Human beings have been learning various skills from time immemorial. This process of learning used to take place in the context of socialization in which young people learn the basics of communication, apprenticeship and day to day social interaction with the members of the family and community.
With the emergence of modernity, process of learning evolves over time. This is what led to the establishment of school as the formal institution that offers knowledge using a more systematic approach and well designated curriculum. Meanwhile, school has become an indispensable citadel of learning for many reasons.
The school serves the function which cannot be provided either by the family or peer groups, or the community at large. The membership of family or kinship, and peer group are largely by on personal choice and does not guarantee skill in a particular specialization, such as engineering, medicine, or law. But modern education introduced such specializations with certification.
In addition, school is operated based on some codified rules and regulations governing the conduct of the people within it, but rules of behavior are not codified in family and the peer group. School is designed to educate a student for some specified period, but socialization in the family or community is learned till death. That is why socialization is defined as a life long process of learning.
In addition to the specific objectives of teaching and learning, school offers other indirect benefits to us. This is in line with the arguments of Merton (1947) that social institutions (schools inclusive) are created to satisfy human social needs or requisites, but they also give unspecified or unintended functions. That is the manifest and latent functions. Education or school is one of those institutions, the manifest function of which is to instill in us knowledge and cultural elements (material and nonmaterial) of our society. The latent function of school include social connections, extracurricular activities, and learning things which one did not intend to learn there. Some people even found spouses and business partners in school.
Individuals learn to cooperate and respect one another in the school. The children learn how to respect rules in school and then the general rules of the society. In school, the education being taught expose individual to specific skills prepare him or her for future occupation. In view of this, school is an indispensable citadel of learning.
Ahmed Bala Bakabe
Department of Sociology, YSU.