THE VALUE OF A GOOD EDUCATION
“What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the soul.”
—Joseph Addison, 1711.
DID you ever go to school? Most people can answer yes—but not everyone can. Millions of children receive no regular schooling, and this has continued to be the case for a long time, so that today a large number of adults are illiterate. Yet, a good education is a basic need.
The Holy Scriptures strongly encourage the acquisition of wisdom, for example, at Proverbs 3:21, where it says: “Safeguard practical wisdom and thinking ability” and at Proverbs 4:7, where we read: “Wisdom is the most important thing, so acquire wisdom, and with all you acquire, acquire understanding.”
Wisdom implies a breadth of knowledge and a depth of understanding. Understanding adds strength to wisdom, contributing greatly to a person’s discretion and foresight, which are also notable characteristics of wisdom. The Biblical sense of wisdom lays emphasis on sound judgment, based on knowledge and understanding; the ability to use knowledge and understanding successfully to solve problems, avoid or avert dangers, attain certain goals, or counsel others in doing so.
Education is closely related to wisdom and understanding in the sense that education involves the gradual process of acquiring knowledge and understanding. Education holds the key to a better life. A good education prepares people to cope successfully with life in today’s society. It equips them with academic skills, including the ability to read and write well and to do arithmetic. Moreover, it affects their interaction with others and helps them build up wholesome standards of morality. Also, as human society becomes even more complex, a good education takes on greater importance. Everyone, including children, deserve to be properly equipped with the necessary skills required for them to function effectively in the world.
In earliest society, the family was the basic unit for imparting education. The father was the head of the family and was therefore responsible for the education of his household. Today, parents continue to be the primary ones responsible for the education of their children, especially their early education.
However, in some areas today, parents sometimes send their sons to school but not their daughters. Perhaps some parents think that it is too expensive to educate their daughters and believe that girls can be more useful to their mother by staying at home all day. But illiteracy will handicap a daughter. One UNICEF publication stated: “Study after study has demonstrated that providing education for girls is one of the best strategies for breaking the hold of poverty.” Educated girls are better equipped for life and make wiser decisions, thus benefiting all in the family.
In some other places children are deprived of formal education, and then handed over to someone to learn a trade. Sometimes these children are exploited. Learning a trade is a good thing, but they would be more likely to avoid exploitation if they first received a basic education and then learned a trade.
But how can a good education be possible without the proper resources? What if there are insufficient books, a lack of qualified teachers, and not enough schools? Indeed, where can people get a quality education that encourages individual participation, expands their knowledge of the world around them, and helps them achieve a better quality of life?
Apart from efforts by the government in providing quality education, other sectors of the society, such as the private sector, media, and community, can also help to improve access to quality education. This they can do by providing aids and grants, building new classroom blocks in public schools, donating educational infrastructure such as school furniture, textbooks, libraries, etc. Some private organizations could even identify some less-privileged out-of-school children, verify them, and sponsor their education. Often, a key to a good education is having a caring adult—preferably one or both of the child’s own parents—who is supportive and deeply involved in the child’s education.
Daniel Ighakpe, FESTAC Town, Lagos