Education, has a great social importance specially in the modern, complex industrialised societies. Philosophers of all periods, beginning with ancient stages, devoted to it a great deal of attention.
Accordingly, various theories regarding its nature and objective have come into being. Let us now examine some of the significant functions of education.
1. To complete the socialization process.
The main social objective of education is to complete the socialization process. The family gets the child, but the modern family tends to leave much undone in the socialisation process. The school and other institutions have come into being in place of family to complete the socialization process.
Now, the people fell that it is “the school’s business to train the whole child even to the extent of teaching him honesty, fair play, consideration for others and a sense of right and wrong”.
The school devotes much of its time and energy to the matter such as co-operation, good citizenship, doing one's duty and upholding the law.
Directly through text books and indirectly through celebration of programmes patriotic sentiments are intimates and instilled. The nation's past is glorified, its legendary heroes respected, and its military ventures justified.
All societies maintain themselves, by exploitation of a culture. Culture here refers to a set of beliefs and skills, art, literature, philosophy, religion, music etc., that are not carried through the mechanism of heredity. They must be learned.
This social heritage (culture) must be transmitted through social organisations. Education has this function of cultural transmission in all societies. It is Only at the under leaves of the school that any serious attempt has been, or now is, made to deal with this area.
(3) For the formation of social personality
Individual must have personalities shaped or fashioned in ways that fit into the culture. Education, everywhere has the function of the formation of social personalities.
Education helps in transmitting culture through proper molding of social personalities. In this way, it contributes to the integration, to survive and to reproduce themselves.
(4) Reformation of Attitudes :
Education aims at the reformation of attitudes wrongly developed by children already. For various reasons the child may have absorbed a host of attitudes, beliefs and disbeliefs, loyalties and prejudices, jealously and hatred etc. these are to be reformed.
It is the function of education to see that unfounded beliefs, illogical prejudices and unreasoned loyalties are removed from the child's mind, though the school has its own limitations in this regard, it is expected to continue its efforts in reforming the attitudes of the child.
(5) Education for occupational placement :
An instrument of livelihood. Education has a practical and also it should help the adolescent for earning his livelihood. Education has come to be today as nothing more than an Instrument of livelihood. It should enable the student to take out his livelihood.
Education must prepare the student for future occupational positions, the youth should be enabled to play a productive role in society. Accordingly, great emphasis has been placed on vocational training.
(6) Conferring of Status :
Conferring of status is one of the most important function of education. The amount of education one has, is correlated with his class position. This is four in U.S.A., U.S.S.R., Japan, Germany and some other societies.
Education is related to one's position in the stratification structure in two ways. (1) An evaluation of one's status is partially decided by what kind of education one has received and (2) Many of the other important criteria of class position such as occupation, income and style of life are partially the result of the type and amount of education one has had.
Men who finish college, for example, earn two and a half times as much as those who have a grammar school education.
The school instills co-operative values through civic and patriotic exhortation or advice. Yet the school’s main emphasis is upon personal competition. For each subject studied the child is compared with the companies by percentage of marks or rankings.
The teacher admires and praises those who d well and frowns upon those who fail to do well. The school’s ranking system serves to prepare for a later ranking system. Many of those who are emotionally disappointed by low ranking in the school are thereby prepared to accept limited achievement in the larger world outside the school.
Peter Worsley has spoken of a few more functions of education. Some of them may be noted.
The relation between the economy and education can be an exact one. For example the number and productive capacity of engineering firms are limited by the number of engineers produced by education.
In planned economy, normally it is planned years in advance to produce a definite number of doctors, engineers, teachers, technicians, scientists etc. to meet the social and economic needs of the society.
Education fosters participant democracy. Participant democracy in any large and complex society depends on literacy. Literacy allows full participation of the people in democratic processes and effective voting.
Literacy is a product of education. Educational system has this economic as well as political significance. Education Imparts values:
The curriculum of the school, its extracurricular activities and the informal relationships amongst students and teacher communicate social skills and values. Through various activities a school imparts values such as co-operation or atmospheric, obedience, fair play.
This is also done through curriculum that is through lessons in history literature etc.
Education acts as integrative force in society by communicating value, that unite different sections of society. The family may fail to provide the child the essential knowledge of the social skills and values of the wider society.
The school or the educational institutions can help the child to learn new skills and learn to interact with people of different social backgrounds.