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Related subjects: Education

Background to the schools Wikipedia

Arranging a Wikipedia selection for schools in the developing world without internet was an initiative by SOS Children. To compare sponsorship charities this is the best sponsorship link.

School children sitting in the shade of an orchard in Bamozai, near Gardez, Paktya Province, Afghanistan.
Students at the Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria
Students in Kagugu Primary School of Rwanda.
Student participants in the FIRST Robotics Competition, Washington, D.C.

Education in its general sense is a form of learning in which knowledge, skills, and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training, research, or simply through autodidacticism. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts.


Etymologically, the word "education" is derived from the Latin ēducātiō (“A breeding, a bringing up, a rearing") from ēdūcō (“I educate, I train”) which is related to the homonym ēdūcō (“I lead forth, I take out; I raise up, I erect”) from ē- (“from, out of”) and dūcō (“I lead, I conduct”).

The role of government

A right to education has been created and recognized by some jurisdictions: Since 1952, Article 2 of the first Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights obliges all signatory parties to guarantee the right to education. It does not however guarantee any particular level of education of any particular quality. At the global level, the United Nations' International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 guarantees this right under its Article 13.

Throughout history various governments have made it illegal to educate children privately or at home. Various totalitarian regimes, for example, have mandated indoctrination through propaganda in the Hitler Youth and propaganda in education under various communist regimes.


School children line, in Kerala, India

Systems of schooling involve institutionalized teaching and learning in relation to a curriculum, which itself is established according to a predetermined purpose of the schools in the system. Schools systems are sometimes also based on religions, giving them different curricula.


School children in Durban, South Africa.

In formal education, a curriculum is the set of courses and their content offered at a school or university. As an idea, curriculum stems from the Latin word for race course, referring to the course of deeds and experiences through which children grow to become mature adults. A curriculum is prescriptive, and is based on a more general syllabus which merely specifies what topics must be understood and to what level to achieve a particular grade or standard.

An academic discipline is a branch of knowledge which is formally taught, either at the university–or via some other such method. Each discipline usually has several sub-disciplines or branches, and distinguishing lines are often both arbitrary and ambiguous. Examples of broad areas of academic disciplines include the natural sciences, mathematics, computer science, social sciences, humanities and applied sciences.

Educational institutions may incorporate fine arts as part of K-12 grade curricula or within majors at colleges and universities as electives. The various types of fine arts are music, dance, and theatre.


The term preschool refers to a school for children who are not old enough to attend kindergarten. It is a nursery school.

Preschool education is important because it can give a child the edge in a competitive world and education climate. While children who do not receive the fundamentals during their preschool years will be taught the alphabet, counting, shapes and colors and designs when they begin their formal education they will be behind the children who already possess that knowledge. The true purpose behind kindergarten is “to provide a child-centered, preschool curriculum for three to seven year old children that aimed at unfolding the child’s physical, intellectual, and moral nature with balanced emphasis on each of them.”

Primary schools

Primary school in open air. Teacher (priest) with class from the outskirts of Bucharest, around 1842.

Primary (or elementary) education consists of the first 5–7 years of formal, structured education. In general, primary education consists of six or eight years of schooling starting at the age of five or six, although this varies between, and sometimes within, countries. Globally, around 89% of primary-age children are enrolled in primary education, and this proportion is rising. Under the Education For All programs driven by UNESCO, most countries have committed to achieving universal enrollment in primary education by 2015, and in many countries, it is compulsory for children to receive primary education. The division between primary and secondary education is somewhat arbitrary, but it generally occurs at about eleven or twelve years of age. Some education systems have separate middle schools, with the transition to the final stage of secondary education taking place at around the age of fourteen. Schools that provide primary education, are mostly referred to as primary schools. Primary schools in these countries are often subdivided into infant schools and junior school.

In India, compulsory education spans over twelve years, out of which children receive elementary education for 8 years. Elementary schooling consists of five years of primary schooling and 3 years of upper primary schooling. Various states in the republic of India provide 12 years of compulsory school education based on national curriculum framework designed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training.

Secondary schools

Students working with a teacher at Albany Senior High School, New Zealand
Students in a classroom at Samdach Euv High School, Cambodia

In most contemporary educational systems of the world, secondary education comprises the formal education that occurs during adolescence. It is characterized by transition from the typically compulsory, comprehensive primary education for minors, to the optional, selective tertiary, "post-secondary", or " higher" education (e.g. university, vocational school) for adults. Depending on the system, schools for this period, or a part of it, may be called secondary or high schools, gymnasiums, lyceums, middle schools, colleges, or vocational schools. The exact meaning of any of these terms varies from one system to another. The exact boundary between primary and secondary education also varies from country to country and even within them, but is generally around the seventh to the tenth year of schooling. Secondary education occurs mainly during the teenage years. In the United States, Canada and Australia primary and secondary education together are sometimes referred to as K-12 education, and in New Zealand Year 1–13 is used. The purpose of secondary education can be to give common knowledge, to prepare for higher education or to train directly in a profession.

The emergence of secondary education in the United States did not happen until 1910, caused by the rise in big businesses and technological advances in factories (for instance, the emergence of electrification), that required skilled workers. In order to meet this new job demand, high schools were created, with a curriculum focused on practical job skills that would better prepare students for white collar or skilled blue collar work. This proved to be beneficial for both employers and employees, for the improvement in human capital caused employees to become more efficient, which lowered costs for the employer, and skilled employees received a higher wage than employees with just primary educational attainment.

In Europe, grammar schools or academies date from as early as the 16th century, in the form of public schools, fee-paying schools, or charitable educational foundations, which themselves have an even longer history.

A violin student receiving music education at the Royal Academy of Music, London, 1944.


Autodidacticism (also autodidactism) is self-directed learning that is related to but different from informal learning. In a sense, autodidacticism is "learning on your own" or "by yourself", and an autodidact is a self-teacher. Autodidacticism is a contemplative, absorbing process. Some autodidacts spend a great deal of time reviewing the resources of libraries and educational websites. One may become an autodidact at nearly any point in one's life. While some may have been informed in a conventional manner in a particular field, they may choose to inform themselves in other, often unrelated areas. Notable autodidacts include Abraham Lincoln (U.S. president), Srinivasa Ramanujan (mathematician), Michael Faraday (chemist and physicist), Charles Darwin (naturalist), Thomas Alva Edison (inventor), Tadao Ando (architect), George Bernard Shaw (playwright), Frank Zappa (composer, recording engineer, film director),and Leonardo da Vinci (engineer, scientist, mathematician).


Vocational education is a form of education focused on direct and practical training for a specific trade or craft. Vocational education may come in the form of an apprenticeship or internship as well as institutions teaching courses such as carpentry, agriculture, engineering, medicine, architecture and the arts.


Indigenous education refers to the inclusion of indigenous knowledge, models, methods and content within formal and non-formal educational systems. Often in a post-colonial context, the growing recognition and use of indigenous education methods can be a response to the erosion and loss of indigenous knowledge and language through the processes of colonialism. Furthermore, it can enable indigenous communities to “reclaim and revalue their languages and cultures, and in so doing, improve the educational success of indigenous students.”

Anarchistic free schools

An anarchistic free school (also anarchist free school and free school) is a decentralized network in which skills, information, and knowledge are shared without hierarchy or the institutional environment of formal schooling. Free school students may be adults, children, or both. This organisational structure is distinct from ones used by democratic free schools which permit children's individual initiatives and learning endeavors within the context of a school democracy, and from free education where 'traditional' schooling is made available to pupils without charge. The open structure of free schools is intended to encourage self-reliance, critical consciousness, and personal development. Free schools often operate outside the market economy in favour of a gift economy. Nevertheless, the meaning of the "free" of free schools is not restricted to monetary cost, and can refer to an emphasis on free speech and student-centred education.


Alternative education, also known as non-traditional education or educational alternative, is a broad term that may be used to refer to all forms of education outside of traditional education (for all age groups and levels of education). This may include not only forms of education designed for students with special needs (ranging from teenage pregnancy to intellectual disability), but also forms of education designed for a general audience and employing alternative educational philosophies and methods.

Alternatives of the latter type are often the result of education reform and are rooted in various philosophies that are commonly fundamentally different from those of traditional compulsory education. While some have strong political, scholarly, or philosophical orientations, others are more informal associations of teachers and students dissatisfied with certain aspects of traditional education. These alternatives, which include charter schools, alternative schools, independent schools, homeschooling and autodidacticism vary, but often emphasize the value of small class size, close relationships between students and teachers, and a sense of community.

Alternative education may also allow for independent learning and engaging class activities.


In the past, those who were disabled were often not eligible for public education. Children with disabilities were often educated by physicians or special tutors. These early physicians (people like Itard, Seguin, Howe, Gallaudet) set the foundation for special education today. They focused on individualized instruction and functional skills. Special education was only provided to people with severe disabilities in its early years, but more recently it has been opened to anyone who has experienced difficulty learning.

Education through recreation

The concept of education through recreation was first applied to childhood development in the 19th century. In the early 20th century, the concept was broadened to include young adults but the emphasis was on physical activities. Educationalist Lawrence L.P. Jacks, who was also an early proponent of lifelong learning, best described the modern concept of education through recreation in the following quotation "A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself he always seems to be doing both. Enough for him that he does it well."(Jacks, 1932). Education through recreation is the opportunity to learn in a seamless fashion through all of life's activities. The concept has been revived by the University of Western Ontario to teach anatomy to medical students.

Systems of higher education

The University of Cambridge is an institute of higher learning.

Higher education, also called tertiary, third stage, or post secondary education, is the non-compulsory educational level that follows the completion of a school providing a secondary education, such as a high school or secondary school. Tertiary education is normally taken to include undergraduate and postgraduate education, as well as vocational education and training. Colleges and universities are the main institutions that provide tertiary education. Collectively, these are sometimes known as tertiary institutions. Tertiary education generally results in the receipt of certificates, diplomas, or academic degrees.

Higher education generally involves work towards a degree-level or foundation degree qualification. In most developed countries a high proportion of the population (up to 50%) now enter higher education at some time in their lives. Higher education is therefore very important to national economies, both as a significant industry in its own right, and as a source of trained and educated personnel for the rest of the economy.

University systems

Lecture at the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, CTU in Prague.

University education includes teaching, research, and social services activities, and it includes both the undergraduate level (sometimes referred to as tertiary education) and the graduate (or postgraduate) level (sometimes referred to as graduate school). Universities are generally composed of several colleges. In the United States, universities can be private and independent, like Yale University, they can be public and State governed, like the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, or they can be independent but State funded, like the University of Virginia.


Higher education in particular is currently undergoing a transition towards open education, elearning alone is currently growing at 14x the rate of traditional learning. Open education is fast growing to become the dominant form of education, for many reasons such as it's superior efficiency and results compared to traditionalist methods. Cost of education has been an issue throughout history, and a major political issue in most countries today. Open education is generally significantly cheaper than traditional campus based learning and in many cases even free. Many large university institutions are now starting to offer free or almost free full courses such as Harvard, MIT and Berkeley teaming up to form edX Other universities offering open education are Stanford, Princeton, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Edinburgh, U.Penn, U. Michigan, U. Virginia, U. Washington, Caltech. It has been called the biggest change in the way we learn since the printing press. Many people despite favorable studies on effectivness may still desire to choose traditional campus education for social and cultural reasons.

The conventional merit system degree is currently not as common in open education as it is in campus universities. Although some open universities do already offer conventional degrees such as the Open University in the United Kingdom. Currently many of the major open education sources offer their own form of certificate. Due to the popularity of open education these new kind of academic certificates are gaining more respect and equal " academic value" to traditional degrees. Many open universities are working to have the ability to offer students standardized testing and traditional degrees and credentials.

There has been a culture forming around distance learning for people who are looking to enjoy the shared social aspects that many people value in traditional on campus education that is not often directly offered from open education. Examples of this are people in open education forming study groups, meetups and movements such as UnCollege.

Liberal arts colleges

Saint Anselm College, a traditional New England liberal arts college.

A liberal arts institution can be defined as a " college or university curriculum aimed at imparting broad general knowledge and developing general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum." Although what is known today as the liberal arts college began in Europe, the term is more commonly associated with Universities in the United States.

Community colleges

A nonresidential junior college offering courses to people living in a particular area.


One of the most substantial uses in education is the use of technology. Also technology is an increasingly influential factor in education. Computers and mobile phones are used in developed countries both to complement established education practices and develop new ways of learning such as online education (a type of distance education). This gives students the opportunity to choose what they are interested in learning. The proliferation of computers also means the increase of programming and blogging. Technology offers powerful learning tools that demand new skills and understandings of students, including Multimedia, and provides new ways to engage students, such as Virtual learning environments. One such tool are virtual manipulatives, which are an "interactive, Web-based visual representation of a dynamic object that presents opportunities for constructing mathematical knowledge" (Moyer, Bolyard, & Spikell, 2002). In short, virtual manipulatives are dynamic visual/pictorial replicas of physical mathematical manipulatives, which have long been used to demonstrate and teach various mathematical concepts. Virtual manipulatives can be easily accessed on the Internet as stand-alone applets, allowing for easy access and use in a variety of educational settings. Emerging research into the effectiveness of virtual manipulatives as a teaching tool have yielded promising results, suggesting comparable, and in many cases superior overall concept-teaching effectiveness compared to standard teaching methods. Technology is being used more not only in administrative duties in education but also in the instruction of students. The use of technologies such as PowerPoint and interactive whiteboard is capturing the attention of students in the classroom. Technology is also being used in the assessment of students. One example is the Audience Response System (ARS), which allows immediate feedback tests and classroom discussions.

American students in 2001, in a computer fundamentals class taking a computer-based test

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are a “diverse set of tools and resources used to communicate, create, disseminate, store, and manage information.” These technologies include computers, the Internet, broadcasting technologies (radio and television), and telephony. There is increasing interest in how computers and the Internet can improve education at all levels, in both formal and non-formal settings. Older ICT technologies, such as radio and television, have for over forty years been used for open and distance learning, although print remains the cheapest, most accessible and therefore most dominant delivery mechanism in both developed and developing countries. In addition to classroom application and growth of e-learning opportunities for knowledge attainment, educators involved in student affairs programming have recognized the increasing importance of computer usage with data generation for and about students. Motivation and retention counselors, along with faculty and administrators, can impact the potential academic success of students by provision of technology based experiences in the University setting.

The use of computers and the Internet is in its infancy in developing countries, if these are used at all, due to limited infrastructure and the attendant high costs of access. Usually, various technologies are used in combination rather than as the sole delivery mechanism. For example, the Kothmale Community Radio Internet uses both radio broadcasts and computer and Internet technologies to facilitate the sharing of information and provide educational opportunities in a rural community in Sri Lanka. The Open University of the United Kingdom (UKOU), established in 1969 as the first educational institution in the world wholly dedicated to open and distance learning, still relies heavily on print-based materials supplemented by radio, television and, in recent years, online programming. Similarly, the Indira Gandhi National Open University in India combines the use of print, recorded audio and video, broadcast radio and television, and audio conferencing technologies.

The term "computer-assisted learning" (CAL) has been increasingly used to describe the use of technology in teaching. Classrooms of the 21st century contain interactive white boards, tablets, mp3 players, laptops, etc. Wiki sites are another tool teachers can implement into CAL curricula for students to understand communication and collaboration efforts of group work through electronic means. Teachers are encouraged to embed these technological devices and services in the curriculum in order to enhance students learning and meet the needs of various types of learners.


Adult learning, or adult education, is the practice of training and developing skills in adults. It is also sometimes referred to as andragogy (the art and science of helping adults learn).Adult education has become common in many countries. It takes on many forms, ranging from formal class-based learning to self-directed learning and e-learning. A number of career specific courses such as veterinary assisting, medical billing and coding, real estate license, bookkeeping and many more are now available to students through the Internet.

With the boom of information from availability of knowledge through means of internet and other modern low cost information exchange mechanisms people are beginning to take an attitude of Lifelong learning. To make knowledge and self improvement a lifelong focus as opposed to the more traditional view that knowledge and in particular value creating trade skills are to be learned just exclusively in youth.

Learning modalities

Students in laboratory, Saint Petersburg State Polytechnical University.

There has been work on learning styles over the last two decades. Dunn and Dunn focused on identifying relevant stimuli that may influence learning and manipulating the school environment, at about the same time as Joseph Renzulli recommended varying teaching strategies. Howard Gardner identified individual talents or aptitudes in his Multiple Intelligences theories. Based on the works of Jung, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Keirsey Temperament Sorter focused on understanding how people's personality affects the way they interact personally, and how this affects the way individuals respond to each other within the learning environment. The work of David Kolb and Anthony Gregorc's Type Delineator follows a similar but more simplified approach.

It is currently fashionable to divide education into different learning "modes". The learning modalities are probably the most common:

  • Visual: learning based on observation and seeing what is being learned.
  • Auditory: learning based on listening to instructions/information.
  • Kinesthetic: learning based on hands-on work and engaging in activities.

Although it is claimed that, depending on their preferred learning modality, different teaching techniques have different levels of effectiveness, recent research has argued "there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning styles assessments into general educational practice."

A consequence of this theory is that effective teaching should present a variety of teaching methods which cover all three learning modalities so that different students have equal opportunities to learn in a way that is effective for them. Guy Claxton has questioned the extent that learning styles such as VAK are helpful, particularly as they can have a tendency to label children and therefore restrict learning.


Teacher in a classroom in Madagascar

Instruction is the facilitation of another's learning. Instructors in primary and secondary institutions are often called teachers, and they direct the education of students and might draw on many subjects like reading, writing, mathematics, science and history. Instructors in post-secondary institutions might be called teachers, instructors, or professors, depending on the type of institution; and they primarily teach only their specific discipline. Studies from the United States suggest that the quality of teachers is the single most important factor affecting student performance, and that countries which score highly on international tests have multiple policies in place to ensure that the teachers they employ are as effective as possible. With the passing of NCLB in the United States (No Child Left Behind), teachers must be highly qualified. A popular way to gauge teaching performance is to use student evaluations of teachers (SETS), but these evaluations have been criticized for being counterproductive to learning and inaccurate due to student bias.


Education theory can refer to either a normative or a descriptive theory of education. In the first case, a theory means a postulation about what ought to be. It provides the "goals, norms, and standards for conducting the process of education." In the second case, it means "an hypothesis or set of hypotheses that have been verified by observation and experiment." A descriptive theory of education can be thought of as a conceptual scheme that ties together various "otherwise discrete particulars. . .For example, a cultural theory of education shows how the concept of culture can be used to organize and unify the variety of facts about how and what people learn." Likewise, for example, there is the behaviorist theory of education that comes from educational psychology and the functionalist theory of education that comes from sociology of education.


Students on their way to school, Hakha, Chin State, Myanmar

It has been argued that high rates of education are essential for countries to be able to achieve high levels of economic growth. Empirical analyses tend to support the theoretical prediction that poor countries should grow faster than rich countries because they can adopt cutting edge technologies already tried and tested by rich countries. However, technology transfer requires knowledgeable managers and engineers who are able to operate new machines or production practices borrowed from the leader in order to close the gap through imitation. Therefore, a country's ability to learn from the leader is a function of its stock of " human capital". Recent study of the determinants of aggregate economic growth have stressed the importance of fundamental economic institutions and the role of cognitive skills.

At the individual level, there is a large literature, generally related back to the work of Jacob Mincer, on how earnings are related to the schooling and other human capital of the individual. This work has motivated a large number of studies, but is also controversial. The chief controversies revolve around how to interpret the impact of schooling.

Economists Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis famously argued in 1976 that there was a fundamental conflict in American schooling between the egalitarian goal of democratic participation and the inequalities implied by the continued profitability of capitalist production on the other.


Nalanda ancient centre for higher learning.
Plato's academy, mosaic from Pompeii.

The history of education according to Dieter Lenzen, president of the Freie Universität Berlin 1994, "began either millions of years ago or at the end of 1770". Education as a science cannot be separated from the educational traditions that existed before. Adults trained the young of their society in the knowledge and skills they would need to master and eventually pass on. The evolution of culture, and human beings as a species depended on this practice of transmitting knowledge. In pre-literate societies this was achieved orally and through imitation. Story-telling continued from one generation to the next. Oral language developed into written symbols and letters. The depth and breadth of knowledge that could be preserved and passed soon increased exponentially. When cultures began to extend their knowledge beyond the basic skills of communicating, trading, gathering food, religious practices, etc., formal education, and schooling, eventually followed. Schooling in this sense was already in place in Egypt between 3000 and 500BC.

The first large established university is thought to be Nalanda established in 427 A.D in India. At its peak, the university attracted scholars and students from as far away as Tibet, China, Greece, and Persia. The first university establishments in the western world are thought to be University of Bologna (founded in 1088) and later Oxford university (founded around 1096).

A depiction of the University of Bologna, Italy, founded in 1088.
Matteo Ricci (left) and Xu Guangqi (right) in the Chinese edition of Euclid's Elements published in 1607.

In the West, Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC. Plato was the Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician and writer of philosophical dialogues who founded the Academy in Athens which was the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Inspired by the admonition of his mentor, Socrates, prior to his unjust execution that "the unexamined life is not worth living", Plato and his student, the political scientist Aristotle, helped lay the foundations of Western philosophy and science.

The city of Alexandria in Egypt was founded in 330BC, became the successor to Athens as the intellectual cradle of the Western World. The city hosted such leading lights as the mathematician Euclid and anatomist Herophilus; constructed the great Library of Alexandria; and translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek (called the Septuagint for it was the work of 70 translators). Greek civilization was subsumed within the Roman Empire. While the Roman Empire and its new Christian religion survived in an increasingly Hellenised form in the Byzantine Empire centered at Constantinople in the East, Western civilization suffered a collapse of literacy and organization following the fall of Rome in AD 476.

In the East, Confucius (551-479), of the State of Lu, was China's most influential ancient philosopher, whose educational outlook continues to influence the societies of China and neighbours like Korea, Japan and Vietnam. He gathered disciples and searched in vain for a ruler who would adopt his ideals for good governance, but his Analects were written down by followers and have continued to influence education in the East into the modern era.

In Western Europe after the Fall of Rome, the Catholic Church emerged as the unifying force. Initially the sole preserver of literate scholarship in Western Europe, the church established Cathedral schools in the Early Middle Ages as centers of advanced education. Some of these ultimately evolved into medieval universities and forebears of many of Europe's modern universities. During the High Middle Ages, Chartres Cathedral operated the famous and influential Chartres Cathedral School. The medieval universities of Western Christendom were well-integrated across all of Western Europe, encouraged freedom of enquiry and produced a great variety of fine scholars and natural philosophers, including Thomas Aquinas of the University of Naples, Robert Grosseteste of the University of Oxford, an early expositor of a systematic method of scientific experimentation; and Saint Albert the Great, a pioneer of biological field research The University of Bologne is considered the oldest continually operating university.

Elsewhere during the Middle Ages, Islamic science and mathematics flourished under the Islamic caliphate established across the Middle East, extending from the Iberian Peninsula in the west to the Indus in the east and to the Almoravid Dynasty and Mali Empire in the south.

The Renaissance in Europe ushered in a new age of scientific and intellectual inquiry and appreciation of ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Around 1450, Johannes Gutenberg developed a printing press, which allowed works of literature to spread more quickly. The European Age of Empires saw European ideas of education in philosophy, religion, arts and sciences spread out across the globe. Missionaries and scholars also brought back new ideas from other civilisations — as with the Jesuit China missions who played a significant role in the transmission of knowledge, science, and culture between China and the West, translating Western works like Euclids Elements for Chinese scholars and the thoughts of Confucius for Western audiences. The Enlightenment saw the emergence of a more secular educational outlook in the West.

Modern times

Nowadays some kind of education is compulsory to all people in most countries. Due to population growth and the proliferation of compulsory education, UNESCO has calculated that in the next 30 years more people will receive formal education than in all of human history thus far.


John Locke's work Some Thoughts Concerning Education was written in 1693 and still reflects traditional education priorities in the Western world.

As an academic field, philosophy of education is a "the philosophical study of education and its problems...its central subject matter is education, and its methods are those of philosophy". "The philosophy of education may be either the philosophy of the process of education or the philosophy of the discipline of education. That is, it may be part of the discipline in the sense of being concerned with the aims, forms, methods, or results of the process of educating or being educated; or it may be metadisciplinary in the sense of being concerned with the concepts, aims, and methods of the discipline." As such, it is both part of the field of education and a field of applied philosophy, drawing from fields of metaphysics, epistemology, axiology and the philosophical approaches ( speculative, prescriptive, and/or analytic) to address questions in and about pedagogy, education policy, and curriculum, as well as the process of learning, to name a few. For example, it might study what constitutes upbringing and education, the values and norms revealed through upbringing and educational practices, the limits and legitimization of education as an academic discipline, and the relation between education theory and practice.


Chesterton said, "Modern education means handing down the customs of the minority, and rooting out the customs of the majority."

Purpose of schools

Individuals purposes for pursuing education can vary. However in early age the focus is generally around developing basic Interpersonal communication and literacy skills in order to further ability to learn more complex skills and subjects. After acquiring these basic abilities education is commonly focused towards individuals gaining necessary knowledge and skills to improve ability to create value and a livelihood for themselves. Satisfying personal curiosities (Education for the sake of itself) and desire for Personal development, to "better oneself" without career based reasons for doing so are also common reasons why people pursue education and use schools.


A class size experiment in the United States found that attending small classes for 3 or more years in the early grades increased high school graduation rates of students from low income families.

Educational psychology is the study of how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and the social psychology of schools as organizations. Although the terms "educational psychology" and "school psychology" are often used interchangeably, researchers and theorists are likely to be identified as educational psychologists, whereas practitioners in schools or school-related settings are identified as school psychologists. Educational psychology is concerned with the processes of educational attainment in the general population and in sub-populations such as gifted children and those with specific disabilities.

Educational psychology can in part be understood through its relationship with other disciplines. It is informed primarily by psychology, bearing a relationship to that discipline analogous to the relationship between medicine and biology. Educational psychology in turn informs a wide range of specialities within educational studies, including instructional design, educational technology, curriculum development, organizational learning, special education and classroom management. Educational psychology both draws from and contributes to cognitive science and the learning sciences. In universities, departments of educational psychology are usually housed within faculties of education, possibly accounting for the lack of representation of educational psychology content in introductory psychology textbooks (Lucas, Blazek, & Raley, 2006).


School children in Laos

The sociology of education is the study of how social institutions and forces affect educational processes and outcomes, and vice versa. By many, education is understood to be a means of overcoming handicaps, achieving greater equality and acquiring wealth and status for all (Sargent 1994). Learners may be motivated by aspirations for progress and betterment. Learners can also be motivated by their interest in the subject area or specific skill they are trying to learn. In fact, learner-responsibility education models are driven by the interest of the learner in the topic to be studied.

Education is perceived as a place where children can develop according to their unique needs and potentialities. The purpose of education can be to develop every individual to their full potential. The understanding of the goals and means of educational socialization processes differs according to the sociological paradigm used.

Developing countries

World map indicating Education Index (according to 2007/2008 Human Development Report)

Development goals and issues

Universal Primary Education is one of the eight international Millennium Development Goals, towards which progress has been made in the past decade, though barriers still remain. Securing charitable funding from prospective donors is one particularly persistent problem. Researchers at the Overseas Development Institute have indicated that the main obstacles to receiving more funding for education include conflicting donor priorities, an immature aid architecture, and a lack of evidence and advocacy for the issue. Additionally, Transparency International has identified corruption in the education sector as a major stumbling block to achieving Universal Primary Education in Africa. Furthermore, demand in the developing world for improved educational access is not as high as foreigners have expected. Indigenous governments are reluctant to take on the recurrent costs involved. There is economic pressure from those parents who prefer their children to earn money in the short term rather than work towards the long-term benefits of education.

A study conducted by the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning indicates that stronger capacities in educational planning and management may have an important spill-over effect on the system as a whole. Sustainable capacity development requires complex interventions at the institutional, organizational and individual levels that could be based on some foundational principles:

  • national leadership and ownership should be the touchstone of any intervention;
  • strategies must be context relevant and context specific;
  • they should embrace an integrated set of complementary interventions, though implementation may need to proceed in steps;
  • partners should commit to a long-term investment in capacity development, while working towards some short-term achievements;
  • outside intervention should be conditional on an impact assessment of national capacities at various levels.
Russia has more academic graduates than any other country in Europe. (Note, chart does not include population statistics.)

  • Removal of a certain percentage of students for improvisation of academics (usually practiced in schools, after 10th grade)

Education and technology in developing countries

The OLPC laptop being introduced to children in Haiti

Technology plays an increasingly significant role in improving access to education for people living in impoverished areas and developing countries. There are charities dedicated to providing infrastructures through which the disadvantaged may access educational materials, for example, the One Laptop per Child project.

The OLPC foundation, a group out of MIT Media Lab and supported by several major corporations, has a stated mission to develop a $100 laptop for delivering educational software. The laptops were widely available as of 2008. They are sold at cost or given away based on donations.

In Africa, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) has launched an " e-school program" to provide all 600,000 primary and high schools with computer equipment, learning materials and internet access within 10 years. An International Development Agency project called, started with the support of former American President Bill Clinton, uses the Internet to allow co-operation by individuals on issues of social development.

India is developing technologies that will bypass land-based telephone and Internet infrastructure to deliver distance learning directly to its students. In 2004, the Indian Space Research Organization launched EDUSAT, a communications satellite providing access to educational materials that can reach more of the country's population at a greatly reduced cost.

Internationalization (Globalization and Education)

Education is becoming increasingly international. The most represented case is the spread of mass schooling. Mass schooling has implanted the fundamental concepts that everyone has a right to be educated regardless of his/her cultural background and gender differences. The system has also promoted the global rules and norms of how the school should operate and what is education. Though the system can have variations in local, regional, and country level, the similarities — in systems or even in ideas — that schools share also enable the exchange among students at all levels which are also playing an increasingly important role in globalization process. In Europe, for example, the Socrates- Erasmus Program stimulates exchanges across European universities. Also, the Soros Foundation provides many opportunities for students from central Asia and eastern Europe. Programs such as the International Baccalaureate have contributed to the internationalization of education. Some scholars argue that, regardless of whether one system is considered better or worse than another, experiencing a different way of education can often be considered to be the most important, enriching element of an international learning experience. The global campus online, led by American universities, allows free access to class materials and lecture files recorded during the actual classes. This facilitates the globalization of education.


  • The Meaning of Educational Quality

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