Chief Purpose of Education System
Controversy arises when the aim of education is discussed as different schools of thoughts hold diverse opinions on this notion. While the functional aim of the school would be to advocate skill development as the aim of education, citing economic pragmatism as their rationality. On the other hand, the liberal school will differ in their emphasis, seeing the holistic aim of human heritage as the main aim of our education system. In view of the diverse opinions, this essay would agree with the latter that the development of human heritage is of greater significance and our education system should see it as the chief purpose.
Skill Development for Economic Pragmatism
It is not easy to deny the rationality of the functional school for citing skill development as the main aim of education, as economic pragmatism and skill development remains pivotal to an economy. In the current highly competitive environment, education holds the key to raise the growth of the economy which is the pivotal area of concern for any country. As flow of fund and investment flows freely and unrestricted, the skills of labour have become the main determinant of this flow as the productivity of the labour influences the profit-oriented international enterprises in deciding the flow of the highly-prized investment which is the main source of prosperity and opportunity for the nation and its people. Rationally, economists and politicians will ardently support the development of educational institutions to chunk out thousands and millions of productive laborers for the need of the economy, and in the process of doing so, shaping our education system.
But such an emphasis is too narrowly defined for education alone may not ensure the economic success of a nation as other aspects of development are equally important. Although The Philippines has managed to produce a labour force with a high level of literacy, the inflow of investment has not increased over the years, leading to higher degree of brain drain as more workers seek employment abroad as employment opportunities have not increased. The failure of The Philippines in drawing in investment from abroad clearly supports that education may not be the key factor in determining investment opportunities and other aspects of the development are equally influential in promoting prosperity. Thus, education should not just be solely focused on the development of knowledge, but work in tandem with other agencies and stakeholders to create a society and economy that is of great value.
Great society thrives when the society places emphasis on the development of the human heritage which ranges from art to liberal thinking that refines the values and norms of the society. The focus of this aspect of development will create a vibrant society for the people to live within whereby a defined set of values promotes the cordial and civilized interaction of the people. Without the human heritage to guide the people in modern society, there will be misappropriate representation of values that undermine social stability. Ancient Greek civilization has provided modern society with the core values of democracy that remain as key guiding stones for our governance of modern society. Thus, individuals must be bestowed and impressed upon the power of human rationality to solve the social and moral dilemmas they will face in their social and political discourse.
Creating a Cultural Identity
The knowledge of our past, taught through history, geography, music, literature and other liberal forms of education will create a cultural identity and background for us to explain our existence and the meaning of our worth.
Our human heritage also plays a pivotal role in determining our cultural identity which proclaims the existence of our self. The knowledge of our past, taught through history, geography, music, literature and other liberal forms of education will create a cultural identity and background for us to explain our existence and the meaning of our worth. This social identity sets a sense of belonging that will create the bonding to the society we belong to which serves as the platform for the development of social cohesiveness. As advocated by John Jacque Rousseau, the will of the community must be indoctrinated to those who wish to live in the community and this is done through education.
As society modernizes, our human heritage has had many dimensional influences on its development in shaping the civilization in many aspects. We need cultural heritage to define how we live and how our local environment will be like. With increasing migration, new modern cities will be developed as seen in Singapore, with the influx of diverse values and this will demand the education system to address the social and cultural challenges that will affect Singapore’s national and cultural identity. At this junction, our cultural heritage must be built to prevent cultural subversion as stated by MM Lee Kuan Yew and the education system is tasked with this significance. Lastly, it is also important for our society not to view outsiders with suspicion and disdain as they can become valuable contributors to our society.
The Contemporary Education System
In retrospect, we can never ignore the importance of cultivation of human heritage in the course of our education as the inherited wisdom of human civilization has profound impact on our development in the future. Although modern society’s emphasis on economic rivalry has shaped the contemporary education system to move towards a functional direction, the values of human heritage are still of paramount importance to our society.
By JC GP Tutor Simon Ng