Why should I go to school | The need for education
The best investment one can ever make is in a good education.
In each of us is great potential. The need for education to bring out this potential cannot be over emphasized. Education helps us develop our inherent talent. It equips us to not only pick up and hone the skills that help us earn a living but also helps us live a balanced life. It is a process of scrubbing away the rust of ignorance and prejudice and polishing the mind to bring out the shine within. It sharpens the intellect and broadens the mind. In short, it is a great enabler. In the words of the celebrated Indian monk and philisopher, Swami Vivekananda, "Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man." Today, even more so than before there is a crying need for education.
What can a good education do for us
- A good education would help us understand that each man is unique. It would help us respect each man for who he is. It would help us not only appreciate the differences among each of us but be enchanted by these pearls of differences on the necklace of humanity.
- A good education would help us become men of thought rather than merely men of letters, for education teaches us to think. It would open up the mind by clearing the cobwebs of disuse and open up a clarity in thought. Developing the faculty of critical thought helps us evaluate all possibilities in any situation, both within and without the bounds, and make decisions and solve life's little problems.
- A good education equips us with the knowledge and skills we need to go through our life and career. It teaches us to read and write and count. It teaches us the science to how things work, the history of civilization and our country and how we came to be where we are, our rights and duties as members of society and the language and literature of our land to instill in us the hoary values dear to our people.
- Education teaches us self-discipline and the virtues of patience and hard work. It teaches us to plan and wait for things, to strive and persevere, and not give up easily. It teaches us to distinguish between wants and needs.
- Education teaches us to learn. It teaches us how to access information we need. It helps us learn throughout our life, for learning is indeed life-long. It also teaches us humility and teaches us that there is much that we don't know.
- Education provides us the skills we need to do a job, that can help us earn a living. Perhaps this may be the most obvious need for education.
Does the education system of today address all these needs
It is fashionable to say 'No'. It has always been fashionable to say 'No'. Even many years ago, Bertrand Russel famously commented:
"What's the difference between a bright, inquisitive five-year-old, and a dull, stupid nineteen-year-old? Fourteen years of the British educational system."
But it is worthwhile to remember that it is perhaps the same system that produced a Bertrand Russel. Of course some may say, that it was in spite of the system.
But it profits us not to unduly decry what ever is. And it profits us not to confuse the need for education with the system of education.
In every way, education is a great investment.
A good college degree can change your life
Even in the perhaps more narrow financial sense, the return on investment on a good college degree is huge. Today, rightly or wrongly the differential in income between the top few and the others in any field is of a huge order. In my part of the world for instance, a top lawyer commands a fee of a hundred thousand for a court appearance, lesser (paid) ones stand outside court complexes soliciting minor jobs for a hundred rupees; top doctors in super specialities routinely earn in millions, small town 'family' physicians earn fifty to hundred rupees per patient; normal 'plain' graduates start their career with five or six thousand rupees while the highly sought after computer science or engineering graduates from top schools start out with several times as much.
The writing on the wall is clear. Investing in a good college degree from a good institution can pay back manifold. Legion, indeed are the tales of school dropouts who made it big; but bear in mind that extraordinary men and women would make it, no matter what the odds. Life's red carpets roll out that much faster for those with certain coveted letters after their name. For many without the wherewithal to invest the time and money, it would no doubt be a lot of hardship and suffering, but a worthwhile suffering for the reward at the end. I have personally seen transformed, the lives of families that managed to beg, borrow and plead their way through putting a child thru a good college degree, of enduring much hardship and suffering and sacrifice, but ending with getting a job at several times the pay they would have otherwise got. This is not to confuse a good education with a good college degree, merely to point out that in today's system, a good college degree can open the door to an elevated financial, social and personal position that would otherwise been difficult to nudge.
Education can be a life-changer. It can catapult a small town learner to become a celebrated president of a great nation. It can produce dedicated government officials who can transform the lives of an entire people. It can create far-sighted industrialists who can provide jobs and livelihood for workers in thousands. It can generate illustrious teachers who can instill the spark of learning in developing young minds. A society that invests wisely in education can be a society transformed within a single generation. A family that invests wisely in education will find its sacrifice amply rewarded and its position elevated for generations to come.
Education is a gift we receive, and a debt we bear. It is the best of gifts to give, it is a debt hard to repay, because much of what we are is due to the education we received. Perhaps we can consider it a debt repaid when we help one more human being get an education.
Born in an intellectual but financially impoverished household, my father walked seven miles barefoot on hot tar roads everyday, to get a school education. He studied under street lamps at night for want of electric power at home. He used discarded 'one-side' advertisement leaflets to write his school notes on. He started his career as a clerk with a 'grand' salary of all of eighty rupees. He trained himself as a cost accountant in his spare time, successfully took the government civil service examination and became a government auditor and rapidly progressed to a very senior level. Having rode the heights of government service he retired, and started up a successful business and provided jobs and livelihood to so many workers. And right through his career, with his firm belief in the transformational power of education, he touched the lives of quite a few, in many little ways by word and deed aiding and encouraging educational pursuit. After retiring from this 'second' career, he plunged into social service involving himself with an organization that helps maintain and educate financially less fortunate children.
This is what can happen when you educate one man. And this story is by no means uncommon.
Indeed, education is the best investment ever. Be it a family, a society or a nation, it is worth sacrificing much today to get a good education for all. In the words of Aristotle,
The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.
Education is also the safest investment ever. For it is something that you can never lose. Through the journeys of life much does happen. You can lose your money, title a position - but no one can ever take away from you your knowledge, skills and values.
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