Monday, March 5, 2012

Globalisation And Education

With the advent of new technology, the world is becoming a global village. Access to any part of the globe is becoming easier. While this can be a good thing for many countries, it may also be a threat to others.

Globalisation is the fact that different cultures and economic systems around the world are becoming connected and similar to each other because of the influence of large multinational companies and of improved communication. Globalisation is thus the result of both increased cross border transactions and improvement in technology. Globalisation, therefore, implies that all countries of the world have become close to each other and have become interdependent – what happens in a country affects the other countries. The world is now known to have become a global village where there is free trade, capital mobility and uncontrolled migration. It has now become possible that people in different parts of the world, at the same specific time, are sleeping in the same chain of hotels, are eating the same pizza, are buying the same jeans, are customers of the same chain of supermarkets or are having a group discussion live over the internet.

Globalisation is both an opportunity and a threat to the attainment of the democratic ideal in education for any developing and underdeveloped countries.

Globalisation implies that developing and underdeveloped countries are competing with the whole world for their products. World class quality products have to be produced so as to consolidate and improve their competitive edge vis-a-via developed countries, including emerging giants like China and India. This further implies that the quality of higher skilled labour is required. Workers are even required to be flexible since jobs tend to be multitasked. Therefore, this leads to a pressurised increase in the budget of the education sector. Investments are made on infrastructures to make education, especially higher education more accessible.

Globalisation has also democratised access to information and education. Learners from any part of the world are now able to access loads of information on the internet at only a few clicks. It is now possible to share information on common platforms with other citizens of the world. Distance education, especially for higher education, has become not only possible but also gives an opportunity to people to learn at their own convenience. It is no longer necessary to be physically present in the classroom at specified time. The learner is now able to learn by experimenting virtually and not by memorising facts in a teacher dominated class.

Therefore, knowledge acquired is not limited by the local curriculum and the learner has the freedom to choose the desired type of education.

In addition and as a consequence, providers of education are forced to review their programs so as to match the changing trend in the world affairs and therefore allow learners to develop new skills. This includes a wider variety of subjects.

However, globalisation has not only changed the methods of education but also the aim of education.
With globalisation, the importance of the individual is threatened. He is no longer the centre of interest. The individual is no longer educated for the sake of being an educated person but rather for the sake of satisfying the demand for labour in the labour market. Courses designed more to satisfy the criteria of labour required by multinationals and instructions are more and more examination geared. The need of the system is favoured at the cost of the need of the student. Most institutions are affiliated to universities abroad and therefore provide a centralised curriculum. There is less and less emphasis on values and culture of the community in which the learner lives. This, therefore, results in the individual to gradually lose his identity and that despite more subjects are available.

Furthermore, the individual is being treated more as a consumer and education more as a commodity. In the process of marketing education, people are made to believe that a degree is vital to secure a job. Moreover, privatisation of education leading to fierce competition in the sector threatens the standard of education provided. Students expect to leave an institution with a certificate and so as to attract more customers, the pass rate may in some cases be manipulated by making more pupils to pass by reducing the standard of exams or by lowering grade thresholds.

Globalisation also implies free movement of labour around the world. So, this implies a growing diversity of pupils which certainly do complicate the work of educators. The latter may find it simpler to adopt a centralised curriculum which may result in the alienation of learners from their own community, as explained earlier.

Democracy And Education

Democracy and Education from a Deweyan and Freirean perspective.

There is no universally acceptable definition of democracy. Yet, the principles of all definitions include equality and freedom. That is, in a democracy all citizens are equal before law, have equal access to power and freedom which are protected by a constitution.
The free encyclopedia on the internet Wikipedia defines democracy as follows:

Democracy is a political government carried out either directly by the people (direct democracy) or by means of elected representatives of the people (Representative democracy).(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy)

Both John Dewey and Paolo Freire, two renowned educationists, described democracy both as aim and as a method of education.

John Dewey believed democracy is achieved through education. He considers democracy as a responsibility which is better shouldered by educated people. Educated people are more likely to make the right choice for the reinforcement of democracy.Besides, he said the following in his book “Democracy and Education”:
The superficial explanation is that a government resting upon popular suffrage cannot be successful unless those who elect and who obey their governors are educated. Since a democratic society repudiates the principle of external authority, it must find a substitute in voluntary disposition and interest; these can be created only by education (Dewey, John. (1916). Democracy and education. New York: Macmillan, pg 91)
Furthermore, Dewey considered every individual equally important to society therefore should be given equal opportunity to education. This, however, is achieved not by delivering traditionally the same knowledge to everyone but rather by infusing direct experience of the learner with his learning environment and content. This implies that experiences of different groups of learners would be different. Hence, the method of education is differentiated and adapted to the experience and environment of the learner. This further implies that the teacher needs to have a prior understanding of the learner’s experience and environment. This method is known as the learner-centred approach.
Paolo Freire, too believed that education aims at transforming and liberating the society, therefore education aims at attaining democracy.
Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion. (Freire, Paulo. (1968). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 2007, Page 47)
Freire joined the same line of thought of Dewey in the sense that he believed to attain the ideal democracy, methods of education should be democratic. Freire believed that the curriculum being taught to the poor embedded hidden messages that would rather reinforce poverty among the poor. Therefore, he rejected the banking concept where knowledge is deposited in the minds of the learners. Instead, he believed in a dialogical approach of learning which is characterised by a mutual acceptance of the interchangeability of the roles of teacher and learner which, therefore, relies on trust. Freire suggested that the teacher, though not being on the same footing as the learner, should be humble enough to relearn what he is supposed to know already by interacting with the learner. This helps the learner develop a critical consciousness which allow him to understand the world in which he is living and to understand the various social and political contradictions so that he can take actions against oppressions and achieve true liberation.
Though they may have different approach to the method of education, both Dewey and Freire considered that the role of the teacher is not to impose knowledge. Instead, the teacher must be willing to relearn what he believes he knows already, to have an understanding of the environment of the learners and to adapt his teaching to the experience and environment of the learner so as to make them good citizens who can contribute to the development of his society, in other words to attain the ideal democracy.