Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave. -Lord Chancellor Baron Henry Peter
Freedom would be meaningless, if existent at all, in the absence of education. This is because knowledge is paramount in every sphere of life. It is the most potent tool for charting the growth and development of a society.
The process of acquiring, reforming and utilizing and imparting knowledge is what is termed ‘education’. Education is a broad, functional term – implying all forms of training, learning, practice and experience that improve a person’s output from cradle to grave. While in strict sense, there is no one without education or knowledge, I take ‘education’ in this context to mean ‘formal and functional learning or acquisition of skills’ so that one who has not consciously undergone any training can rightly be classified as uneducated.
Freedom denotes the liberty to act freely and independently within the limit of the law without being coerced or unduly influenced. It is a person’s right to think independently, associate with whom he wills, say and belief what he likes, move to and live in where he chooses and engages in what activities please him, provided no law is violated. It is my contention that a person who lacks education is not free but in shackles in every area of his being.
The world over, education is recognized as indispensable. International legal instruments including the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the constitution of every nation of the world guarantee it.
In the religious circles, learning is given a very high premium as a prerequisite for freedom and salvation. The first 5 verses revealed of the Qur’an commands the seeking of knowledge. “Read! In the name of your Lord Who has created…Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not.” (Qur’an 96: 1-5).
The Bible also says, “And ye shall know truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32). By analogy, if a dog recognizes his master, never will it be deceived into deeming as its master a rogue who would only enslave or murder it.
In the social setting, education ensures a person is capable of pursuing his legitimate interests without jeopardizing the rights of others and the community as a whole. He does not resort to violence as a means of ventilating his grievances.
In Nigeria for instance, the Northern region has witnessed series of avoidable ethno-religious violence with thousands of casualties. This is due to the high level of illiteracy in the region as no religion allows the indiscriminate cleansing of an ethnic or religious group.
The fact that only 45 of the 117 Nigerian universities in are in the region, about 10 million almajiris (pupils memorizing the Qur’an and begging to fend for themselves without any formal education) and many more of their youth do not attend any formal institution of learning reveal how educationally deficient the region must be.
These are just some ways in which education safeguards freedom and a lack of it makes one vulnerable to servitude and oppression.
To be continued in part II.
*Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin is a professional freelance writer and the CEO of Naija Writers’ Coach. He posts essay contest announcements and teaches how to write winning essays at www.NaijaWritersCoach.com. You may follow him on Twitter @Oxygenmat