“Only the Educated Are Free” … Epictetus

By Jerry Olasakinju. Jerry, 37, lives in Fukuoka, Japan and is an ESL Instructor. Please leave your thoughts and comments below.

There is no better way to express how strongly I feel about education than showing it in a poem I composed below.

Give me Education, Give me Life


                    You’re a life-giver, the separator of the living dead from

                    From those who are wide awake in your bright glory of enlightenment.

                    You shove the fools to the corners where men of understanding

                    Gather in the darkened rooms debating the rudiments of creation.

It is almost impossible for an uneducated person to attain his or her desired position in the global community. Whenever I mention education in this article, I am only referring to academic education, not religious, moral or cultural education that anyone could obtain without much ado. It is true to state that a perfectly molded person needs all these other forms of education, but the position of academic education superimposes them all.

With academic education, you have been given a KEY to a life of achievements, successes and personal fulfillment. Incidentally, you will be free from bondage, poverty and a life of disaffection that ignorance often causes. You would look at anyone with God-given pride and be confident enough to offer your contributions to whatever issue people are discussing around you.

There is no better way to describe the potency of education than using this interesting illustration:  I am a resident in Japan, and I have watched with intense surprise how life has dealt differently with two close friends based on their levels of education. The two gentlemen are British nationals who both immigrated to Japan in the late 90s. Mr. A has only graduated from secondary school and chose not to go to the university; but Mr. B has a Master’s degree.

They both decided to enter into the educational industry in Japan. While Mr. A slugged from one English Language school to another, Mr. B obtained tenure at a Japanese private university. Mr. B’s monthly salary could afford him his desired pleasures, lifestyle and needs while Mr. A laboured with a meager salary that was barely enough for his personal upkeep!

The illustration above is common everywhere and the only reason for the discrepancy in people’s lifestyles is EDUCATION. I can’t agree more with Epictetus that a person who has been lucky to be educated will experience freedom in his or her life. Come to think of it: several opportunities are closing in many countries based on the prerequisite for enjoying those opportunities. It is a fact that no country will like to have an illiterate as its president anymore in this modern age, and many professions would be adjudged excellent if the practitioners possess basic academic education. For goodness sake, what separates a quack from a professional? What makes someone qualified for a post and technically knocks out the other? Education! The list will be endless if I should give examples of achievements that are strictly bound to people’s level of education.

In conclusion, to be alive without education, as my poem states above, is similar to being a living dead in a fast changing world!

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