STUDY after study shows that one of the most powerful tools for economic development – on both an individual level and on a societal level – is education.

To take advantage of this, we must start to understand that education takes many forms.

Of course, there is still a place for the classroom with the teacher at the front, informing students and asking questions.

After all, this is the format that has endured for hundreds of years, and I don’t think that the concept will be going anywhere anytime soon.

Primary and secondary schools will remain the bedrocks of our national educational system.

But after school, education has to take on a slightly different form. When we leave school we start to ask important questions such as – what is it I want to achieve for the rest of my life? And what areas do I think I can make a positive contribution in?

I am pleased that these days there are options beyond a university course – with college, apprenticeships, and on-the-job qualifications all supported routes to gain credentials.

This diversity of routes is important, as everybody has different ways of learning – and some things that need to be taught are better done in different environments.

Theoretical topics and concepts are often best discussed in a lecture or seminar, but the learning of physical techniques and processes requires hands-on experience.

This includes in advanced studies such as engineering and medicine.

The development of a nation is tied to the development of education. This makes sense if you think about it. Education means that tasks can be completed more efficiently, that knowledge can be transferred more effectively, and that creativity can be explored more successfully.

As world poverty has fallen, education has increased. But we should never take our educational systems for granted – and there are parts of the world where education remains a challenge.

Even where there are educational institutions established, attendance can be a problem. In poorer countries this becomes a chicken and egg situation where poverty leads to a difficulty in school attendance, and lack of schooling contributes to continuing poverty.

Of course, this can often especially affect girls in these countries.

As a country, it remains important that we always prioritise education. We may all have different memories of our school days – with some of us enjoying the time more than others – but as we grow older, I think we all appreciate the learning we undertake throughout life, however and wherever that education took place.

[Good luck to Carlisle United this Sunday – and all the best to the travelling Cumbrian fans heading down, who I am sure will make their voices heard loud and clear at Wembley!]