Literacy vs Education: The Missing Link

 Literacy vs Education: The Missing Link

By Onwuka, Ezinwanne

If a person can read and write; therefore fluent in English, we can consider him or her to be literate.

But can we say that he is educated?

Literacy is often equated with education, but it is not the same. One who is literate can read and write. Therefore, literacy is the ability to read and write. One does not need to write long essays to be literate. Reading and writing short sentences is enough. Also, being literate means that one can solve simple mathematical questions. It can be said that one needs to be literate to survive in this world. Our day-to-day activities require literacy. Literacy gives one factual information so that they can read a document before putting their signature, follow traffic signs on the road or calculate the amount of balance they will get from the trader at the market.

Education, on the other hand, is a broader concept. One does not necessarily need to be literate to be educated. This is because education is not simply theoretical. Education is not just about getting a degree and passing exams. Education offers knowledge to people, opens their minds to new things and helps them perceive such things in new ways. Education helps one to get rid of prejudices, superstitions among others to be a rational human being able to not just take in information but understand if it is worth it or not. Being educated is exposing oneself to several aspects of life.

Literacy is a step towards education and if one fails in this basic step, it becomes difficult to be educated. For me, education is the complete development of a person in terms of knowledge, sensibility and most importantly, behaviour in different situations.

The difference between an educated mind and a literate mind is that only an educated man can bring about changes in the society and contribute to the development of the society, which inter alia leads to the development of the nation. In Nigeria, almost all the literate persons know the saying, “honesty is the best policy”. But the question arises whether all of them practice it in their daily lives. The answer, you would agree with me, is a resounding “no”. Very few practice it though everyone knows it.

Nowadays, we learn for grades. Teachers discriminate amongst students on the basis of their academic grades forgetting that each student has his or her capability and interests. This is the bane of our education system. We must encourage our children to excel in the fields which they desire to grow. They must be provided with the option to develop themselves. If we judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, then we are only making a fool of ourselves. While teaching a child, both parents and teachers must keep in mind the words of Margaret Mead: “the child must be taught how to think and not what to think.” Based on this, the goal of education, then, is not necessarily the mastery of a subject but the mastery of oneself.

Literate and educated are words that people usually use interchangeably like they are synonymous. But, they are different and independent of each other. A literate person might not be educated and vice versa. That we think that one needs to be literate to be considered educated or educated to be considered literate is wrong. However, both literacy and education helps one in the long run. We can think of an educated Nigeria if we have a literate Nigeria.   Unfortunately, we only run behind literacy and evade education. One is only considered good enough when they produce their grades and degrees, as the case may be. Our country is trying hard to make all her citizens literate but relegating education in the process.

Based on this, the goal of education, then, is not necessarily the mastery of a subject but the mastery of oneself.

Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River state, Nigeria. She is a corp member serving in Cross River state.  She writes unique and research-driven content about life, politics, religion and more. You can reach her on [email protected].

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