As an instrument of societal regeneration, educationshapes thosesocial realitieswhich make our everyday lives.Our collectivesocial and economic life today owes its origin to the choices and policy decisions which someonemade for present generation in the past. In the same way decisions and policies which policy makers make today in the sphere of education will structure our life experiences tomorrow.As the children cannot exercise agency as adults, so it becomes a sacred trust on the part of policy actors who exercise agency on behalf of the citizens of tomorrow. Life is a composite of social and market related roles and experiences. A society devoid of solidarity and empathy will not be worth living despite all material progress. Education of the young ones must exhibit a fine balance.If this balance is lost,society suffers. During the recent decades,under subtle yet profound influence ofneoliberal thought, education has been denuded of those values which otherwise mould individuals asmembers of a social world. In such a neoliberal world, market has become the place in which humans live, interact, produce and exchange. Such a world values competition, efficiency and productivity as its new code of ethics. In the words of David Harvey, neoliberalism as a conceptual apparatus has become so embedded in common sense that now it is taken for granted. Consequently, whether it isstate provided education as apublic good or private provision as a commodity, itnurtures a spirit ofcut throat competition and individualism. Promotion of virtues like cooperation, empathy, independent thinking and solidarityno more remains an intent of education.The influence of neoliberalism is so pervasive that the distinction between society and market has virtually ceased to exist – societyhas become synonymous with market and likewise human beings are valued as human capital. ‘My idea was that education should be part of life itself, and must not be detached from it’ – Tagore From perspective of education policy, the concern for economic growth and efficiency are important but it is no less important to understandthat this should not be at the expense of society. Economic performance of Nazi Germany and apartheid era South Africa was no less spectacular at a time when the respective societies suffered from the worst kind of social divisions and abuse. This simply tells that the quest for economic growth without promotion of values like empathy remains meaningless for quality of life. Market has an instrumental value for society; it should not be the singular sphere of mutual interaction among members of society. Humans are not only bound by market rationalitybut they are also friends, neighbours and citizens having emotions and feelings. Therefore,from the perspective of education policy, society must remain as the foremost focus of attention and themarket requirements should be viewed as an essentialbut a subsidiary component. This implies that education shouldprepare children for society by grounding them well in requisite social values in tandem with imparting the knowledge and skills valued in market. Education operates mainly through curriculum and assessment system. Like any dual-use technology, education can be put to diametrically opposed purposes likeeither to producethinking citizens or to manufacture conformist subjects. A meaningful life values empathy, cooperation, respect for human rights and solidaritywithout rejecting economic aspect of life. What this implies for policy consumption? A firm grounding in socially desirable traits in schools especially up to the elementary level can lay the foundations of a later transition into training for participation in the market.This necessitates commensurate changes in curriculum, training of teachers and assessment system. Curriculum needs to be critically evaluated and transformed to inculcate a spirit of cooperation, empathy, solidarity and critical thinking during school years. Academic assessment should also take this element into account. To nurture thinking and questioning minds, who can grow up as scholars, inventors and innovators, the assessment methodology should base on evaluating learning achievements rather than textbook reproduction. For the sake of society, market ethos of cut throat competition and sheer individualism must remain outside the boundaries of schools. That is why the system of assessment should not become a tool of ranking and segregating the children as winners and losers. In the UN SDGs agenda for 2030, Goal 4 (Target 4.7) offers an opportunity to align social concerns with education policy and plans. This particular target requires focus on inclusive education, global citizenship, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, appreciation of cultural diversity and sustainable development. This is really heartening that the UN has come up with such policy agenda for developing world which may help in mitigating the adverse impact of neoliberal policies supported by international financial institutions. Integration of these targets with education policy leading to actionable interventions in curriculum and assessment framework offers an entry point. This is a unique window of opportunity to make a course correction in our local educational landscape.In a nutshell, society and market can co-exist and thrive in a harmonious and complementary relationship if the balance is not unnecessarilytilted in favour of market.Education should be for life and life is not a profit-loss account. The writer is a development policy analyst. Published in Daily Times, March 1st 2019.