the subsequent years, many colleges anduniversities have adopted affirmative action policies. Following this newdevelopment, the number of students from minority groups in America, enrollingfor studies had drastically increased. By 2007, slightly above 56% of AfricanAmerican high school students would gain admission to institutions of higherlearning. The majority of students were whites, with 70% of them transitioningto universities. The number of Hispanic students was found to be relatively lowcompared to the whites.

Given these facts, one can affirm that theanti-discrimination policies have significantly affected higher education inAmerica. The population of students enrolling in universities and colleges by2011 had risen to 65%. On the other hand, the Hispanics’ had increased to 63% (Gurin,Patricia et al. 362).The growth trend indicates that the policies have contributed, in no smallextent, to the growth of education sector.Impacts of AffirmativeAction on EducationAsclearly illustrated, affirmative action goes beyond admission policies. Afteradmission, colleges and universities reach out to various discriminated groups.

The government facilitates affirmative initiatives by increasing the funding oncolleges. The institutions will then go ahead to offer scholarshipopportunities to less represented groups. More women and African Americanstudents have greatly benefited from the policies. The policy also incorporatesvarious support programs on the campus.

The primary aim of the support programis to help the students improve their academic performance.Through affirmative action, the number ofapplications to join various universities has consistently risen. However, in some states, which have abolished the policy,the number of minority applicants has increased. Some of the states that havedestroyed the laws include California and Texas.

According to statistics,universities in the two states have experienced a drop in the number ofunderrepresented applicants. Without the law, the school would only serve theinterests of the majority in the community. However, the policies allowproper representation of all groups in the states and the entire society.Another effect of affirmative action isthat it has empowered its beneficiaries to land on job opportunities. Throughthe provision of paid scholarships and bursaries, many students haveaccomplished their careers. They have entered the job market, improving theirliving standards. Affirmative action has provided an opportunity for lessfortunate members of the society to study in competitive institutions. Throughsolid academic and professional backgrounds, the students have acquiredcorporate skills necessary for well-paying jobs.

Apart from formal employment,others have earned self-reliant skills. As a result, they have opened upbusiness enterprises, employing and empowering other people. Affirmative action has alsoencouraged multi-cultural integration in learning institutions. Through thepolicies contained in the regulation, every organization must provide equalopportunity to all. In implementing this legal requirement, the schools admitstudents from all countries of the world. People from differentracial, social-cultural, and religious backgrounds converge in these learningand vocational training institutions. The platform prepares the students tomeet diverse cultures and co-exist among various groups upon their graduation.Through integration, students all over the world can interact freely, promotinginternational cooperation.

Another effect of affirmative action isthat it compensates for socioeconomic disparities in the society (Featherman et al. 123).Typically, the high-income members of the community can access affluenteducational opportunities. They can raise sufficient levels of money to caterfor their education and training fees.

On the other hand, the majority of thepopulation is the low-income earners. As a result, they cannot afford to payfor their educational expenses. Therefore, they cannot attain the highprofessional standards required in the corporate world.

Affirmative action hashelped to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. Through admissionopportunities, low-income individuals have received opportunities to improvetheir skills, hence raising their standard of living.Limitation of AffirmativeActionDespitethe positive effects, affirmative action has been subject to various critics. Firstly, some people(from who?) feel that the idea is outdated. It was created with the view offighting discrimination. Over the years, the policy has ended up promoting thevice it was meant to control. Critics argue that students have been accordedopportunities based on their racial extractions rather than academic merit.

Initially, the limited opportunities were available to all. However, thecreation of these policies has negatively impacted this aspect since the valueis overlooked. In some universities, professors favor the minority studentgroups, who end up giving them unearned grades.Critics have also faultedaffirmative action for lowering academic standards for students. In serving theinterests of the underrepresented groups, the institutions are forced to reducethe grades and points. For example, most of the policies in the school systemfavor the women over men. As a result, their grade standards are lowered sothat they can compete equitably with their male counterparts. However, thestrategy ends up demeaning the set standards.

The students targeted by thepolicies become complacent. They do not seek the ideal standard, but only workto achieve the minimum requirements.Another limitation of thepolicy is that it may not benefit the targeted economically disadvantagedstudents.

Empirical evidence has indicated that the procedure helps the middleand high-class minorities (Leiterand Leiter 53). There is also no recognized framework tofollow up on the policy and ensure that the real targets benefit from theinitiatives. Opposes of affirmative action have cast aspersion on the policy asthe one promoting racial prejudice.

There is no correlation between people’s skincolor and their level of intelligence. Therefore, strategies end up favoringthe underrepresented groups without regard to merit.Recommendation    Havingpresented the positive and negative effects of affirmative action, it becomespossible to make various suggestions to improve the policy. Some of therecommendations proposed, include the following:Firstly,the strategies should focus more on equal opportunity for all. As it is, theaffirmative action serves the interests of minority groups. Consequently, itignores the welfare of the majority groups. Anexample here is a policy to admit African American students in Americanuniversities. In this case, the institution encourages the minority students toapply for admission.

The organizations then take in the students, providing financialsupport to them. Moreover, the universities offer various support programs toenable minority students to excel in their studies. By doing so, theinstitutions ignore the majority of the students, whose welfare is equallyimportant.Secondly,government institutions should come up with a legal framework to enhancecompliance with the policy (No Author 89). Asseen earlier, affirmative action does not benefit the low-class students. Onthe contrary, the low and high-class students gain from the initiatives. Sincegovernment institutions spent many resources to implement the affirmativeaction, it is essential that the right people benefit from the work.

Conclusion too longSofar, the essay has outlined crucial information regarding affirmative action.It has targeted mainly in the areas of education and employment. The articlehas explored the impact of the affirmative policies on the two sectors.

Throughaffirmative action, underrepresented groups have secured admission in higherlearning institutions. Beyond access, the schools have offered them varioussupport initiatives to enhance their performance. It is also evident thataffirmative action, through training opportunities, has provided relevantskills and empowered the students to obtain excellent employment opportunities.Consequently, employment has improved their living standards. The policy hasbrought together students from different cultural and racial backgrounds.

As aresult, they have learned to work with people from diverse cultures, preparingthem for employment opportunities. The policies have also helped to bridgethe gap between the rich and the poor, by empowering the low-class students andemployees. However, the regulations have faced several critics, who considerthat affirmative action compromises academic standards and make minority groupsmore complacent and less accountable. The policies do not always benefit theintended targets. It is evident that the system has both positive and negativeeffects on education and employment.

Therefore, the government should beadvised to develop comprehensive regulations governing affirmative action tobenefit the target groups, hence improving their education and employmentprospects.

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