What is the true meaning of education?

“Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another”. -G.K. Chesterton

Education plays an important part in everyone’s life wheter they acknowledge it or not. It helps at developing more than just the academic aspect of life. Education helps at developing psychological, spiritual and physical capabilities, which means, education influences all aspects of life to some degree.

We can agree that education has a big influence on our fate and on the path we chose to follow. A life of fulfillment can only be achieved when we stay informed, when we develop a multitude of aptitudes and when we work on our frame of mind.

A strong education system can support the development of societies and it can improve health and overall quality of life, while also supporting economic growth.

Perhaps most important, education can influence the way we interact with one another and the way we act towards our planet. Everyday people can help as much as schools, in teaching the importance of creating a prosperous and sustainable future.

But what is the true meaning of education?

Education goes beyond what takes places within a classroom. A child gets the education from his experiences, as much as he gets it from his teachers and books at school. 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 classroom, where a person may learn basic, academic, or other type of 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 qualified teachers, it involves discipline and students must comply to a set of proper guidelines.

Inormal education

This is the type of knowledge that one gains through his life experiences. This knowledge can be the one that we obtain from our parents and elders. Under this category come skills of life that are that important for survival and sustenance of individuals. It does not contain the theoretical knowledge of the books. Learning to drive, cook, make specific arrangements, and interact with others 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 restricted to a specific timeframe, as it is a process that may last a lifetime. There is no set curriculum required, instead informal education consists of experiences and actually living in the family or society.

Non-formal education

This type of training is not a necessity but more of a skill. It is organized according to the requirement of a particular job. Non-formal education can take different forms of learning. Each type is specific for developing that particular ability while working consistently and systematically in order to provide that skill. 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. It is easy to confuse the non-formal education to the 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 any set structure.

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

“If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees, if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” — Chinese proverb

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 main goal of ESD is to allow people to make decisions and act wit the intention to improve our quality of life without damaging the planet. It also aims to integrate the learned values from sustainable development in as many aspects and levels of learning as possible. 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 support sustainable development.
  • Promote critical thinking, problem solving and action
  • Allow learners to take part in decision-making on the design and content of educational programs
  • Address local and global issues, while also avoiding jargon-ridden language
  • Help the learner relate new knowledge to what he already knows
  • Help the learner learn how to apply new knowledge to a context that is familiar to them
  • Present with passion and intention
  • Reinforce with repetition
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!
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