The aims, goals and objectives of education have debated since ancient times, with philosophers such as Aristotle arguing that education should be aimed at promoting knowledge and virtue rather than simply training citizens to do certain tasks. Viewpoints on what education should achieve can differ. For some, education is all about cultivating the mind of the individual so that people can achieve their aims in life, whilst others argue that education should be focussed in improving society and benefiting the community.
Education should help young people pursue a happy and successful life. It should allow them to experience a range of activities and allow choice about which subjects they wish to engage with further. Education should also prepare young people for later life. Pupils should learn about the types of careers available to them and how to work towards the job that they want. They should also have some focus on life skills such as developing a healthy diet and lifestyle, and managing finances.
Educating young people to become responsible citizens should also be an objective. Education should teach them about working and communicating with other people in a tolerant and respectful manner and develop skills such as negotiation and compromise. Understanding democratic processes and the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a democratic society should also be an aim of education.
In the UK, a statutory curriculum lays out expectations of standards that all schools should meet. The Department of Education (DoE) states that all children have an entitlement to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding to become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens. The DoE states that education should prepare children for both the here and now and their future, widen their horizons and raise aspirations.
Around the world
In some parts of the world, the aims of education are simply to ensure that people receive a basic education. At a global level, the Education for All (EFA) movement, working alongside organisations such as UNESCO, has pledged to promote universal education and literacy around the world. Included in its key goals are the expansion of early education, an increase in adult literacy, greater gender parity in education, and the promotion of learning and life skills for young people and adults.
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