Education is seen as a means of cultural transmission from one generation to another in any given society. Society is defined as the whole range of social relationships of people living in a certain geographic territory and having a sense of belonging to the same group. Education as a social phenomenon does not take place in a vacuum or isolation. It takes place in the society and this normally begins from the family, which is one of the social institutions responsible for the education of the child. In every society, whether developing or developed, complex or primitive, there is always an education system.
The role of society towards education depends on the society. In modern society, the traditional view is that government has a primary role in providing for mandatory compulsory education for all students for 13 years and free and appropriate education for at least 13 years for students with qualifying disabilities. Society is supposed to invest in the education of our children to stimulate a successful economy and society in the future, instead of taxing unborn generations and reducing their potential for freedom of choice when they become adult citizens.
Education as a social phenomenon is also concerned with the preparation of the child for his future occupation in life. This is one of the main economic functions of education and this is in the interest of both the nation and the individual. Through education an individual knows the structure of the society and the different types of relationships that exist among those structures in the society. Another aspect of the relationship between education and society is in the area of social interaction.
Social interaction may be defined as any relation between people and groups, which changes the behavior of the people in the group. There is a need for social interaction by the child before he could acquire the culture of his society. This interaction in the society is therefore part of the child’s education, provided that, the type of interaction brings about positive changes in the child’s behavior in a right direction as required by the educational system. One important point here is that the child has been taking part in group interaction long before he starts to attend school.
These groups in which the child interacts give him the opportunity to learn from the wider circles in the society. From his social contacts, he learns his roles in different groups and this influences his personality development. So, education is a means through which the cultural values of a particular society are transmitted from one generation to another. Through this process, the society is able to achieve basic social conformity and ensure that its traditional values, beliefs, attitudes and aspirations are maintained and preserved.