I believe that education is an instrument for social change well, with a few caveats. In order for education to be a proactive instrument for social change, it must be used. Before it can be used, it must be acquired. Once it is acquired, its use depends solely on the individual.
There is a famous aphorism, commonly seen painted as part of school murals or printed on educational posters, that states that Knowledge is power.
Then there are variations of a polar maxim, from different sources, that read, Knowledge is only potential power, Just knowing is not enough, or Knowledge isn`t power until it is applied. These imply a sagacious consensus that results are needed and must be reflected in peoples` lives. In order for that knowledge to really count, it must make an impact. Say for example a king knows how to devise an irrigation system that could provide clean water to all the homes in his country. What use is his knowledge when it exists only in his mind? If he carries out that irrigation system and actually provides clean water to his people, he may not only earn respect from his people but also loyalty in fighting for his future causes; he won`t even have to ask for it!
The education I speak of is more so of an individualistic, personal development within; in accordance to academia whether it be literature, philosophy, mathematics, social and physical sciences, art, music, and so forth; not constrained to any one country`s educational agenda, but a globally informed perspective. I believe that a well-rounded individual who is continually working on an emotional, mental, physical, spiritual balance within his/herself, who understands that learning is a continual process of life, is then truly capable of being a real instrument for social change. The individual who strives to learn is undoubtedly an outstanding one with immense potential to make a difference and who cannot be stopped. The acquisition of knowledge in all forms will open possibilities to that individual to dine with intellects and converse with fools. That hunger to learn will carry that individual from impoverished, inner-city projects to middle-class suburbs to wealthy communities in which he/she will further acquire the knowledge of ambassadorial tact experiences needed to reflect upon true social change.
Even with that knowledge, education can only become an instrument for social change if it moves the individual to learn empathy by accepting reality, not just tolerating it. Those who realize and truly understand his/her strive to establish a dream or accomplish a goal and know it to be a privilege are the ones, who I would argue, to be the vehicles of social change. The juxtapositions of life and reality can be overwhelming as one may find it difficult to read about 65.5 million displaced refugees around the world, while then forced to think about Kim Kardashian`s 14.4 million net profit from her makeup line. Truly accepting reality brings peace of mind and a personal responsibility towards righteousness, whether it be small, day-to-day choices when dealing with the petty neighbor upstairs or a larger commitment like enrolling in legal studies to give back to the communities that have given to you.
Ceaseless striking of a balance within ourselves is active application of the power of knowledge. What we then choose to do with our individual experiences and acquired knowledge is the tipping point towards collective, social change.