When talking about education, one immediately thinks of institutions: kindergarten, school, college or university. But who is supposed to provide it? Is it the nannies in the kindergarten, the school teachers or the lecturers at the colleges and universities? Yes. And no!

Education is more than lessons in a classroom. It is a process that evolves through acts that define how one thinks, feels or acts. It occurs at any time, at any place in society. And anyone can be an educator.

Naturally, children learn from the people closest to them: their parents, siblings and family. In the formative years, if a child does not hear “please” and “thank you” and is not surrounded by values of respect, decency and tolerance, he or she will hardly develop these habits later in life.

Even the most expensive courses on protocol and etiquette cannot bridge the gap later on. Ask yourself: with whom are your children spending most of their time with? What is the behaviour being displayed in the house?

The first and most influential educators are parents. Cultural education and the formation of solid values are the part of a child’s education that is their responsibility. Educational institutions can and should assist with guiding a child’s conduct, in line with the parents’ view.

The mission of schools and universities is the development of academic knowledge. It is not your child’s teacher, who is responsible for your child’s upbringing. It is you, Mum and Dad.

The Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said: “Take care. Each of you is a shepherd and each of you shall be asked concerning his flock; a leader is a shepherd of his people, and he shall be asked concerning his flock; and a man is a shepherd of the people of his house, and he shall be asked concerning his flock; and a woman is a shepherd of the house of her husband and over their children, and she shall be asked concerning them.”

Children refer to their own parents for guidance. Their acts say more than a thousand words, and no matter how often you say: “Do what I say”, your children are more likely to do what you do!

If Dad says a thousand times: “Seat belts are important”, as he is reading BlackBerry messages while driving, unbuckled, at 150kph down the emergency lane, chances are that Junior will think this is ‘OK’. No school teacher or public campaign will convince him otherwise. Junior might write the expected answers in a test - for the sake of it - but he will still be convinced that it is ‘OK’ because Dad does it! Hence, classrooms are not the only source of lessons that define a person.

n    The write is a freelance columnist. This article has been reproduced from the UAE-based newspaper, TheNational.