In this third article of the series on the indispensable role of education in national recovery and development particular attention is paid to the role of the educated in society. What then is the role of the truly educated in society? The second article on the question of “Who is an educated person?” or “What is education?” highlighted the following key points:
The question “who is an educated person” implies the purpose of education. The word education has all sorts of meanings and connotations. Its origin, educare, means to lead out. Education occurs when, knowledge, skills and habits are formed, through teaching, training and research, usually transferred from one person or generation to another. Another definition of education is any experience that has a formative influence on a person is a form of education.
Education can be formal. Formal education is usually well structured and involves learning lots of theories and formulae. It can be informal like the poro or sandi societies or apprenticeship by observing and doing (practical).Whatever form it takes the overall purpose or objective of education is to cultivate competence, efficiency, and to build character.
Martin Luther King, Jr. sees the purpose of education as two-fold: (1) utility—to make people useful and to be able to contribute to the wellbeing of society; and (2) character—to instill lasting values in people. Lasting values include putting God first, integrity (honesty, fairness to self and others), hard work, sharing the good things of life (God’s blessings) with others, and respecting the feelings, opinions and rights of others. Competence and efficiency without character or morals could be dangerous. A trained mind without morals could be the worst criminal! That person could use his/her well developed mind for dishonorable purposes! For example, some of the IT gurus are Cyber criminals (rogues)! A well educated person is one who is equipped to live a better life and to help others live better lives.
What then is such a person’s responsibility to society? Some people see education as a means to acquiring lots of wealth, having access to power, and for having social prestige and respectability, and thereby to abuse power and people, and to look down upon others who are less privileged than they. But the essence of true education is to make the educated person useful to God and serviceable to society. How?
Let us begin with God. To be serviceable to oneself, family, Church, community and society at large one must first be useful to God, the Creator and Sustainer of all of life. The religious factor or element of life is key to understanding mankind and its needs and solutions. Martin Luther King, Jr. puts it right when wrote that if we get our theology (our understanding of who God is and requires of us; God-talk) wrong then our anthropology (our understanding of man) will be wrong. Man was created in the image of God to worship and enjoy fellowship with him. We were all made for worship and if we refuse to worship God we will worship money, power, another person and other created things. But worship must we. So the supreme purpose of man’s existence is to know God, worship him, do his will and enjoy him forever. Jesus puts it beautifully and accurately: “seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
The first duty of every person is to know that you are a servant of God; I am a servant of God. The word servant sometime has a negative connotation today but from a biblical perspective it is a noble word. All the great men and women of the Bible are called servants of God: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Peter, and Paul.
The second primary duty is to know your calling or vocation, the specific task or mission you were made for. Rick Warren in his famous book, The Purpose Driven Life: Why Am I on Earth, argues forcefully that you and I need to know the specific purpose (career or calling) of our lives. It is that which you were made for and have a passion for; enjoy doing and you do not need urging to do.
The role of an educated person in society in summary is to serve self, family, Church, community and society at large. A person who has acquired a sound education, accompanied by a strong moral character, is obliged to contribute more to the wellbeing of society than those less educated or with no formal education all. The Bible says, “to whom much is given must is expected” (Luke 12:48). The role of an educated person in society is to promote the goodness of that society: peace, economic empowerment for the less fortunate and vulnerable groups, advocating and working hard for the protection and advancement of the rights of all, and the education of all in all manners and forms.