Education in the largest sense is any act or experience that
has a formative effect on the mind, character, or physical
ability of an individual. In its technical sense, education
is the process by which society deliberately transmits its
accumulated knowledge, skills, and values from one
generation to another.
Etymologically, the word education is derived from educare
(Latin) "bring up", which is related to educere "bring out",
"bring forth what is within", "bring out potential" and
ducere, "to lead".
Teachers in educational institutions direct the education of
students and might draw on many subjects, including reading,
writing, mathematics, science and history. This process is
sometimes called schooling when referring to the education
of teaching only a certain subject, usually as professors at
institutions of higher learning. There is also education in
fields for those who want specific vocational skills, such
as those required to be a pilot. In addition there is an
array of education possible at the informal level, such as
in museums and libraries, with the Internet and in life
experience. Many non-traditional education options are now
available and continue to evolve. One of the most
substantial uses in education is the use of technology.
Classrooms of the 21st century contain interactive white
boards, tablets, mp3 players, laptops, etc. Teachers are
encouraged to embed these technological devices in the
curriculum in order to enhance students learning and meet
the needs of various types of learners.
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. At
world level, the United Nations' International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 guarantees this
right under its Article 13.
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 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 and the 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 the employer and the employee, because
this 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, the grammar school or academy existed from as
early as the 16th century; public schools or fee-paying
schools, or charitable educational foundations have an even
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, 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 includes teaching, research and social
services activities of universities, and within the realm of
teaching, it includes both the undergraduate level
(sometimes referred to as tertiary education) and the
graduate (or postgraduate) level (sometimes referred to as
graduate school). 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.
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
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 widely, but often emphasize the value
of small class size, close relationships between students
and teachers, and a sense of community.
Increasingly, the inclusion of indigenous models of
education (methods and content) as an alternative within the
scope of formal and non-formal education systems, has come
to represent a significant factor contributing to the
success of those members of indigenous communities who
choose to access these systems, both as students/learners
and as teachers/instructors.