By Vyom Raisurana, AFS YES Alumni 2010-11 

Growing up I was always told that education is vital for existence and was often reminded of the famous Hindi saying- “Padhoge, likhoge… banoge nawab” (literally meaning- study and write then you will become a king; actual meaning- get degrees in order to get a decent life).

In today’s world, we all understand the importance and value of ‘education’; but do we really understand that what does getting “educated” actually mean?

  • Does getting a college masters degree mean we are educated?
  • Does getting a college undergraduate degree mean we are educated?
  • Or, does graduating high school means we are educated?

The truth to all these statements is that they are just relative; i.e. self-assessed personal understanding of what each of the statements means. provides two very interesting definitions of educationThe act or process of imparting or acquiring particular knowledge or skills, as for a profession.

Thus getting a diploma also in a particular field to get the requisite knowledge in his/her field would qualify as being educated.

The other definition of education is rather contrasting is unique–The act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.

I initially found it funny when went all philosophical on a definition; but, it made perfect sense!

For a person who lives in a rural area, getting educated might just mean graduating high school. Whereas for someone living in a metropolitan city, getting a masters degree or Ph.D. would account for being educated.

The fine line of differentiation lies in the fact that education is a process and not a step like getting a degree.

The UN Sustainable Development #4 advocates on promoting Quality Education globally by 2030. Former Secretary-General to the United Nations- Ban Ki-Moon said: Education must fully assume its central role in helping people to forge more just, peaceful and tolerant societies.

The Indian government has done a fair job in terms of making masses literate post-independence. However, it is not uncommon to hear from the youth that they prefer to go for higher education abroad than complete their undergraduate or post-graduate degree from India.

Access to quality education that helps provide a nurturing and flexible environment for students to stay in India to complete their learning process has grown majorly.

During AFS Orientation sharing the importance of AFS Educational Goals

Before anything else, let us first try to understand what Quality Education really means: Quality Education in simple terms would mean that people not just get information or knowledge about something, but develop rationale so as to reach their maximum productive citizens contributing to the growth and prosperity of the society.

Having worked with young students across the globe in the past decade, I personally felt that our education system does not nurture the power of questioning; questioning is more often than not interpreted as a challenge rather than a genuine interest to understand something.

Modern day technology and resources have enabled us to get instantaneous information about a topic; what millennials still lack is the knowledge, the experience, and the guidance to use the raw data and convert it into something meaningful.

I would like you to think in the following direction-

If you are an adult who has figured what makes them happy in life, it’s time to pass it on. Think of all the times when you were a younger student and went “I wish I had this guidance or opportunity…”.  As being citizens of what we call as a ‘global village’, it is our right to work towards the betterment of the global community.

  • if you are a senior chapter volunteer working with AFS, think about how you can mentor or guide a younger volunteer in your chapter or even in your society or community.
  • if you are a senior person who is not sure of the commitment of guiding a young student, invest in terms of providing financial support to someone who might need it. Examples could include- your maid’s son/daughter or a student who is studying at a school for the underprivileged near your neighborhood.

If you are a young student who is trying to find his/her place in the society and how you can contribute, find mutual self-help groups that would enable you to collectively collaborate and share ideas. If there isn’t one, create it!!! You are the change!

Governments globally are aggressively working towards fulfilling targets of the SDG’s that have been set in 2015. It is now time that individuals and organizations consciously target towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

India as a country has come far from what it was after the colonial period. Today, the country has the youngest working population in the world and together we can make the optimum use of the resource. If each individual pledges to take an oath towards contributing on the Sustainable Development Goals, by 2030 we will be able to achieve the targets that have been set!