What is the purpose of education

Why do our parents want us to go to schools, colleges or universities? They want us to learn to read and write and acquire knowledge so that we can earn money and live comfortably as gentlemen. The saying goes in our country that whoever learns to read and write rides in cars and on horses.

In many countries, a school, college or university are traditionally considered to be a house of learning or knowledge - a Vidyalaya. Now the question is, should a school. college or university teach one only to read and write and acquire knowledge? Should this be the only aim of education? The answer will obviously be ‘no’. The aim of education should not be a mere accumulation of knowledge. It should aim at all-around development, that is, physical, mental, moral and spiritual development of an individual.

Our educational institutions concern themselves mainly with providing the students with knowledge and skill that they will use in earning a living. Practically they pay little attention to the education of their character, which should need the most attention.

As a result, they produce men and women who have much knowledge and skill but who have little human feeling. Man must learn how to live and live well as he is the best of creation and most intelligent and dignified. Like lower animals, his requirements are not merely physical. He possesses a mind which needs nourishment too.

We live in a society. So we must learn to live in peace and amity with others. We have to respect others' life and property, rights and privileges and likes and dislikes as we expect others to respect ours. We have a lot of duties and responsibilities to the society. Education should aim at making each individual fully aware of these duties and responsibilities. It is true that one has to learn how to earn his bread.

But man does not live for bread alone. As he has bodily needs he has also his psychological needs which have to be satisfied too. There is the third factor, which is the nourishment of the soul. It is only the possession of the soul that decisively makes human beings a separate species, superior to all the rest.

The education that we receive from socially recognized educational institutions is what we call 'formal education. But people gain much more information and knowledge from other sources as well. We continually learn many new things and new ideas, acquire knowledge and skill from the family and the society. This process can be termed as informal education.

What we learn and gain on our own, without the formal help and guidance from professionally skilled people, is often unsystematic and disorganized. Also, much of the knowledge thus gained is often found to be prejudicial and harmful to the growth of a cultured and civilized fife. But what about those millions who, for some reason or other, but mostly for economic reasons, have not been able to attend such institutions? They may be illiterate but not uneducated.

The aim of education is to make a man fully equipped to be useful to himself and to society. It is to develop the whole man his body, mind and soul. Education aims at providing a child with opportunities to bring out all the latent talents that it possesses.

A truly educated person should be self-reliant with regard to his personal needs. He should also help others in attaining self-reliance. He should be well-mannered, thoughtful, creative, kind, respectful, sympathetic, and cooperative. It is by cultivating these virtues that a human being transcends all limitations life imposes upon him and becomes the most dignified creation of God. 

If at the distress and suffering of a fellow human being, your love and sympathy or such other humane feelings are not roused, if you do not feel anguish in your heart and you do not feel an urge to try to alleviate the sufferings of other human beings, you have not been properly educated.

A person who has acquired knowledge and skill for material development alone is also not fully educated. A good education should aim at developing not only the body and the mind but also the soul. Strictly speaking, however, education is not confined to schools, colleges and universities only. The family, the society and the whole world at large educate us.

What we learn by experience in our practical life is no less important than what we learn from schools and colleges formally. Education is a life-long process. It begins at birth and ends only at death. We continue to learn as long as we live.
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