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Meaning And Purpose Of Education
“Poverty is my pride, struggle is my way of life, education is my weapon and love of Allah is my strength.” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
Education plays the role of leadership in a society. The function of educational institutions is to develop people physically, mentally, socially, psychologically and spiritually. It improves social and cultural life of the people. All over the world universities are guiding and cooperating with the industrial and agriculturaldevelopment organizations and they are developing their economies rapidly and meaningfully. There is a close link betweeneducation and development. Until now the role of primary and secondary education in Pakistan has been simply preparation for tertiary education, which in the mind of most people means a university education. In Pakistan after passing more than six decades, the development indicators are not showing positive results. The participation rate at higher education is low comparatively to other countries of the region.
The word education is derived from Latin word educare, educere or educatum, which means to leads pupils or to draw out their hidden talents. The word educarealso means rearing, educeremeans to bring out and educatum means to participate. The collective meaning of all these three words becomes the developing and shaping up of an individual’s talent and inner potentialities. The Encyclopaedia Britannicadefines education as ‘‘a discipline that is concerned with methods of teaching and learning in schools or school like environment as opposed to various non-formal and in-formal means of socialization.’’ Many scholars have also defined education in their own ways. Some of these definitions are; according to Socrates ‘‘Education is the mean that helps in searching the truth.’’ According to Aristotle ‘‘Education is a process necessary for the creation of sound mind in sound body.’’ Imam Ghazali has defined education in these words; ‘‘Education is a process which enables an individual to distinguish between the true and the false, the good and the bad and the right conduct and the evil doing.’’The universally accepted meaning of education today is growth, that is, the continuous unfolding of one’s potentialities; it is a lifelong process. Education means differently on different grounds. The detail of each meaning is given below.
In the religion of Islam, education as an academic discipline encourages thinking system, that either directly or indirectly originating from Islamic values. This process of thinking has also been encouraged by Allah almighty in the Holy Quran and declared it as the characteristic of a true believer, who focuses on every aspect of the universe and find the indication of his God, which makes his belief even more stronger. Various Islamic scholars have made attempts to define education in the perspective of Islam. Abu Salih, a renowned Muslim scholar has defined Islamic education as the rearing and preparation of a Muslim for his early and immortal life. According to Abd al Rahman al Nahlawi, Islamic education is a group of practical and verbal actions inspired by knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah and based on them in matters to do with faith. In the words of the Quran (Surrah Al Baqarah, Fourth Rukuh) Allah made Adam and his descendants as vicegerents on earth due to the knowledge that Allah has bestowed upon Adam. And when angels enquired Allah about His vicegerent, He asked them the names of some things but the angels were unable to say their names because they had no knowledge of that. On asking Adam, he easily spoke all the names of the things and proved his ability for vicegerent on earth. And it was because of this knowledge that angels on the order of God bowed before Adam. In Islam, knowledge is of two types, revealed and acquired. The first one is that which has been given to human beings through Prophets by Allah almighty while the second one is that which includes human efforts in its acquisition after experimentation and observation. Islam endorsed the acquisition of both types of knowledge.
Education both reflects and influences the social and cultural order of a society. However in modern society education is viewed as a way of formal training. As A.W Green writes, ‘‘historically education has meant the conscious training of the young for the later adaptation of the adult roles. By modern convention, however, education has come to mean formal training by specialists within the formal organization of the school.’’ Education according to western scholars is deliberate and organized activity through which the physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual potentialities of the child are developed, both as an individual and as a member of society.
Politically education means a system of learning through which political ideas, theories and ideologies are instilled in public and it makes them aware of their political rights and duties. Only a politically educated nation could ask their leaders about their duties and could take active part in the political affairs of the country. Each liberal state, from liberal democracies to totalitarian systems uses education as one of their state apparatus to transmit their political ideologies.
From economic point of view, education means a substantial investment in human capital. It is considered as one of the most fundamental factors of development. No country can achieve economic progress without making an enormous investment in its human capital sector. Human capital means highly professionally educated and trained personnel that gives new ideas and brings advancement in economic sector with new inventions, discoveries, theories and laws. Education raises people’s productivity and activity and promotes entrepreneurship and technological advances. In addition it plays a very crucial role in securing economic and social progress and improving income distribution.
Generally the purpose of education is believed to support children in developing their good moral behaviour, their skills, their knowledge and the concept of responsibility that allows them to become a self-conscious, responsible and contributing member of society. Some scholars also considered education as the guard of social, cultural and historical assets and it also lead to the foundation of various cultural values of nation. According to Martin Luther King Junior ‘‘Education has both a utilitarian and moral function.’’ He argued that reasoning ability is not enough and insists that character and moral development are necessary to give critical intellect to human purposes. The purpose of education on various grounds has been discussed below.
In Islam education is concerned with the deep meaning and experiences that individual and groups make and help them give purpose to their lives. It provides opportunities to individuals to explore and respond to the meanings of their experiences and help and guides those who are facing the same experiences. Among pupils, it promotes social, cultural, moral and spiritual development and prepares all pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of the present and the future. Islamic education demands that a Muslim should at least have the knowledge of the fundamentals of his religion. He must know his rights and duties and should maintain a balance between religion and world. Islamic education develops the spirit of Muslim brotherhood in individuals and guides them in their social, political and economic affairs of the contemporary world.
Historically the purpose of education socially is conditioned. For example if we take a look at the historical periods in Sparta, the purpose of education was the creation of strong and brave soldiers while in Anthems, its purpose was the harmonious development of the body and mind. In ancient Rome the purpose of education was to become a good orator and in feudal society, for aristocracy the goal was a great knight and for John Locke (an English writer of the Enlightenment period) the purpose is the education of young gentlemen. Society, system of values, ideological and political understanding and definitions, globalization, sense of the human and his personality, social tradition, development of pedagogical science and the school system, needs, interest and desires of the person himself all are the factors that influence the determination of the purpose of the education on social bases. Generally believed purpose of education is that it provides awareness about the society, helps in the development of society and assure humanistic approach towards society.
United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) concretely state the following contents and purposes of education;
- Qualification of youth for efficient action in the society, which is changing.
- Development of invitation, criticism and independent decision making, as well as responsibility and efficiency in professional acting.
- Qualification of youth for tolerance, understanding and communication with people of different nations, religions, races and ideologies.
- Qualification of youth for permanent education and self-education.
- Building a recognizable identity
- Teaching for life in the global world.
- Ecological education.
No political theory is adequate unless it is applicable to children as well as men and women. Nation states in twenty first century are waging wars indirectly for increasing their circle of influence. The direct way of doing this is to spread their political idea among the masses by teaching their political philosophies at schools and colleges. They also use electronic, print and social media for the same purpose. Every states mould their youth the way the states want by instilling their respective political ideas and views at all levels of education (primary, secondary and tertiary).Education also helps people to understand and discuss the political policies of state. It gives them awareness about their rights and their role in the political sphere of the country.
Education is considered to have a strong relation with social and economic development. In contemporary times when focus is on the ‘Knowledge Based Economy’ the role of education becomes all the more important in the development of human capital. After all, a society of literate and skilled citizens has more chances of development at the social and economic levels. Education can reduce poverty and social injustice by providing the underprivileged resources and opportunities for upward social mobility and social inclusion. There are two dimensions of the economic function of education. These are qualitative and qualitative quantitative. In the first dimension;
- Education produces the quantum of man power that the economy needs at any time. For example engineers, teachers, lawyers and so on. Education equips man power with skills.
- Adjust man power to the changing needs of the economy and society.
- Revision of curricula in response to the dynamic rate of the economy.
Qualitative education imparts ‘Know-What’ as well as ‘Know-How’. Know-what is subject matter while know-how deals with methods and techniques of doing things. Success on a job required both. Qualities developed in individuals by education are honesty, truth, respect, resourcefulness and so on. Education also helps in developing various economic ideas that helps in economic development of society.
Over the time series of human social, cultural, economic, political and technological development, the meaning and purpose of education may have remained different for different nations but it has shared some similar principles all the time. This includes teaching of peace instead of war, affinity instead of animosity, humanity instead of brutality and love, respect and prosperity for all. Education is a life-long process and an agent of change and development.
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