In this section, we shall look at the two main functions of education identified in Unit One; namely cultural transmission and change through innovation. Morrish (1976), stated in this regard that the object of education in general is to provide young children with the means for understanding their society and its structures and institutions, as well as opening up opportunities for them to create “meaning” out of their environment and interpersonal relationships.
a) Cultural Transmission
It is generally agreed that schools help the family to pass on the national culture to children entrusted in their care from very early in life. This point is best exemplified by Nigeria’s attempt to use education as an instrument for inculcating national consciousness and national unity. The task of the Nigerian schools, particularly at the lower levels is to produce a good and united citizenry comprising people who think of themselves first as Nigerians before they think of themselves as belonging to any ethnic group or region.
b) Promoting Change
As mentioned in an earlier section, in addition to preserving the cultural heritage of society, education also serves an innovative function, which brings about desirable changes in society. This is achieved through the provision of knowledge and ideas to members of society. Schools produce highly educated and skilled individuals whose education and level of enlightenment enable them to initiate and pursue change through innovations and critical reflection on the old ways of society.
The society, which schools should reflect, is clearly not static. It changes. So in reflecting it, schools should participate in determining the direction of its change. The point here is that while the school is expected to accept the social forces that play upon it, it should nonetheless not be oblivious of them. At any given time in the community, one can see that, there is an apparent state of cultural confusion. In this regard, the school cannot just simply reflect and perpetuate such confusion. Rather, the school should actively participate in the process of shaping the culture by focusing on only those aspects of the culture that help to preserve and maintain its integrity and others that have the promise of improving it. The school leads and directs the culture and should be integrated with the social life of the people. It should change as well as reflect the community. In fact, the schools should take part in the determination of a future social order. The proper role of school is therefore, to select, organize, direct and structure these forces in the light of present social needs, local circumstances and future demands.