During the prehistoric stages, adults taught many youth’s and imparted their skills and wisdom to the next generation. In the days when there was no literacy the skills and knowledge was shared though verbal means and imitation. Tales were shared and passed on from generations. With cultural advancement the concept of knowledge began to expand beyond mastering skills. Thus there was a need to move beyond the means of imitation and this formed the basis of formal education. There is proof that schools were present in Egypt even during the Middle Kingdom.
Earlier there was no institution of higher learning in Europe until Plato laid the foundation of the Academy in Athens. The city of Alexandria situated in Egypt was founded in 330 BCE and this soon turned the successor to the Athens in terms of being the intellectual cradle of Ancient Greece. It was here that the great mathematician Euclid along with anatomist Herophilus built the great Library of Alexandria and they also translated the Bible which was earlier in Hebrew into Greek. After the fall of Rome in 476 AD, the European civilizations saw a rapid decline in the literacy rate and organization.
Confucius (551-479 BCE) from the State of Lu in China was considered to be one of the most influential philosopher. His wisdom and knowledge finds place in the modern societies of China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam as well. He used to have a group of disciples and was also in the lookout for a king or ruler that would be able to make use of his ideals in order to have good governance. However this vision of his remained unfulfilled. His Analects have been penned down by his disciples and they still have an impact on the East Asian education system.
After Rome was conquered, the Catholic Church emerged as the only preserver of literate scholarship in the Western Europe. The church then began to form cathedral schools during the early Middle Ages and these began to function as centers for imparting advance education. In fact, some of these centers later on progressed and transformed into medieval universities and these laid the foundation for several modern universities in and around Europe. In the High Middle Ages, Chartres Cathedral used to control the well known Chartres Cathedral School. Besides, the medieval universities of Western Christendom too were spread all over Western Europe. These motivated a sense of freedom of enquiry and they have contributed many excellent scholars as well as philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas from the University of Naples. Robert Grosseteste belonging to the University of Oxford too clearly explained the complex ideologies regarding a systematic means of scientific experimentation. Saint Albert the Great too has done exponential research in the field of biology. The University of Bologne is counted amongst one of the oldest universities which are still in operation.
Besides this Islamic science as well as mathematics too progressed in the Middle Ages in the Islamic states which were formed all throughout the Middle East spreading from the Iberian Peninsula in the west moving towards the Indus in the east and also spreading its wings in the Almoravid Dynasty & Mali Empire in the South.
The era of Renaissance in European nations welcomed a revolutionary age of scientific as well as intellectual questioning. It also turned the focus back on the ancient Greek as well as Roman civilizations. In the year 1450 the printing press was developed by Johannes Gutenberg and this facilitated the rapid spread of various forms of literature. In the European Age of Empires there was a rapid sharing of European ideologies, philosophy, fundamentals of religion, art forms and science throughout the world. Various missionaries and scholars shared new concepts and ideas which they had borrowed from other civilizations. Missions such as the Jesuit China were detrimental in transmitting and sharing knowledge, and getting better insights on various sciences and culture in China as well as Europe. They began by translating various European works such as the Euclid’s Elements and they shared them with the Chinese masses. The ideas of Confucius too were translated and shared with the Europeans. This sharing and the ensuing Enlightenment witnessed the formation of a better and secular educational approach in Europe.
In majority of the nations across the world, it is mandatory for kids to get education up to a specific age. This rise of mandatory education teamed with the increase in the population has made UNESCO calculate that in the coming three decades the number of people receiving formal education will be at highest as compared to any other time in human history till date.