What is the true meaning of education?

What is education?

Education plays a significant role in any individual’s life. It focuses on the development of academic, psychological, spiritual and physical capabilities of a person.

A strong education system broadens access to opportunities, improves health, and supports the resilience of communities – all while fueling economic growth in a way that can reinforce and accelerate these processes. Thus, we can say, “education is the passage to progress”.

Perhaps most important, education can bring about a fundamental shift in how we think, act, and discharge our responsibilities toward one another and the planet. Schools, and even everyday people, can nurture and inspire a new generation of aware citizens to support the transition to a prosperous and sustainable future.

But what is the true meaning of education?

Education goes beyond what takes places within the four walls of the classroom. A child gets the education from his experiences outside the school as well as from those within on the basis of these factors. There are three main types of education, namely, Formal, Informal and Non-formal.

Formal education

This type of education is followed in schools, colleges and other courses that follow a specific type of coursework. Formal learning usually takes place in the premises of the school, where a person may learn basic, academic, or trade skills. This type of education continues from an elementary school to secondary school and further on to college or university. The formal education is given by specially qualified teachers, it involves discipline and students must comply to a set of proper guidelines.

Informal education

This is the type of knowledge that one gains through several life experiences. This knowledge can be the one that we obtain from our parents and elders. Individual necessary skills of life that are important for survival and sustenance comes under this category. It does not contain the theoretical knowledge of the books. Learning to drive, ride a bicycle, cook or a child teaching an older parent how to use new technology are some examples of informal education. Society and community are responsible for the informal education of a person. The most excellent teacher of informal education is the experience and encounters that one faces throughout their life. This type of education is not given according to any fixed timetable. There is no set curriculum required. Informal education consists of experiences and actually living in the family or community.

Non-formal education

This type of training is not a necessity but more of a skill. It is framed according to the requirement of a particular job. Non-formal education can take different forms of learning, which is consistently and systematically provided in order to develop a particular skill or ability in an individual. This type of education is highly flexible and includes a wide range of activities. Some of the examples may be fitness programs, community-based adult education courses, and free courses on different platforms. One would think that non-formal education would be similar to informal education based on its name, but it has more in common with formal education in that it often involves instruction from a teacher. However, it does not rely on a syllabus or any other set structure.

Now how can we help the world become a better place?

Maybe we could start by empowering people to change the way they think and work towards a sustainable future. The UNESCO-led UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, which began in 2005, was explicitly intended to instill in every human being “the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values necessary to shape a sustainable future.”

The aim of ESD is to enable people to make decisions and carry out actions to improve our quality of life without compromising the planet. It also aims to integrate the values inherent in sustainable development into all aspects and levels of learning.

Everyday people, like you and me, can inspire and teach others to how be more sustainable by doing at least some of the following:

  • Share the values and principles that underpin sustainable development.
  • Promote critical thinking, problem solving and action, all of which develop confidence in addressing the challenges to sustainable development.
  • Allow learners to participate in decision-making on the design and content of educational programs.
  • Address local as well as global issues, and avoid jargon-ridden language and terms
  • Help the learner relate new knowledge to what the learner already knows
  • Help the learner learn how to apply new knowledge to a context that is familiar to them
  • Present With Purpose and Passion
  • Reinforce With Repetition and Response

Now that you know all you need to know about education, go and inspire some people to be friendlier to the little planet, we call our home!