In contemporary times, almost as a cultural practice, education has been elevated to the level of an initiation rite into the modern world. With formal educational training, people acquire reading and writing skills. Literacy, the ability to read and write, has become a requisite for coping with numerous challenges of modern times. To ensure that no child is denied the opportunity to acquire formal education, not sending a child to school is a criminal offense in some parts of the world, especially in the West. In addition, some governments assist their citizens in acquiring formal education by subsidizing the cost or making it available at no charge (at the basic level). It is impossible to fit into modern times if one does not go to school. Consequently, education is a necessity, not a luxury. In contemporary times, people’s attitude to education appears to suggest, in fidelity to Platonism, that it is better to be unborn than to be uneducated.
The demand for education in different parts of the world is increasing daily. People make numerous sacrifices to acquire an education. Parents are willing to give all they have to see their children through school. Some people travel to foreign countries to receive quality educational training. Thus, receiving formal education has become one of the greatest priorities in life today.
However, despite the wide acceptance, formal education has gained worldwide. One of the most significant questions about education, often not asked, is, “What is the relevance of education to practical life?” In other words, to what extent is education helpful in addressing practical life challenges? This question needs to be asked because the expected impacts of education are absent in many educated people’s lives. One factor that speaks very eloquently on this is that education has continuously remained unable to improve the standard of living of numerous graduates.
It is imperative to remark that education is a means to an end, not a lot. The implication of this is that education is a process that leads to the making of a product. The process is incomplete without the product. It is the product that gives value to the means. The quality of the process can be inferred from the quality of the product. As a means, education is incomplete without the end of the process. This is the purpose it (education) is designed to serve (under ideal situations). Let us justify our claim that the expected impacts of education are absent in many educated people’s lives by examining a compassionate aspect of literate people’s lives: their finances.
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How many educated people are truly financially successful? Most graduates struggle all through life to make ends meet, but to no avail. Numerous people graduated from tertiary institutions (even at the top of the class) but are far below many people with lower educational training (academic intelligence and scholarly ability) than those on the ladder of financial success. Perhaps financial struggles and crises are worse among educated people. Most educated people struggle through their working years merely to make ends meet, but to no avail, and end as liabilities during their retirement. The inability of education to assist graduates in managing real-life challenges is rooted in the fact that most people are ignorant of the purpose of education.
Why do we go to school? Why should people go to school? What is the purpose of education? What is the rationale of education? What are the objectives of education? Why should parents send their children to school? Education is one of the most abused or misunderstood human experiences. Unless the purpose of education is understood and clarified, the continuity of its abuse (by most people) will remain inevitable. Many people go to school for the wrong reasons. In addition, most parents send their children to school for the wrong reasons. Most people have erroneous conceptions about the objectives of education.
It is imperative to remark that this problem is rooted in the fact that the major incentive for going to school in the earliest days of its inception in different parts of the world was a ticket to prosperity. This was possible then because employment opportunities abound for educated people. But things have changed and vary significantly. In most parts of the world today, there is a high level of unemployment among educated people. Thus, education does not guarantee financial success anymore. Education has become a major cause of poverty because it has no provision for instilling the knowledge of wealth creation principles in students.
It is high time the purpose of education is reconsidered. Going to school to acquire a certificate should be denounced if the training will improve educated people’s livese. Going to school to prepare for gainful employment should also be criticized because there are limited employment opportunities for unlimited graduates. If a school prepares graduates for work but has limited employment opportunities for absolute graduates, the school prepares students for unemployment. This is why the conception that school merely prepares students for gainful employment is unacceptable. The ideal purpose of education is to facilitate an integral development of the human person – the intellectual, moral, physical, social, spiritual, psychical, and psychological dimensions of man. Going to school should facilitate the optimum development of all aspects of the human person. An ideal educational system should not isolate any part of man in the training process nor consider some parts more important than others. Anything short of this is an aberration and is unacceptable.
Every educational process should be able to assist students in developing their latent potential. Any educational process that does not fulfill this objective is useless. When the mind is set, it can identify and solve problems for humanity and, consequently, be compensated with reward. Money is merely the reward for solving problems. Any graduate who cannot solve societal problems lacks the capacity for wealth creation. Unfortunately, this is a fact most graduates are ignorant of. Education will assist graduates in becoming happy and fulfilled in life if it is structured to facilitate the optimum development of their minds. If this is done, education will equip graduates with the requisite skills to survive real life’s economic battles and challenges.
However, it is excruciating to remark that education has remained unable to serve a practical purpose because most of the things the school system teaches students are things they do not need to survive in real life. In other words, most students spend years in school learning things that will not be useful to them during school days. The crux of this deficiency in the educational system is that the people most concerned in the educational sector are ignorant of its existence. One of the key objectives of education is empowerment. If the educational system is restructured to achieve this purpose, graduates will become assets, not liabilities, no matter the circumstances. Such an educational process will assist students in creating jobs if they cannot get jobs when they graduate. As earlier remarked, education is a process, and every operation is incomplete without a product.
Product quality is the most reliable standard for ascertaining the quality of the process that produced it. Therefore, there is an urgent need to restructure the educational system to ensure that the training it instills in students adequately empowers them to confront life challenges effectively, especially when school days are over. Even though the consequences of the deficiencies of the educational system in its present form account for the ugly experiences of most graduates in real life, the government has continuously demonstrated increasing incompetence in addressing this challenge. Consequently, it has become obvious that graduates who conscientiously desire a bright, refreshing, and happy life must acquire Supplementary Education on their own before their school training has the desired effect. It also implies that students should go beyond what they are taught in class if they are sincerely passionate about happiness in the real world (i.e., life after school).