The first, very probably, was DEFENCE - but not from Russia or China!
Children in early Victorian slums, either homeless orphans or from penniless families, would roam the streets, stealing food from market stalls, and playing tricks like throwing stones at horses hooves to make them bolt so the carriage would overturn and miladys jewels would be spread over the cobbles - free for the taking. Fanciful perhaps, but maybe not so far out! The solution: schools more as a matter of public order than education.
Other schools were established as a CHARITY, perhaps by the Church, or some other welfare organization.
Children, again homeless or from poor families, would be taught right from wrong, Biblical studies, and perhaps the three Rs: Reading, Righting, and Rithmatic.
Gradually, as the 1800s wore on, social CONSCIENCE began to influence Members of Parliament, and various Acts wer passed placing responsibility for Education in the hands of Local Authorities, this combined with a series of Factory Acts limiting the exploitation of child labour.
That was the 1800s. Has that approach changed today? Broadly speaking, not much.
Those who can afford it send their offspring to Good Schools, thence to University. And lets face it, these are the future Leaders, the Captains of Industry, Diplomats and Great Thinkers. As for the rest, well if youre willing to put yourself in financial hock for the rest of your life, great.
Otherwise, apart from a minority of motivated teachers and experimental schools, were back to the Three Rs in keep-them-off-the-streets State schools. And lets face it, theres plenty of dull repetitive work for the dull repetitive multitudes.
This approach is both a fallacy and a waste of potential talent.
A child is like a plant; it needs cultivation. A growing child needs mind-stretching challenge, awareness that education today is your wealth of tomorrow. And We the People need to wake up to the fact that if we want the wealth and prosperity that skills and talent and invention can bring to our lives and our country, we must uncover and cultivate now the talents which will create them, wherever those talents may lie.
We need to finance education, and the development of those prosperity-creating skills, not as a charity, but as an investment, an assurance of our future and continuing prosperity. And Education must, somehow, be made fully inclusive. Well never know what talents lurk among the multitudes unless we unearth and cultivate them.
Lets face it, we need all the talent we can get. And the other side of the coin: we cant afford to pay people for doing nothing.
Education is an INVESTMENT a country makes in its future. Without it, we will never know what could have been...
You might like to check Education in Singapore