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The importance of education depends on the person being educated. It's not really possible to make overarching statements about what is good for everyone because people's lives and interests vary.
The reasoning behind public, taxpayer supported education is twofold. First, in democratic countries, everyone votes, and the better-informed people are, the more likely they are to make good choices and not be swayed by demagoguery.
In terms of my students, I think that better education in logic and better research skills would make them less like to fall victim to fads and frauds. People who don't know how to do research are the ones most likely to be conned by such things as the anti-vaccination movement and various health frauds, pyramid schemes, and other really bad consumer choices.
Beyond that, it strikes me that different students have varying educational needs. Students who are uncomfortable with complex, abstract reasoning but skilled at working with their hands may be better off in an apprenticeship or trade school than university, while students who love reading or doing laboratory research do well in a university environment.
What I don't think works well is having students taking courses in which they are not genuinely motivated to learn (not just show up for the grades and credit hours). There is a major difference between education and credentials. The part of education that matters is what students actually learn in depth out of their own desire for knowledge -- that is what the students will build on in their lives and careers. A student who loves cars and spends every moment of spare time learning to fix them has obtained a real education. A student who sits in a university classroom text messaging and looking at cat videos may get a credential but not an education.
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