Education is the process of formal instruction, chiefly of children. In almost every country there exist schools to educate children and teenagers, and colleges and universities to provide more advanced education.
In ancient times, few people were educated academically - usually only the wealthy, who could afford the time to attend schools instead of having to work, would study such subjects as reading and writing, mathematics and philosophy. Indeed, the English word for 'school' comes from an ancient Greek word meaning 'leisure' for this reason. Less wealthy people might be educated at home or through an apprenticeship, but this was markedly different from formal schooling and tended to cover only the practical skills needed for a life of labour.
As civilisation has advanced, education has come to be seen as a universal right for all; in western countries in particular, every member of the population is expected to be literate and school attendance is generally compulsory for children. The United Nations has enshrined every child's right to education as Article 28 of its Convention on the Rights of the Child, although in practice not all children yet receive the education to which they are entitled.
See also Education in the United States.