Education is mostly looked at for its empirically proven ability to raise socioeconomic standards but not in terms of public mental health improvement.
Inequality of conscious mental states is often overlooked when discussing social discrimination
We're well familiar how inequalities of power cause discrimination on international, societal, and individual level. We've also endlessly heard how education sets free and empowers.
What has been missing from the discourse concerning prejudice is the effects from inequality of consciousness. Sure, there were massive amounts of writings analyzing empirical socioeconomic results from inequality of education (that most certainly contributes the most to consciousness augmentation) but the research barely touched on analogies that can illuminate interpersonal perceptions. It's one thing to say that education differences cause Group A to have lower infant mortality, longer life span, and high GDP per capita while Group B trails. It's another thing to say that Group A views Group B (and thus interacts with accordingly) as one would small children, the retarded, and/or the elderly with dementia (or worse as history teaches us).
Whether it is Angelina Jolie, Barack Obama, or George Bush preaching to third world peasants, the sheer inescapable condescension (that greater consciousness brings) is undeniable. It is inevitable in that somebody who has more access to information and more effective techniques to influence reality will either use them in a zero sum game or share them. "Knowing what's best" can of course be a means towards horrid exploitation but also amazing improvement. Thus it was always a prudent idea to keep people who tell you they know what's best for you at arms length. More often then not the helping hand partially or fully enslaved. We can imagine the public reaction if some Chinese or Russian oligarch went to poor American neighborhoods and lectured American officials on improving standards and such.
1) An illiterate 30 year old peasant in Sri Lanka who engaged in daily hard labor of subsistence farming for most of his life. This man is more than capable of communicating and interacting with the people in his isolated village and excels in many simple tasks compared to his neighbors. He doesn't know how to write and only knows how to read a few words here and there. He is content as his labor allows him to feed himself and his family even without education.
2) A man in United States with mild mental retardation ( IQ range of 50-69 but below the 80 level needed to be considered "fully capable of mental function". Although perhaps coherent enough to be executed in Texas) from a poor background. This man had the luck to be in a special school program that taught him to read and write to a degree that he is capable of. The man lives in a community with other people who have poor cognitive learning and application ability. He is content as he is among the most functioning in the institution and feels a sense of power through comparison. He engages in helpful duties assigned to him and is very efficient. The man is more than capable of living and functioning by himself in the simplicity of a third world level village.
3) An elderly rural man in United States who never finished high school and was engaged in farming for most of his life. He has ability to read NY Post level tabloids and fill out forms. He is deeply convinced that magical beings are real and play a part in the lives of humans. The man even talks to the magical creatures and organizes his life as if they were real and watching him. He is not troubled at all by his life as he is able to communicate and function perfectly in his village and is mostly surrounded by other Christians. His neuroplasticity (and thus mental functioning) have been hampered by almost third world level investment in education early in life (by 2009 standards), poor fatty diet, ceaseless propaganda from the clergy and the state (through television media), and additional creeping neural infirmities of old age.
Obama's "clinging to guns" statement). They are meant to bring to attention the not so obvious fact that diverse individuals can 1) have roughly similar conscious mental mechanisms and 2) be empowered or disempowered through perception of others due to the fluid nature of their social/geographic location
However, perhaps the most important aspect of rise in consciousness is rise in self respect.
A man with slightly above average level of consciousness ( it's assumed that within a population, consciousness is spread on a bell curve just like personal power is) can then look at a politician or a businessman and say, "hey! the people ruling me are a minority and are maybe 100% more conscious than me on average. Why do they have 100-10,000 times the power and wealth instead of twice as much?" That is why revolt or social reform often starts on campuses and among the middle class who got an empowering taste for self respect. At that point they are beginning to get a good idea of what's best for them rather than passively listening to higher ups for guidance (the way a peasant would due to lack of information and/or personal inability).
It stands to reason that if a middle class white person may view a Sri Lankan peasant or a mildly retarded American in one of the ways above (while being viewed himself like that by those on top), those on top may view Sri Lankan peasants as one does cattle or dogs. Considering the eagerness with which the national elites sent their own countrymen to meatgrinder wars in the 20th century, a lot of Americans and Europeans were viewed as cattle as well ( and may very well still be). One pre-revolution curse word in the Russian language is skotina. It means cattle and the roots of its application to human beings stem from mass plantation type system that existed before 1917. We've seen analogies of this in the American south and elsewhere in the developed world.