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The meaning of education and different aims of education are correlated terms. One should be clear with the aims of education and its purposes as much as its meaning and concept. Education is always purposive and goal-seeking. As a result, parents are conscious of its aims before sending their children to school. In the complex world of education today, the clearness of educational aim has become necessary. They have to think of their children’s future life and vocation so that their education may become purposive and useful and life becomes beautiful. To have an effective aim of education has become an urgent need from the country’s socio-economic point of view. So, the aim of education is a matter of concern to all those involves in the task of education.

The need for Different Aims of Education

Before we make the necessary plan and program of life and education, the determination of an aim is essential. In the absence of an aim, life becomes clumsy, desperate, and whimsical that lacks in the sense of initiative and direction. Consequently, the course of development remains uncertain and erroneous in reaching the goal. Clear determination of the aims of education may only ensure the development of life in the right direction towards reaching the goal. Also, the consciousness of educational aim may help to remain alert and overcome the hurdles and difficulties that stand in its way.

Therefore, the aim should not be considered as mere day-dreaming of an idle person. Behind every scientific plan and program, there is a clear aim and purpose. In education, the aim goes to affect all its theoretical and practical plans and program. Admission of the learners, selection of the courses for study, method of teaching, the teaching aid and apparatus, the standard of discipline, and system of evaluation are all dependent on the educational aim. Apart from that, the rate of progress or the extent of success or failure achieved in the attempt may also be perceived in relation to its aim. So, the aim may be described as the yard-stick to progress or achievement attained.

The needs for educational aims are the following points.

  • A clear concept of educational aim is necessary to make an effective plan and program of life.
  • The educational aim may ensure the development of life in the right direction.
  • Also, it may help to remain alert for the possible problems and difficulties to be encountered on its way.
  • Its theoretical and practical aspects or elements of knowledge and experience may be designed as per the aim.
  • Further, the educational aim may act as a yard-stick to achievement or failure in the attempt of teaching-learning activity.

Different Aims of Education:

The difference in educational aim may be attributed to two basic philosophical ideas of individualism and collectivism. One upholds the individual and his needs and the other upholds the society and its hope and aspirations. Accordingly, they emerge as an individual and social aim in education respectively. The specific aims that have developed out of these two major aims or ideals may be named below:

  1. Aim of Education for Human resource development:

Modern education aims at the development of human resources. A country owns its two types of resources that need to be utilized and developed for its prosperity and the situation of plenty. These two resources are natural resources and human resources.

Natural resources are fixed, but human resources are variable. Natural resources may again be subdivided into mineral resources, forest resources, and water resources. It is worth mentioning that the uses of the vast natural resources of the country depend upon the development of human resources and human resource development depends upon education.

Thus, education is the key to the training and development of human resources. In turn, it affects the usage of God gifted natural resources of the land. In the absence of education, mere possession of natural resources cannot ensure individual and social progress. Thus in the context of modem educational aim, the development of human resources is a matter of primary concern.

Further, in regard to the development of human resources through education, a controversial issue comes up for our consideration. The issue is, whether education should give priority to the development of individuals or to society. Which aspect whether the individual or the society should be the center of concentration in education remains wide open for discussion.

  1. Individual Aim of Education:

This aim believes that education should give top priority to develop the highest degree of individual excellence. Man is to be viewed as a biological, potential for development. He has certain psychophysical qualities of his own which are distinctly separate from another individual. Education should, therefore, be designed for a fuller development of all the native inborn qualities, potentialities, and prospects. A fully developed individual can only bring about social change and development by making his original contribution. So, the claims of an individual should always be above the claims of society.

Further, society should not create hurdles and restrict self-promoted individual education and development. A child’s education should be spontaneous, self-guided, and self-directed. For this state of education, individual liberty and freedom are an essential condition. Freedom of self-activity may only make self-education and development natural, spontaneous and desirable Self-realization and spiritual perfection which are the highest aim of life may also be achieved through this aim.

Strength of Individual Aims of Education

The progressive thinkers of education at present are more inclined to support individual aim. It is backed by naturalistic science which has its strong ground for acceptance. Our attention here on the strength of individuals aims of education are:

  • Educational development is strictly an individualized process. Therefore, its aim should provide scope to develop the individual as per his nature and rate of development.
  • Social development depends on individual development. So, all great social achievements are in fact made possible by certain fully developed individuals in society.
  • Society is needed only to serve the individual need and safeguard individual interests, including education. Society is to be used as a means to develop individuality.
  • Individualism in education supports Darwin’s theory of evolution and survival of the fittest. The present society and its education is the result of such evolution.
  • Individuals differ so far as their biological heredity and genetic qualities are concerned. The educational aim should not ignore the biological potential and limitations of individuals.

The weakness of Individual Aims of Education

The weaknesses of Individual Aims of Education are:

  • While upholding biological heredity, the individual aim has undermined the social heredity of the child. It is after all social heredity to which the child is brought up for development.
  • The development of individuality apart from society is a figment of the imagination. An individual may develop to the extent to which a society is developed.
  • Education for individuality is likely to make the child self-seeking and self-concentrated. An individual left to himself is an animal rather than a civilized man.
  • The concept of individual freedom given to little children is subjected to criticism. They are young and immature to make effective use of their natural freedom.
  • Human nature is both individual and social. As such educational aim should agree on these two aspects and not glorify the individual aspect alone.
  1. Social Aim of Education

Social aim believes in the collectivism of education. So, education should prepare a child to live as an effective member of society. State or society is of supreme consideration. It is the end to which an individual is a means. Society is the whole of which an individual is a part. Individual progress is subjected to the social situation and its progress. So, education should aim at the welfare and wellbeing of society or the state. Every individual should work for the good of society subordinating his own self to social needs. Society is the divine creation that has superhuman power to exercised over individuals.

Every individual life is protected, sustained, and provided by this superhuman power of the society or the state. Therefore, education should train individuals to conform to the ideals of the state. The state should design, organize, and control education for social welfare and social efficiency. It involves good citizenship and economic self-sufficiency through education. It is the responsibility of the state to dictate the education of an individual. Thus, education should train the child to live as an effective member of society.

Strength of Social aim

The pragmatic philosophy of education has largely influenced the social aim for which it has built a strong foundation. Thus, the following are the points in support of this aim.

  • Love for society is a vital aim of man that needs to be trained and developed for social efficiency. It may only ensure social progress.
  • The social environment can only help to identify the native abilities and prospects inherent in the individual. It also provides an opportunity for training and development.
  • Individuals are not separate and isolated elements but are vital parts of social structure. The role of an individual in society is as important as the role of the cell for our body structure.
  • Individual needs, hopes, and goals can be well reflected and well achieved through a well-organized and developed society. Individual life will be poor, brutish, and also short in the absence of society.
  • Further, in the modern world, an individual cannot be completely self-sufficient. Increasing the need and gradual complexity of our social life has made individuals more interdependent.

The weakness of the Social aim of Education

Some of the critical viewpoints against this aim are:

  • The social aim of education may develop a sense of authoritarianism or dictatorship of the state towards education. Individuals in such cases will not find suitable scope for development.
  • Also, the concept of a superhuman entity of the state fails to recognize individual identity and capability of achievement. It denies the principle of natural self-expression and development of the child.
  • The science of psychology which has proved the truth of individual differences has been denied by this aim. All individuals cannot develop equally even if they have the same freedom and the best kind of education.
  • The social aim may create a group of people who believe in blind imitation of the social heritage. They will be lacking in the sense of personal initiative for creative development.
  1. Vocational Aim

In the modern world of science and technology, the vocational aim of education is naturally gaining more importance. This aim of education is based on the modern philosophy of our life and experiences. It means that education should give better livelihood or means to our life. Whatever is learned should be useful and helpful for our practical life. Education should make one economically self-sufficient and productive member of society. One should not become a burden of society, unfit to do anything useful and productive.

The state is responsible to train its people in making them economically productive. The use of manpower and development of human resources of a country can be effected through the vocational ideal of education. Vocational efficiency and economic competence are the present need of social reality. Therefore, the state or the government should serve this individual need towards the social end.

It may be noted that our vocational life and its needs have not remained the same as it was in the past. Every vocation or profession today is science and technology-based which needs specific training to increase productivity and to improves the quality of production. In the competitive world of today, it is the quality of production that matters. So, specific technology-based vocational training is the only way out.

In a democratic society today, vocational education has its special meaning. Every individual in a democracy has the right and duty to perform in society. So, he should make himself involved in social progress through active participation in the economic productivity of the country. The economic involvement of individuals may only make him a useful, loyal, and disciplined citizen. This can be achieved by none other than the vocational ideal of education. Feeling of the sense of pride and honor of the country may be promoted in the citizens only through their solid economic contributions. The Secondary Education Commission of 1953 has rightly focused our attention to this point by saying, “The aim of Secondary School Education is to train the youth of the country to be good citizen, who will be competent to play their part effectively in the social reconstruction and economic development of their country.”

The need for Vocational aims of Education

Without elaboration, the present need and importance of this aim in education are as follows:

  • The vocational aim of education can serve the present reality of life and the needs of an individual.
  • It may help to utilize individual capacity for social progress.
  • Also, it helps the state in making effective use of manpower resources for the country’s development.
  • The vocational aim can make individuals good, loyal, and productive citizens.
  • It can help the modernization of people through an effective adjustment with modern science and technology.
  • This aim of education can solve the socio-economic problems including the problem of unemployment in the youths.
  • Further, the vocational aim is suitable for the students of lower intelligence groups to make their education meaningful.
  • Sense of patriotism and devotion to the country in mind of the youths may be promoted through this aim.

Limitations of Vocational aims of Education

The vocational aim of education cannot be said as universally acceptable. It can help to satisfy the immediate biological and material needs of man but fails to satisfy the mental or spiritual need which is higher. The man cannot lives only with bread and butter. Our living has its purpose beyond the attainment of food and cloth. He is to modify the animal instincts and develop a human feeling and attitude for better perfection of life. Man has the spiritual life to which society gives more importance.

His objective of life is to raise himself from the biological level to the social and spiritual level. Spiritual attainment may only give him durable peace and happiness and that is the highest goal of life. He is to acquire, preserve, and protect the vast human culture, literature, and science and contribute to their progressive development from his side. The vocational aim cannot help to materialize these objectives. So, the idealist philosophers are quite critical of this utilitarian aim of education.

  1. Liberal Aims of Education

As against the extreme mechanistic concept of life and its education liberal aim of education has been suggested. It has a historical origin in concept and development. The ancient Greeks as well as the Indian philosophers maintain that education is to liberate or set free our mind or soul from the bondage of the body. Our soul which is the part of the eternal soul is by birth confined to the body and its bodily needs.

Therefore, education is the means to liberate the soul and to mingle it with the eternal soul, God Himself. For this purpose, man is to involve in the liberal culture of art, music, literature, and philosophy. Such intellectual culture may only make a man refined and cultured and enable him to rise from the animal level to the spiritual level. This aim is, therefore, also famous as a cultural aim of education. It may help man utilize his leisure hour more healthily and creatively.

  1. Citizenship Aims of Education

In a democratic society, there are an urgent need of making people good, loyal, and ideal citizens. It is a challenging responsibility for education to train children to live as a conscious and responsible citizen. Education for good citizenship is a whole concept that comprises a host of personal and social qualities to be developed by education.

Therefore, education should make people socially conscious of their rights and duties towards the state. It should make them loyal, faithful, and disciplined to the accepted social rules and laws. Educated individuals should have a sense of understanding and love of the cultural achievements of society. Education should remove the sense of ignorance and superstition from the mind and develop in them the capacity for clear thinking and receptivity to new thoughts and ideas. It should modernize their outlook and attitude of changes for the better. Desirable social senses of tolerance fellow-feeling and respect for others should guide their thought, feeling, and activity. Also, education should make people aware of social needs, problems, and prospects and to make appropriate reactions to them. It should develop a sense of national integration and international understanding of the problems.

From the above list of qualities for good citizenship, it is evident that this aim of education seeks to develop all the virtues needs for a man’s ideal personality. They are the combination of the civic virtues and personal virtues in man that need to be developed on every citizen through education. This aim seems to be generally acceptable in an uncritical sense.

  1. Knowledge Aims of Education

The Idealistic philosophers maintain that knowledge or education is meant for our spiritual living. Knowledge is viewed as a divine light or power that may remove all the darkness of ignorance, earthly miseries, sorrows, and suffering of human life.

The highest knowledge was the realization of the divine power of God that led to the emancipation of man from all the earthly worries and suffering of life. So, the divine light of knowledge should be the aim of all education.

Criticism of Knowledge Aim

This aim is subjected to criticism from the point of view of pragmatic philosophy. It maintains that knowledge is not something heavenly or spiritual but earthly and useful that serves the immediate needs of man’s life. A more practical and realistic view is that knowledge is the means and not the end or aim of our life.

  1. Harmonious Development Aim

This aim of education believes in the development of all our psychophysical and moral qualities and abilities in a balanced and harmonious way. Child by birth inherits the faculties of body, mind, and soul to be developed harmoniously and in an integrated way. Therefore, education should establish harmony between these areas of development for the emergence of an ideal personality. Also, it is the roles and responsibilities of the school principal to ensures the harmonious development of students

Present education makes a lopsided development in the child. It makes him a giant intellectually, but remain poor and weak morally and physically. Such imbalanced and lopsided development may result in mal-adjustment of personality. So, education should bring about harmony in all aspects of child growth and development.

Criticism of Harmonious Development Aim

As a criticism, it may be said that harmonious development is an ideal rather than a really attainable aim in education. It is not possible to develop all powers and abilities of an individual equally. There is an established fact of individual differences in education. Again, the idea of harmonious development is likely to make one ‘Jack of all trades but master of none’. The present world of reality needs a man to be specialized in one field rather than acquiring a generalized type of education and instructions.

  1. Education for Character

All the great thinkers and educators generally agree that education aims at the formation of character. Education finds its real meaning and value when it aims at the formation of character. Character is the basis of which the superstructure of personality is made. Man is an animal with all the native instinctive tendencies, and impulses in behavior. Such behaviors are crude, brutish, passionate, and biological need-based. They need to be controlled, refined, and sublimated towards a socially acceptable and culturally desirable way. Such modification, training, and refinement of crude behavior may result in the formation of character. Therefore, character formation is an act of training in desirable traits of behavior and eliminating the undesirable one.

This is a major aim and purpose of education for all time. Swami Vivekananda had aptly remarked, “If you have assimilated line ideas and made them the basis of your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library.”

  1. Education for Leisure

With the development of modern science and technology, a need-based educational aim called education for leisure has gained more fame at present. Extensive uses of modern technology in our farms, factories, and industries have reduced manual labor to its minimum. A modern man has been made largely off-hand and remains idle by the technological civilization today. It has created a big problem of leisure. Having nothing to do has led to the development of destructive tendencies like idle gossiping, scandal-mongering, drug addiction, and crime in our youths. The idle mind naturally turns to be a devil’s workshop, causing a big problem for our individual and social life.

It is in this context that modern education needs to aim to attain children in the healthy and effective use of leisure. Education for leisure may make our life rich, resourceful, and dynamic. Also, it provides for good mental health and hygiene to make one psycho-physical alive and active. It may develop the finer senses of art and aesthetics and give way to creative self-expression of the native talents. This education may make one socially useful and economically productive member. It can relieve man of a sheer mechanized way of life and develop a sense of culture and creativity. Education for leisure is, therefore, the need-based aim of modern man.

  1. Democratic Aims of Education

The term ‘democracy’ is popularly used to mean a political ideology and a form of government of the people. But to understand the gravity of the term in the modem context, it is something more than that. It is in fact a way of living or a lifestyle of the modern man, based on the cherished ideals of equality, fraternity, freedom, and social justice.

These ideals of democracy cannot be attained by mere agglomeration of people or collection into a mass. It cannot be established through inactive and passive existence as members or citizens of the country. Also, it cannot be thrust upon people arbitrarily. It depends upon the common will and urge of the people to live with democratic ideals. There needs groundwork to be prepared in society to work out for democracy. Here comes the need and role of education. We need to have the educational aims and objectives based on democratic principles and the way of life.

Without further elaboration of the concept, the major principles, ideals, or aims that should guide education for democracy may be outlined below.

  • Citizenship training

Successful working of democracy basically depends on training people for good qualities or ideals of citizenship. All the desirable qualities of personality for democracy should be identified and provided for their training in school should be made. Those traits of good citizenship include the sense of fellow feeling, tolerance, self-control, helpfulness, discipline, and also a host of some other personal virtues.

  • Civic responsibilities

Democracy provides certain civic rights and privileges to people. The right to freedom of speech and writing is more vital. At the same time, it urges them to perform certain duties and responsibilities towards the people in society. Democratic education should aim at training the young children in using those rights and duties quite willfully.

  • Education for equality

Democratic education should aim at the removal of bias and inequality from the mind of the people. Everybody should get an equal educational and economic opportunity for development. More attention should be given to the needy and weaker section of the society which includes women, children’s, scheduled caste and tribe, physically and also the mentally handicapped, and the poor illiterate adults.

  • National discipline

In a democracy, the youths must be trained in the development of a sense of loyalty and subordination to the national rules and laws. They should abide by those rules and laws that are socially desirable and acceptable. Also, they should try to uphold the democratic values and principles enshrined in the constitution with the sense of national discipline.

  • Education for leadership

In a democracy, everybody has the right to become a leader, but everybody does not have the essential quality to become a leader. So, education should train in the development of the desirable qualities of leadership. The youths must give effective leadership in literary, cultural, scientific, technological, industrial, and in some other fields including the field of politics.

  • Individual freedom

Education in a democracy must uphold freedom of thought, feeling, activity, and behavior of an individual. The state or government must not invade the right to freedom of thought and action of an individual. More particularly the people of intellectual and creative potential must have such freedom for making an original contribution in their respective fields.

  • Development of ideal manhood

Democratic education should aim at fuller development of an individual’s own identity. It should help in making self-realization through self-expression in society. Education should bring about the harmonious development of physical, mental, and temperamental qualities of the individual for social progress. Further, the essence of democracy lies in the creation of ideal men and women in society.

Can there be a Universal Aim of Education?

Question is naturally raised as to whether there can be only one aim of education acceptable to all people for all time. As an answer to this question, we can say that there can be no universal aim of education possible to emerge. There are certain psycho-social factors affecting the educational aims that need to be considered. They are as under:

  1. There is individual difference in ability, aptitude, needs, and prospects for which educational aims are to be determined accordingly.
  2. Ideological differences exist with respect to man’s life and its work. It builds up different philosophies of life and the aim of education is to be adopted accordingly.
  3. The socio-economic situation of a country urges people to emerge educational aims differently to solve their problems. Educational aims are socio-economically need-based.
  4. Political ideology adopted by the government and the principle of people’s administration worked out may give their setting of the educational aim. The state is to determine the aim of education accordingly.
  5. Further, man’s world of thought and action is greatly influenced by the geographical and topographical situation in which we live and develop. Such a situation can create, sustain, and direct man’s way of life and vocation quite differently.
  6. Time is a powerful factor in bringing about changes in educational aim. With the changes in time human values, outlook and need use to change that give effect to changing educational aim.

The above points are the determining factors of the educational aims. Thus, it is obvious that there can be no universally acceptable aim in education. Man’s world of thought and action cannot be guided in the same direction towards a single aim.

As a result of the above points, many educationist have advocated various types of education for the overall development of an individual.


The concepts of aim in education are not static but dynamic in nature. Changes in time and situation bring about changes in human knowledge, experience, needs, values, and attitudes. New values and attitudes emerge as a consequence, based on a new philosophy of life. They should, therefore, be viewed as the dynamic and progressive concepts in the continuous process of human development.


Higher Secondary Education for HS 1st Year

By: Jatin Borua

Note: There are some changes in the Length and Text of the Article.

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