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What Is The Purpose Of Education?

purpose of education header

Recently, there have been articles discussing various topics regarding education in Singapore, such as: the Singapore education system, value of a university degree, and even private vs public university degrees.

It seems like there is a focus on how education is simply as a means to an end: to get into a good university, secure a high-paying job, and live happily after.

While securing a good career is certainly one of the motivations of education, I think it does not adequately paint the full picture of what education entails and what it offers.

 

This article might seem like a deviation from our usual career development topics.

In fact, it might seem ironic to have a career development blog discussing this.

But hopefully this irony helps to better bring across the point:

A high paying job can be one of the rewards from education, but it should not become the sole focus.

 

Education and meritocracy

Singapore is known to be a highly meritocratic country. Education is often seen as one of the means of social mobility and opportunity to achieve success in life.

 

There is the typical ‘Singaporean dream’ that everybody strives for:

Getting into a good school, studying in a good local university, graduating and securing a good job in a big company, and finally climbing the ranks of the career ladder and living comfortably and happily ever after.

singaporean dream

 

Hence, it seems that the key purpose of education is to secure a good career for a ‘good future’.

 

However, this narrative seems to be losing relevance today. There are plenty of stories about people with good educational background, doing seemingly irrelevant jobs that they truly have passion in.

 

Moreover, this narrative is also flawed. There are other important intangibles that education offers that we should further focus on.

 

Education and soft skills

Education plays a key role in inculcating critical skills that are integral in our lives.

 

While they might not directly lead to a high paying job, these skills are essential in the holistic development of a well-rounded person.

 

One of the most overlooked parts of education is definitely the soft skills acquired from it.

 

These are skills that can be hard to acquire from anywhere else.

 

School and education provide a conducive environment that allows students to gain soft skills and other intangibles, such as:

  • Communication skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Social skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Networks and connections

 

Education offers an opportunity for students to be exposed to these skills, learn these skills, make mistakes, and grow from there.

 

As opposed to metrics such as salaries and job positions, these skills cannot be measured in tangible form.

 

However, this does not make them any less important.

 

Communication skills

The presentations and oral skills that students have been exposed to in education are all for good reason.

 

They help improve communication skills that are important not just in the workplace, but for any interactions in life.

 

Being able to listen to opinions, and to put across your points clearly, are skills that are important for success.

 

For example, communication skills will come in handy in a job interview. Learn more about job interviews here!

 

As this Forbes article puts it,

“It’s not enough to just come up with big ideas, you also need to work hard to communicate them clearly”.

 

Analytical skills

With the rise of bogus sites and fake news on the internet today, it can be extremely confusing for someone to identify true and valuable information.

 

fake websites

This is where education plays an integral role.

 

It inculcates analytical skills that helps people look beyond the surface of a piece of content, and determine its validity and legitimacy.

 

It also helps people detect inherent biases an author might have, and call out unreliable pieces of content.

 

Proper education helps us to make more rationale, informed and objective decisions.

 

 

Education is important.

 

Education can help us get a good career in future. But that is not the be all and end all of education.

 

Let’s not only be focused on the tangible and financial aspects of it.

 

The mark of a good education should also include one’s communication and analytical skills, among other soft skills.

 

The next time you consider the purpose of education, try to also consider the many other important aspects that education brings.

 

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