The first and foremost purpose of education is to educate all students and give everyone equal opportunity as a means to succeed in life. Education is a way of igniting and enlightening the thought of an individual. It is to create a spark and create the sense of realization about the purpose of life, world and the universe. It is a magical tool to grasp and get the insight of the infinity. Education is to teach everything with the logic and a way to reason why the other things are illogical. It should help learners to discriminate the knowledge and ignorance, light and dark, day and night, space and time, life and death, world and unworldly, illustration and illusion, image and mirage, finite and infinite, etc.
The main reason for education is to bring the ignorance into light and help learners to see the world they thought was not only just black but has lots of colours and shapes. It is not blunt and flat but round and sphere. It is not two dimension but many more than that. Education is what life is offering us. It is the concept of uniqueness with every teaching with every individual. No one person will have same input and same output. The reactions and the emotions and the understanding and lessons of any event or happening will not be the same.
Plainly speaking, the purpose of education is to simplify the complexity and explain the depth of infinity. Through knowledge and skill, all individuals can achieve greatness. In addition, common values such as punctuality, following rules, cooperation, learning to work and get along together as well as a sense of responsibility are all important factors of education. The combinations of knowledge and skills as well as the common values help young students bloom into adults and become responsible and productive citizens. However, what schools offer these days are facts and textbooks but not knowledge. Knowing knowledge is different from knowing fact.
Education, like democracy, free markets, freedom of the press, and universal human rights, is one of those subjects whose virtue is considered self-evident. So is the superiority of the industrially advanced countries in attaining them. This uncritical acceptance has severely crippled our discussion of all these vital topics. For example, in education most of ‘the discussion centers around literacy statistics and the need to have a certain number of graduates, masters, PhD’s, and other professionals like engineers, doctors, etc. based on the standards in the industrially advanced countries.
The central issue of curriculum and even more fundamental issue of the purpose of education normally do not attract our attention. It is because they have already been decided by the advanced countries for us and our job is only to follow in their footsteps to achieve their level of progress.
In the ‘first’ world, education has become an extension of the capitalist system. Its purpose is to provide qualified workforce for its machinery of production and eager consumers for its products. Stated in a more polished form, the purpose of education is to provide for the economic prosperity of a country. Similarly on a personal level today the purpose of education is to be able to earn a respectable living. It turns the centers of learning into mere vocational centers in their outlook and spirit. It degrades education and through it the society.
To bring home the pivotal but forgotten role of education we need to recall that there is a fundamental difference between human beings and animals. Instincts and physical needs alone can bring ants, bees, or herds of beasts together to live in a perfectly functioning animal society. Human beings do not function that way as they are not constrained by nature to follow only those ways that are necessary for the harmonious operation of their society.
Without a common framework binding its members, a human society cannot continue to exist; it will disintegrate and be absorbed by other societies. Further, the society must ensure that the common ground will continue to hold from generation to generation. This is the real purpose of education. The education system of a society produces the citizens and leaders needed for the smooth operation of that society, now and into the future. Its state of health or sickness translates directly into the health or sickness of the society that it is meant to serve.
Many of the problems we face today—corruption, injustice, oppression, poverty, etc.—are man-made, i.e. they are largely traceable, directly or indirectly, to the education system that produced the people who perpetuate the problems. The rulers who sell out to foreign powers and subjugate their people; the bureaucrats who enforce laws based on injustice; the generals who wage war against their own people; the businessmen who exploit and cheat; the journalists who lie, sensationalize, and promote indecencies; they are all educated people, in many cases highly educated people. Their education was meant to prepare them for the roles they are playing in real life.
The problem plagues all layers of society. Communities are in the grip of so much materialism today with the entire education system preaching the gospel of materialism. The moral values are lacking in our behavior towards each other because our imported education system is devoid of all moral training. This is the real crisis of education.
Before the current and popular education system was introduced by the British, education in our societies was always the means of nurturing the human being. Moral training was always an inalienable part of it. The teacher was not just a lecturer or mere professional, but a mentor and moral guide. Here arises a need to revamp the school curricula, rewrite the textbooks, retrain the teachers, and realize that this must be done without any guidance or support from any advanced country.
Many of the conflicts surrounding education are the result of multiple points of view as to the purpose of education, the definition of knowledge, and the arguments over which knowledge or whose knowledge is of most worth. For over a century, mechanical factory models of teaching and learning have been at war with critical, interactive education. The purpose of education is to enable individuals to reach their full potential as human beings, individually and as members of a society.
This means that individuals should receive an education which will enable them to think and act intelligently and purposefully. We live in a society which is continually evolving and yet, somehow, it has become generally accepted that schooling should not change. Many still hold expectations that what ‘used to work’ remain appropriate. But we are not the same, we are different. The world is different and the education system too has to change accordingly.