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What is Education? Meaning and Importance

Education is a purposeful activity aimed at achieving certain goals, such as imparting knowledge or cultivating skills and character traits. These goals may include the development of understanding, rationality, kindness, and honesty. Various researchers emphasize the role of critical thinking to distinguish education from parenting. Some theorists require that education leads to improved student quality, while others prefer a value-neutral definition of the term. In a slightly different sense, education may refer not to the process, but to the product of that process: the mental states and dispositions possessed by educated people. Education originated as the transmission of cultural heritage from one generation to the next. Today, educational goals increasingly embrace new ideas such as emancipation of learners, skills needed by modern society, empathy, and complex professional skills.

Types of education are usually divided into formal, non-formal, and informal. Formal education takes place in educational and training institutions, is usually structured around the aims and objectives of the curriculum, and learning is usually teacher-led. In most regions, formal education is compulsory up to a certain age and is usually divided into educational stages such as kindergarten, primary school, and secondary school. Non-formal education is a supplement or alternative to formal education. It can be structured according to educational mechanisms, but in a more flexible way, and usually takes place in the community, workplace or civil society. Finally, informal education takes place in everyday life, in the family, and any experience that has a formative effect on how a person thinks, feels, or acts can be considered educational, unintentional, or intentional. In practice, there is a continuum from highly formalized to highly informal, and informal learning can occur in all three settings. For example, homeschooling can be classified as formal or non-formal depending on the structure.

Regardless of the medium, educational methods include teaching, learning, storytelling, discussion, and directed inquiry. The teaching method is called pedagogy. Education is supported by many different philosophies, theories, and programs of empirical research.

There are movements for educational reforms, for example, for improving the quality and efficiency of education towards its relevance in the lives of students and effectively solving problems in today’s or future society in general, or for evidence-based educational methodologies. The right to education has been recognized by some governments and the United Nations.[a] Global initiatives aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4, which promotes quality education for all.

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