Why self-education is as important as formal education

Schools should create time in their teaching schedule by dedicating one lesson for their students to read on their own. Net photo.

American writer and professor, Isaac Asimov, put it this way: “Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is. The only function of a school is to make self-education easier; failing that, it does nothing.”

The importance of education has always been stressed; however, alternative forms of education like self-education and their significance have rarely been discussed.

Self-education means different things to different people. Educationists define it as the pursuit of knowledge and learning in areas and subjects of one’s choosing, and at one’s leisure. It also means the pursuit of constructive and intellectually stimulating and strengthening endeavours.

For years, there have been debates on the kind of education provided by schools in regards to the skills demanded by the job market.

The Human Development Index figure from United Nations Development Program shows that Rwanda is classified under low development with an index standing at 0.483. This means that there is a lot to be done in the field of skills development and employability of the country’s labour force in the global job market.

With these figures, it is evident that schools need to create an environment that favours not only formal education but also self-education.

Why self-education?

Umar Luzinda, a university lecturer, says self-education is very different from formal education.  He explains formal education provides basic fundamentals of entering the workforce but for one to sustain presence and even excel within the same workforce, one must rely on self-education.

Ronald Gakuba, a computer programmer, could not agree more. He says self-education is vital for personal skills development adding that if one is to excel and have a meaningful life before and after school, they should embrace this form of education.

“Self-education is so important that it creates space for a wide learning cover which you may not find during lectures, besides, not everything that is taught can be helpful to you, so you can only understand the scope of the subject if you read it for yourself and apply it,” he says.

Emmanuel Shakuru, a professional accountant, says self-education is very important but for one to get the best out of it, he or she has to be hungry enough to learn and have a good reading culture—

Pacific Kamugisha, a University student in information technology, says self-education is the reality of today’s society, especially if someone wants to stand out when it comes to the job market.

“With self-education, one is provided with a platform for self-discovery other than solely depending on the curriculum and the limited time schedules for the lectures.”

Schools should play their role

Enos Tumwikirize, a teacher at Kigali Parents School, notes that at all levels, schools have a lot to do in enabling students to become the best, and there is no short cut for that.

He notes that schools should create time in their teaching schedule by dedicating one lesson for their students to self-reading.

“But also students have to be guided by providing them with supervisory questions and research work so that they can have a line of focus,” he adds.

According to John Bosco Otim, a teacher at Nu Vision High School, schools should not only construct libraries or computer laboratories but instead, avail them when they are fully functional.

He also says that schools should, through teachers, always give extra work to students for self-study.

Otim also notes that other co-curricular activities like debating can play a big role for students to be self-driven in conducting their own research, which is of importance for personal skills development, interpersonal relationships and critical thinking.