What’s the point of education?

Jonathan Pang with Ai Luan and Chong Tee // September 11, 2018, 5:03 pm


Education has gotten a bit of a bad rap in recent times.

Eastern youths equate it with cramming content choc-a-bloc into their heads for a major examination in order to buy a ticket to future success, whereas an increasing population of their Western counterparts see it as useless given that their current job markets favour skill-building over knowledge-building for survival. Even working within an institute or university is perceived as a fake job disconnected from the harsh realities of industry.

Overall, it appears as though our generation of youth seem unable to find purpose – let alone a sense of passion or gain in formal education. Seems easy to write off formal education at this point.

But what if I told you that education was instituted by God in the first place? Here are my three points arguing why education remains relevant in our present age.

Knowledge is meant to be put to work



1. Education comes from God

“For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” (Romans 10:2-3)

The perfect knowledge that came with direct intimacy with our Creator was lost in the Fall of Adam and Eve. As such, the impartation of knowledge (through either human or divine means) became necessary given the resultant flawed nature of human cognition.

Knowledge is meant to be put to work – not remain a stagnant or hypothetical affair. Just imagine if Abraham had not acted on the instruction to leave the land of Babel and set out with his family to Canaan, or if Paul chose not to write any letters to the various churches he ministered to.

If Paul hadn’t written those letters, it would have resulted in transgression running rampant within religious communities. That would surely have spelled the demise of the early Church.

Ultimately, if no knowledge of God was handed down through the generations and compiled within Scripture, humanity would have a dimmer and distanced view of God (Romans 1:23-32).

As Christians, experiential and theoretical knowledge do not merely impact the mind but are interconnected with the soul and spirit, and should therefore serve to lead us back to the God of truth as we allow Him to dwell within and nurture our hearts. Here is where divine instruction is needed, to avoid falling into falsehood in life.

2. Education is not to be written off

“Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table.(Proverbs 9:1-2)

On a personal level, I cannot help but notice that within my circle of acquaintances in Christian societies, there are several who forsake their studies and admit to having carried out insufficient preparations for assessments, preferring to allot such time to ministry work.

We would be wrong to presume that human wisdom concerning the natural world – though undoubtedly inferior to divine wisdom – is of no importance compared to the supernatural.

Many longstanding European universities possess mottos glorifying the Creator: one such example is Oxford’s Dominus illuminatio mea (The Lord is my Light). Throughout life, knowledge is meant to nurture and develop us mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It doesn’t end when you’re finished with “Past Year Papers” or “Ten Year Series”.

Knowledge is a trust given to mankind. Therefore, our academic progress should not be taken lightly.

3. Education is our duty to our fellow men

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)

Whether you’re an Arts, Social Science or Commerce major, or in Junior College or Polytechnic … never forget your calling to serve the Lord through what is learnt in school. Education is a privilege – not a birthright – that many of our forefathers never had the opportunity to access.

Aside from using the path you take in your schooling to determine your future career, use it as a means to solve a problem outside your comfort zone – no matter whether it’s your community or country. While it takes many hands to solve the multi-faceted ills plaguing society today, God has given each of us a calling to labour in His love through the talents He has blessed us with (1 Corinthians 12:14-31) in a lifetime’s worth of learning.

Education is a privilege – not a birthright – that many of our forefathers never had the opportunity to access.

In the meantime, use your intellect to guide and coach others who are struggling in their education journey.
Personally it can be as simple as providing consultations or curricular reviews to university friends. This may sound counterintuitive in a rat-race or a bell-curve mentality, yet our “rivals” are simply our fellow brothers and sisters who we can and should reach out to – especially when it is within our power to do so.

We are exhorted in the apostles’ letters to usher in the Kingdom of God during our transitory lives on Earth, that the world will see and know Christ through our good works in His name (Matthew 5:16). So we must go beyond the need to do well in our studies.

We have a divine command to use our education and do good.