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I would have to agree with the other posts, education goes back to the beginning of civilization. Whether it was formal education or not there was still teaching and learning taking place.
Your post needs a little clarification...do you mean altogether, on a particular continent, as an organized institution? Frankly, you could argue that education begins the day a child is born. Learning never ceases from that moment, and children are sponges. However, over the course of centuries, education as a formal institution and a ideology have morphed many times over. Check out the wikipedia article for a good jumping-off place... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_education.
Higher levels of learning (institutions such as colleges and universities) began in Greece around the 6th century BC. They concentrated primarily on medicine but studied other topics as well, such as the universe and humanity.
The Pythagoreans, followers of the mathematician Pythagoras, began schools of higher learning in Italy and focused primarily on math and philosophy. They also taught in the Greek language. Famous and renowned philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle kept this tradition going.
Many different forms of education have been around for thousands of years.
Education started with the start of civilization or even earlier. Even animals educate their young ones. Like a lioness may teach its cubs to hunt. But for human beings it has been one of the primary contributors of march of civilization. Without the education event the most primitive inventions would not have been passed on by people to their subsequent generations and the humans would have remained as uncivilized as the most uncivilized animal. In that case, as the saying goes, we all would have been forced to reinvent the wheel. And the person who first invented the wheel must have been one of the greatest genius and one of the greatest contributor to technology. Without education the simple technology of a wheel also would have died a natural death in the cradle where it took birth and we all would perhaps be worse than the hunter gatherers that humans were more than 50,000 years back.
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