Purpose of education

“Upon the education of the people of this country, the fate of this country depends” Benjamin Disraeli

The purpose of education is to nurture, grow and upgrade the skills of the younger generation to generate functioning, skilled individuals who are able to contribute back to society the investment put in to them.

Education for all, Special education, Equity in education, Inclusion and other reforms in education, nationally and internationally, are all efforts to improve on the deliverables set up by governments. Success of these efforts are measured by economic means (GDP growth, income averages etc)

Using these measures, schooling has failed most of developed and developing countries in providing an education that will drive economic success. World Bank’s report on education quality and economic growth (Eric A. Hanushek and Ludger Wofmann, 2007) show that what has been missing in the education agenda is attention to the quality of education rather than focusing on schools’ attainment and enrolment.

How do we measure “quality education”? In the World Bank Report Eric and Ludges suggest, quite convincingly, that the measure for education quality should be the level of cognitive skills of the population. And this, they suggest can be done by looking at international benchmarking in Math and Science, such as  TIMSS and PISA. They also propose that Developing Countries should look at designing their own benchmark testing.

According to Hanusek and Kimko (2000) , economic growth is affected positively by quality education. Their estimate suggests that one country-level standard deviation (equivalent to 47 test-score points in PISA 2000 mathematics) higher test performance would yield about one percentage point higher annual growth.

“Education is more than luxury; it is a responsibility that society owes to itself” Robin Cook.

Knowledge is power and having a skilled and knowledgeable population places a nation ahead of others. But this can be achieved not by measures of time spent at school but by the quality of what is achieved in this time. As research shows the quality of teachers is the key ingredient to ensure quality education and student performance.

This is why I think the campaign of “Purpose of Education” is so important, as I hope that partly it will answer the question of “What is a good teacher?”, as well as opening debate for the policies needed at schools to ensure quality education.

“Education would be more effective if its purpose was to ensure that by the time they leave school, each boy and girl should know how much they do not know and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it” William Haley

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