Over the years, we have subconsciously believed that going to school was all we needed in getting good jobs, becoming rich and leading the lives of our dreams. Simply put, we saw education as key for success. Today however, these fanciful notions and assumptions seem to be turning invalid day after day. What changed? The concept of Education or the World?

Is Education truly the best legacy?

In addition, we grew up hearing and believing that, “Education is the best legacy.” However, to make such claim these days, is to face the risk of facing the wrath of disillusioned or disappointed individuals offended at Education and/or failed educational systems. Several of these individuals are graduates of higher education institutes who are either unemployed or grossly underemployed and underpaid. Thus, they no longer see education as key for success. At least, If education were the best legacy, why do some many educated people end up without good jobs after graduation?

The good old days…

Similarly, you might have also heard of certain interesting stories of some good old days. Times when students to teachers ratio in higher institutions of learning was 20 to 1. Students learnt in a conducive environment, ate free meals, and had access to the best teaching & research facilities. Upon graduation, they received multiple job offers from companies and organizations. It’s a different story today in most places, and education seems to be losing its place in the society. This makes one to wonder at the real purpose or essence of Education.

What exactly is Education?

First of all, the “word” education today is a word that is associated with several things. Among all, a noteworthy concept is: the major organized system for imparting knowledge called – School. However, we shall review other definitions of “education” in light of the various things it connotes in our world today, and also try to establish its main purpose.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” -Nelson Mandela

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Education simply as;

  • The act or process of imparting knowledge or skills to another.
  • The knowledge and development resulting from the process of being educated.

Education, as defined in this sense was first used in the year 1531 and was coined from the Latin word “educatio.”

Education: A knowledge acquisition process

Consequently, we see that these definitions clarify education as a process of either imparting or acquiring knowledge for the purpose of growth and development. And, we know that the process of knowledge acquisition (mostly informal) has been in existence since the first man lived the Earth. However, this has metamorphosed into more structured forms over the centuries. These include; the writing systems of ancient civilizations as early as the 3500 B.C., the formal education of the middle ages (500 A.D. – 1500 A.D.) and the more refined and patronized systems from the 15th century till date.

Defining Education further still...

Comprehensively, Education can be defined as the process of facilitating learning or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs and habits. Educational methods include; teaching, training, storytelling, discussion and directed research.


The broad usage of the word “education,” made it necessary to categorise its myraid areas of application and give each category a unique nomenclature. This is in order to ensure proper understanding of its use in context. The mostly widely adopted classification of Education is based on the “extent of Organization” and the “Educational methods.” Based on these criteria, Education is classified into the following;

1. Formal Education:

This is also known as formal learning. This takes place in the premises of a school (classroom based) and usually begins at an elementary level to secondary and post-secondary education. Academic skills are taught by qualified teachers under certain set of rules and regulations.

2. Informal Education:

This is the least structured form of education that occurs without much conscious efforts. It is the education that ensues in the house, hotel, workplace, media and anywhere human interactions take place. Though simple and unrefined in its approach, it is a form of education we can’t neglect if we’re to live at all.

3. Non-formal Education:

This is a system of learning literacy, job skills and other basic skills outside of the school. It is imparted consciously and deliberately, often for a group of people with shared interests and with considerable flexibility in design of curriculum and scheme of evaluation as opposed to Formal learning. Examples include: Boy Scouts and Girls Guides, fitness programs, free courses for adult education put together by organizations etc.

True Education requires Balance

Therefore, we see from the three categories of Education that what we often refer to by education is “Formal Education.” The World we live today has greatly changed, therefore, if (Formal) Education will remain the best legacy, we must look beyond the pinhole that restricts learning to the four walls of a classroom in a school or university. A balanced education will help to restore education as key for success in our society. Limiting ourselves to formal education only is a major restriction that serves a major roadblock on students’ pathway to building successful careers and leading fulfilled lives after graduating.

The way forward:

Ultimately, we see that Education is still relevant in our 21st century world. However, there is an urgent need for governments, educators, parents and every other stakeholder involved in education to rethink the strategies for delivering formal education. One such way is by integrating adequate non-formal and informal learning resources that help students develop great interpersonal and work-related skills for landing and building successful careers whether as professionals or business owners.

Action Point

Conclusively, I want to encourage everyone, especially students to rethink learning and the purpose of education. Truly we must once again begin to see education as key for success. To do this, we need to always remember that education serves to enlighten our minds, broaden our horizon and help us build the critical skills for creating the career of our dreams. If your education doesn’t land you your desired job, endeavor to apply your education in turning knowledge into a solution that the world needs.

Credits and Extra Tip

This piece was originally created by Earnest, CDO for The Circumspect. The circumspect is a web platform that allows students to be mentored for success through special learning experiences, engaging industry exposures and creating unique and individual excellence. And just in case you know students looking for industrial placement opportunities, please ask them to check out The Circumspect.

Thanks for reading this far, and I hope you have learnt something definite. Please feel free to share with others and add your contributions in the comment section. You might also like to check a previous post titled: Role of education in national development. Cheers, knowledge lights the way…

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