Globalization and recent shifts in educational policy in the Asia Pacific: An overview of some critical issues

Globalization and recent shifts in educational policy in the Asia Pacific: An overview of some critical issues
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   1   Globalization and Recent Shifts in Educational Policy in the Asia Pacific:An Overview of Some Critical IssuesFazal Rizvi, Laura Engel, Amar Nandyala, David Rutkowski and Jason SparksDepartment of Educational Policy StudiesUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign USAPrepared for UNESCO Asia Pacific Regional Bureau for EducationBangkok, ThailandAugust 2005   2AbstractThe report discusses some of the ways in which a particular discourse of globalization isreshaping the discursive terrain within which educational policy is developed, articulated andenacted in the countries of the Asia Pacific. We explore various global policy priorities takeninto account at the national level that suggest an underlying tension between two contrastingpurposes of education: social efficiency and democratic equality. While the issues explored inthe paper are not exhaustive of the ways in which globalization is re-casting the educationalpolicy terrain, they do indicate major shifts that all countries of the Asia Pacific areexperiencing, and are having to negotiate. We argue that central to these negotiations must bethe need to find a better balance between various competing purposes of education, mostnotably, between a largely economic emphasis on social efficiency and a more cultural focuson democratic equality.   3 Contents 1.   Introduction2.   The Asia Pacific3.   Interpreting Globalization4.   Global Drivers of Educational Change5.   Shifting Purposes of Education6.   Tensions of Centralization and Decentralization7.   Public and Private Funding of Education8.   Issues of Access and Equity9.   Education of Girls10.   Shifts in Curriculum Policy: Issues of Technology and the Digital Divide11.   Shifts in Curriculum Policy: The Rise and Rise of English12.   Internationalization and the Global Trade in Higher Education13.   ConclusionAppendix 1: Data by country in the Asia PacificAppendix 2: Examples of International Treaties in EducationEndnotes   41. Introduction Over the past two decades, educational systems throughout the Asia Pacific have undergonesignificant changes. There is no indication moreover that programs of reform and restructuringhave been concluded, as systems continue to struggle, in their various ways, to interpret andrespond to the ever changing economic, social and political contexts within which educationtakes place. In countries as culturally and politically diverse as India, the Philippines and NewZealand, teachers and educational administrators continue to experience a sense of crisis. Theywork in systems in which not only have the structures of educational governance beenreshaped but in which the very purposes of education are being re-thought.The relentless pressure on educational systems to change has come from students, parents andemployers alike. There has been a rapid growth in demand for access to education, butgovernments have neither been able nor willing to meet the costs of expansion. Changing class,gender and ethnic composition of students has created new pressures for changes in curriculumand pedagogy. As educational systems have become larger and more complex, newrequirements of policy and governance have emerged. Parents, governments and employersalike have demanded greater accountability. Educational systems have been asked to produce aworkforce adequately prepared to meet the challenges of globalization and the globaleconomy.Within the Asia Pacific, as elsewhere, the concept of globalization has been used widely inrecent years to understand the imperatives driving educational change, even if it remainspoorly understood and highly contested. Discussions of globalization are characterized byconsiderable conceptual confusion; they are often rhetorically hyperbolic, empiricallyinconsistent and normatively shallow. Yet, while little consensus exists about its meaning, theconcept of globalization does appear to name some of the profound social changes that arecurrently taking place around the world. Many of these changes have been driven by recentdevelopments in information and communication technologies, which have resulted in a worldthat is more interconnected and interdependent than ever before.There is now greater mobility of capital, information and ideologies, and of people. This hastransformed the nature of economic activity, creating new forms of global markets, globalcompetition and global management. The global economy is characterized as informational,knowledge-based, post-industrial and service-orientated. It has created the need for new ‘post-Fordist’ regimes of labor management--and a new kind of worker that education must nowproduce. 1 At the same time, globalization has been associated with major changes in thepolitical authority of the nation-state. Globalization has undermined, in significant ways, theautonomy of the state, as governance has become more multi-lateral, with internationalorganizations (IGOs) playing a more important role in guiding nation-states towards policypreferences articulated by the IGOs. And finally, globalization has created conditions for a newcultural politics, with global pressures towards both cultural homogeneity and heterogeneity.These changes have led to increasing levels of cultural interaction, and have also created inpeople a profound awareness about the commonality of problems facing all of the world’sinhabitants. At the same time, globalization has become an ideology with a range of powerfulglobal interests becoming dominant, promoting a particular neo-liberal view of economicactivity and of the relationship between the individual and the state.Educational policies have been deeply affected by these developments, as nationalgovernments have sought to re-align their educational priorities to what they perceive to be the
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