Q8 Do you agree that education is no longer the key to success?
Education exists in many forms to empower people with new knowledge and skills. However, the predominant form of education will be through schooling. In many countries, the burden of creating a good education lies with the government. Through education, the government hopes to create a batch of people who will be successful in their life, thus contributing to the country. Success in life includes both the quantitative (financial ability, material well-being) and qualitative (mental and spiritual well-being) aspects. However, both are very much related to the economic success of a person in today’s increasingly pragmatic society. I believe that education still remains as one of the main factors to success, although its significance has been reduced.
Today, we live in a more inter-connected world. With the creation of the Internet, information is made available and accessible to us easily. Thus, the value of information has dropped significantly. There is no longer a need for people who have the ability to store information due to the omnipresence of computers and the Internet. In addition, the focus is now more on creating a knowledge-based Economy where creativity and innovation are the keys to success. In view of this, many of the current education provided by schools will not be sufficient. For example, the education system in China and Singapore still focus very much on the transfer of knowledge through textbooks and notes. This form of education allows less room for the growth of creativity and innovation. Thus, it is unlikely for a student to climb up high on the corporate ladder in his later stages of life as he or she may only be able to regurgitate what is in the notes but not able to apply the knowledge effectively. As such, the current form of education may not be able to equipped students with the right keys to achieve economical success in life.
However, this does not deny the fact that there is still a need for education. Education builds the foundation and basis of a person and also imparts life-long learning attitude and skills. To be successful in life, a person should be able to make morally-sound and informed decisions. This will not only prevent the person from breaking the law, but also form the guiding principles in life and work. In addition, with the right attitudes in mind, a person can become more self-motivated and thus achieving success in their economic goals. Being in schools helps students pick up good habits and recognize what is right and wrong. This is due to the fact that most schools have rules in place and students will be given chances to learn from their mistakes even if they have broken the rules. For example, when a student is caught committing theft in school, he or she would likely to undergo counseling rather than being put behind bars. Thus, schools and classroom are often thought as the ‘safe’ place to make mistakes. Although it is not guaranteed that those who are educated would not break the law, it is notable that these people remain as the minority. Thus, education still provides the majority with the basic learning attitudes that will help them in attaining success in life.
Moreover, educational allows people to be exposed to new opportunities which form an essential gateway to success. Through education, people will gain better knowledge and understanding of themselves and others. This opens up new working opportunities for them. For example, a degree nowadays will serve as a ‘passport’ to better working opportunities. Education provides a platform for people to excel, regardless of their background. Thus, it is always seen to be an option and solution for people to break free from the poverty cycle. Various educational programs headed by different agencies such as the USAID provide African children with more opportunities to study. Not only do these educated Africans able to work (even outside of its borders), they will also be able to spread the importance of education and serve as positive role models to others. Thus, it provides them a chance to break free from the vicious cycle and pave the road to success in life. In addition, access to education for women has also result in empowerment of women, allowing them to participate more in the corporate world, thus achieving better economic status and success for themselves. For example, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama are important figures with great influence in the political arena.
It should also be noted that any education system will evolves with time and responds to the needs of success. In Singapore, the education system has been revised many times to cater to the pragmatic needs of our society. This is evident in the introduction of new subjects such as China and India studies due to the booming economies in these countries. There is also more focus on the development of arts and culture. SOTA (School of the Arts) is also set up by the Singapore government as the first pre-tertiary arts-based school in Singapore. This facilitates the building of a more culturally vibrant Singapore. These modifications to the education system alter the benefits brought about by education. Overtime, the key to success may change but education itself, can also respond to suit what is demanded for success.
Fundamentally, education still remains as one of the essential keys to success today. However, in a world where change is the only constant, requirements and formulas to success are also ever-changing. Thus, adjustments to the education systems may not catch up fast enough in paces with the demands of success. Therefore, it should be recognized that to succeed in life today, one not only needs education, but also personal efforts, good learning and working attitudes in order to keep up with the demands of success.