Want To Succeed In Life Then EDUCATE Yourself

By Zile Singh


“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.   – Nelson Mandela

Education is a medium of teaching and  learning various skills like speech, reading and writing.  Education starts in an informal way from the birth of a child.  Formal education starts at a certain age by going to school. After that, it depends on  the capacity and ability of each individual to acquire education in his chosen subject at  college and  university  levels.   It is a vital tool to succeed in life. It helps us to interpret things rightly and apply it in real life.  It is the master key to all-round development.   It is one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality and lays the foundation for a sustained economic growth.    Education has synonyms like: instruction, schooling, teaching, training, tuition, tutelage.  The lack of education is called  ignorance and illiteracy.  A right to education has been recognized by many governments and the United Nations.  Almost in every country, education is compulsory and free up to a certain age.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015 calls for a new vision to address the environmental, social and economic concerns facing the world today.  The Agenda includes 17 goals.  To ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning is one of the goals.

Recently many countries are changing the way of educating their children.  The emphasis is on teaching the skills of learning.  In Finland, schools have begun to move away from the regular subject-focused curricula, introducing instead developments like phenomenon-based learning, where students study concepts like climate change, environmental protection etc.  Education is becoming adult-friendly as well.  Some governmental bodies, like the Innovation Fund Sitra in Finland have proposed compulsory life-long education.                 “ Develop a passion for learning.  If you do, you will never cease to grow”- Anthony J. D’Angelo.

John Dewey, a renowned political thinker said thus: “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”  Bharat Rattan Dr. B.R  Ambedkar, Chief Architect of the Indian Constitution and a social reformer who studied under Prof. Dewey at

Columbia University, New York,  understood the importance of education.  He educated himself at the cost of his health.  Sometimes,  he used to spend  nights in the Library. Dr. Ambedkar was one of the highly qualified personalities of the world. He knew that education only can give  freedom to ordinary masses from the bondage of the feudal lords and emancipate the lowest rung of society from the  centuries-old  inhuman conditions under the caste system.  The Messiah of Dalits, as he is popularly known in India and a champion of Human Rights, gave a clarion call “ Educate, Organize and Agitate”.  The government of India  observed his 61st. Mahaprinirvan Diwas (death anniversary) on December 6th.  On December 10, the International Human Rights Day, the Buddhist Society and Ambedkar International Social Reforms Organization (AISRO) Canada celebrated the day at Dr. Ambedkar Room, Surrey Central Library.

Informal education also has played a great role in the history of the world.  Some autodidacts (partially or wholly self-taught)  personalities of the world are:

Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest Presidents of the United States and a Great                                           Emancipator, liberated over four million slaves was self-taught.

Rabindranath Tagore, who won Nobel Prize of Literature for Gitanjali.

Maxim Gorky, rose out of poverty to become a world-famous writer.

George Bernard Shaw, playwright.  He said, “I did not learn anything at school.”

Ernest Hemingway, novelist -He read for hours at a time in bed.

Thomas Alva Edison, greatest inventor and businessman

Henry Ford,  Founder of Ford Motor Company, did not attend college.

Christopher Columbus,  who explored America, was home-schooled.

Karl Marx, a socialist philosopher, was self-taught in economics

Srinivasa Ramanujam,  mathematician , self-taught in mathematics.

Adolf Hitler, Nazi Chancellor of Germany, self-educated through libraries.

Abigail Adams, one of the most intellectual and well-educated First Lady of the US, ( First Vice President and Second President John Adams’s wife ) never had her formal education.  She studied English, French, theology, ancient history, law, philosophy, government and other topics only through libraries.

Edith Wharton,  American, was not deterred by her lack of formal education.  During her lifetime, she wrote hundreds of stories, books and essays. She won Pulitzer Prize for her novel  “ The Age of Innocence” making her the first woman to ever receive this honour.

Education has always been there in the forms of books, listening and doing.  If someone is persistent enough to want to learn something, irrespective of age and financial conditions, it is important to never close your mind but to keep it open.  There are examples of some super seniors who remained dedicated to education-related fields and achieved great fame :

-At 84, Somerset Maugham wrote “Points of View”

At 85, Theodore Mommsen  became the oldest person to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature.

At 91, Allan Stewart completed a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of  New England.

At 96, Harry Bernstein published his first book “ The Invisible Wall”

Zile Singh is a former Ambassador(Retd.) of India and a Vipassana Meditator. He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca .


Education is the Key written on a chalkboard.


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