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Globalization has brought about tremendous changes to every aspect of human life in the twenty-first century. Education, traditionally a local practice confined by geographical and political boundaries, has too been affected. This research paper reviews the emerging trends of globalization in education. Specifically, the research paper discusses the trends of global standardization of education, global enterprising of educational systems and institutions, global migration of students, and the need for global citizenship. The research paper concludes with discussions of the most challenging issues facing education in the age of globalization.
- Global Standardization
- The Emergence of Global Standards: The Case of PISA
- Global Standard for Economic Competitiveness
- Global Standard for Educational Quality
- Global Standardization of Educational Policy and Practices
- Global Spread of Local Standards and Programs
- International Baccalaureate
- Localization of International Schools
- The Irony of Global Standardization: East versus West
- Global Enterprising
- Enterprising Systems
- Enterprising Schools
- Joint Programs: Global Supply Chain
- Independent Campuses: Global Outposts
- Distance and Online: Virtual Campus
- Global Migration of Students
- Global Citizenship: Globalization’s Demand on Education
- Conclusions: Major Themes and Issues
- Homogenization and Diversification
- Educational Sovereignty
- Brain Drain, Brain Gain, and the Flight of Talents
- A Final Word
Humans have entered the age of globalization. Thanks to advances in communication and transportation technologies, the physical distance that used to separate human societies has been disappearing in recent decades. For some practical purposes, physical distance is dead, in that it no longer matters in terms of time and costs. As a result, the primary living space, that is, the space a human individual or society can act in and impact, has become global, no longer constrained by the physical location of their presence at the time (Zhao, 2009a). Information, people, and goods move as freely, fast, and frequently from one place to another on earth, as they used to in much smaller spaces such as a village or geographical region (Legrain, 2002; Giddens, 1991; Friedman, 2007; Stiglitz, 2006).
While there are different definitions of globalization, which as a concept has only begun to be written about explicitly over the past three decades, the gist is the process and result of worldwide economic, social, cultural, and political networks that could only exist in much smaller geographical spaces before. Globalization may not be new, according to some (Friedman, 2007). It has happened before but the scale of participation, the pace, the intensity, and frequency were much less in the 1600s than what we witness today. The nineteenth century steamboats undoubtedly shrunk the distance between Asia and Europe, but the efforts, time, and costs it took to get to Asia then were still prohibitive to most individuals, in comparison to today’s jet airplanes. The cultural and political ignorance then practically prohibited most people from equal participation in global commerce.
Today, despite the different views about the consequences of globalization (Friedman, 2007; Stiglitz, 2006), it is theoretically possible and economically real that the majority of the people on earth are participants of the globalized world. We wear shirts that are made by people in many different countries. Hundreds of millions watch the same sports event simultaneously from all parts of the world thousands of miles away. McDonald’s, the American fast food giant born in Chicago, has stores in over 120 countries. Suhas Gopinath, an Indian boy from a poor family, developed a multimillion-dollar company creating Web sites for American businesses when he was 14 years old (Salkowitz, 2010). In 2013, over 230 million people lived in a country different from where they were born, compared to about 150 million merely 20 years before (Connor et al., 2013).
The potential for anyone to engage in activities on a global scale without considering geographical distance has enabled multinational corporations to spread their production all over the world, market products to people in the remotest areas of Africa, and employ people from any part of the globe. It has also made it possible for any individual to take advantage of the same mechanism to join the global production chain, to market their talents to people in faraway places, and to consume goods produced in remote places. The implications of this potential are not fully understood and may never be as globalization continues to evolve and will always be a dynamic process. However, it is obvious that from now on, all human activities must be considered in the context of globalization as they will always be affected by forces of globalization.
Education is a universal human activity. Although traditionally conducted mostly in local contexts, it has been affected by globalization in recent years. But because of its historical nature of being an extremely local activity, governed by local economy, culture, and politics, education has been slow in response to globalization in comparison to economic activities. Judging from recent activities, this is likely to change. Globalization in education is speeding up and will probably become one of the most impactful changes in the twenty-first century. This research paper reviews developments in globalization in education in the recent past and discusses the challenges and prospects of globalization in education in the future.
The first major development in globalization and education is increasing global standardization of educational policies, student experiences, and teaching practices. For a variety of reasons to be discussed in this section, education providers, which have typically been local, have engaged in activities that aim to comply with and compete against a global standard, just like their business counterparts, which have worked to develop international standards and compete with each other to demonstrate their ability to produce better quality products with better practices that are more efficient. As a result, global organizations have been established to develop and market standards, organize competitions, and identify good practices.
The Emergence of Global Standards: The Case of PISA
The growth of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) exemplifies the increasing trend of global standardization of education. PISA is given every 3 years in three subjects: reading, math, and science. Each round focuses on one subject. First launched in the year 2000 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the PISA has become the world’s most influential and successful educational assessment program within just over a decade. Since its first round of testing in 2000, the number of participating countries and economies has increased from 32 (28 OECD member countries and four nonmember countries) to 65 in the most recent round administered in 2012. With over 510 000 students taking the test in 2012, the OECD claims it represented “about 28 million 15-year-olds globally” (OECD, 2010).
Technically PISA is a large-scale international test in only three subject areas, similar to the cross-national testing programs that have been in operation by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) since 1959. By the time PISA was launched, the IEA had already conducted multiple rounds of large-scale studies in mathematics, literacy, science, civic and citizenship, information literacy, including the well-known Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in the 1990s. TIMSS gained so much traction that the acronym was kept but changed to represent Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. Despite the success of TIMSS in promoting global standards, it is PISA that has established itself as the de facto gold standard for both educational quality and global competitiveness.
Global Standard for Economic Competitiveness
PISA scores have been marketed as indicators of the quality of a nation’s human capital, hence its economic prosperity in the future. PISA claims to “assess to what extent students at the end of compulsory education, can apply their knowledge to real-life situations and be equipped for full participation in society” (OECD, 2013b). In a research paper published by PISA/OECD, the authors make a direct connection between PISA performance and national economic growth. According to the authors, an increase of 25 points in PISA scores over the next 25 years would result in an aggregate gain of USD 115 trillion in GDP in OECD countries over the lifetime of the generation born in 2010. The gain would be USD 260 if all OECD countries could raise their average PISA performance to that of the best OECD performer, Finland (Hanushek and Woessmann, 2010).
This marketing strategy has been extremely successful in the age of globalization when all nations are concerned about their competitiveness against others. As a result, political leaders and national governments in many countries have accepted PISA as a measure of their future economic prosperity and thus frequently refer to PISA performances in national policy contexts. For example, the former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard set the goal for Australia to be placed top five on the PISA ranking by 2025 (Ferrari, 2012). U.S. President Barack Obama called Shanghai’s students’ top PISA performance in 2009 another Sputnik moment, evoking the launch of the first man-made satellite by the former Soviet Union, as if Chinese students PISA scores meant the same as the science and technological prowess behind Sputnik.
Global Standard for Educational Quality
The idea that PISA is the global gold standard for educational quality has been firmed established. As the standard for educational quality, PISA now commands the attention of world political leaders, media pundits, and the general public, as well as educational researchers. Standings on the PISA ranking have been equated with nations’ educational quality. As such countries that have produce high PISA scores have been automatically accepted as having better education quality and those with lower scores lower quality. Governments, education leaders, and the education sector in countries with low performance or a decline have been criticized, while high-performing education systems have been idolized. For example, after students in Shanghai became the number one on the PISA scale, media stories immediately call them the smartest, the best educated in the world. Germany’s poor ranking in the first round caused a national uproar. Doubts about the PISA as a gold standard for educational quality are virtually nonexistent as the few reports that do present doubts are drowned in the overwhelming questioning about why some countries have so much better education (Breakspear, 2012).
Such questions result in global idolization of high-performing countries. Since its first round, PISA has created at least two major education miracles: Finland and Shanghai. Prior to its top performance in the first few rounds of PISA, Finland was little known to the rest of the world. But thanks to PISA, Finland has become the Mecca for education reformers, attracting hordes of pilgrims from all over the world eager to learn how Finland has such a high-quality education system. Without the PISA, few would be interested in reading the now popular book Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? (Sahlberg, 2011). Likewise, Shanghai became the new Mecca as soon as it was announced that students from this Chinese city scored number one in the 2009 round. Prominent education researchers in the United States quickly came up with books like Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems (Tucker, 2011) to encourage learning from Shanghai.
Global Standardization of Educational Policy and Practices
One of the original purposes of cross-country studies was to understand the effects of policies and practices within and across educational systems. Cross-country studies also provide the opportunity for educational policy makers and practitioners to learn from each other. But PISA has pushed such learning to the level of global standardization. Given the belief that PISA marks the potential for economic competitiveness and educational quality, it suggests that whatever factors contributes to PISA scores should become universally accepted benchmarks. As a result there have been global attempts by individual countries, research groups, international consulting firms, and the OECD itself to identify and summarize policies and practices that can be universally accepted as best practices.
The OECD, in connection with Pearson Foundations, for example, produced Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education: Lessons from PISA for the United States, a book and a collection of video cases (OECD, 2011). McKinsey & Co, the New York-based international consulting firm, summarized the best practices in its report How the World’s Best-Performing School Systems Come out on Top (McKinsey & Company, 2007). The same firm, using PISA as the primary indicator of education quality, also came up with an influential on teacher quality based on studies of teacher recruitment, training, retention, and accountability in high-performing countries on PISA to offer lessons about how to improve educational quality via improving teachers (Citation). The Grattan Institute, an independent research group in Australia, conducted a study on the high-performing countries in Asia and published an influential report Catching Up: Learning from the Best School Systems in East Asia (Jensen, 2012). The OECD has not been hesitant to directly offer strategies either (Bieber and Martens, 2011). Among others, it suggests a focus on social and gender equity; decentralized school management; a cooperative school structure; strong centralize assessment system and accountability measures with high and demanding educational standards (Schleicher, 2006).
The results have been remarkable. PISA has prompted major policy changes in many countries (Breakspear, 2012; Knodel et al., 2013). Many of the changes are strikingly similar: centralizing curriculum and standards making, global benchmarking in curriculum and standards, strengthening testing and accountability measures, and encouraging local autonomy and market competition so as to reach the same outcomes (Breakspear, 2012). The Global Education Reform Movement or GERM described by Pasi Sahlberg (Sahlberg, 2012) is an excellent summary of the global standardization of education phenomenon. In parallel are similar efforts to standardize teacher recruitment, preparation, and incentivization. Students’ experiences are also increasingly homogenized globally as countries emulate or attempt to emulate successes of high-performing nations: more time on academic studies and focus on the PISA subjects – reading, math, and science.
Global Spread of Local Standards and Programs
While the PISA is stimulating the evolution of global standardization of education through collaboration among local governments, there is another growing trend of global standardization, that is, the global spread of standards and programs developed for a specific local context. In the age of globalization, as schools, parents, educators, and governments look for high-quality programs and standards, they have started directly ‘buying’ standards and programs developed elsewhere.
The rapid growth of the International Baccalaureate (IB) in recent years is a telling example. Founded in Geneva, Switzerland, IB was originally developed as “a single program for internationally mobile students preparing for university” by “a group of talented, forward-thinking teachers at the International School of Geneva, with assistance from several other international schools” (IBO, 2013a). At its early stage, the majority of schools that use the IB program were international schools, with a few government schools.
The rapid expansion of the IB did not start after the 1990s. There were only 269 IB programs in 1989. The last decade of the twentieth century saw some acceleration in growth. The number of IB programs increased to nearly 889. The growth skyrocketed in the twenty-first century. In 2012, there were 4231 IB programs in over 140 countries around the world, an astonishing fivefold increase in 12 years (IBO, 2013b). More importantly the IB is no longer a high school program for internationally mobile students. It has become a complete education program for students aged 3–19 years with the original IB Diploma Programme (DP), IB Middle Years Programme, and IB Primary Years Programme that were added later, and the newest addition the IB Career-related Certificate Program. Over half of the IB schools today are not international schools serving mobile students.
In its essence, IB is a curriculum similar to other curricula offered within a local school but it has become a global franchise. As a complete curriculum, carries its own philosophy and standards of education. A school that decides to adopt IB cannot pick and choose what IB courses to offer, but adopt the entire program and of course its standards and philosophy. Students go through the program and complete the requirements following the IB prescription. In other words, students in IB programs all over the world have the same experience, in very much the same way as customers of McDonald’s restaurants. In other words, IB is grown from a local school curriculum to a global standard.
The quick spread of the IB in the past decade is largely driven by the desire for global high standards of education, the same that fueled the PISA movement. To many, the IB (and the Advanced Placement or AP) “represent the curricular gold standard for secondary education” (Byrd et al., 2007: p. 7). Governments, philanthropy organizations, schools, and local communities around the world have been eager to promote the franchise of IB and the AP in the hope to upgrade their education to a global standard (Byrd et al., 2007). Tony Blaire, former British Prime Minister, once announced his support to develop an IB DP school in every local authority in England (Abrioux and Rutherford, 2013).
Localization of International Schools
Another burgeoning phenomenon of global standardization is the localization of international schools. Like the IB, international schools were initially established to offer an education to a highly mobile population – children of diplomats, staff of international businesses and organizations, and military personnel stationed away from their country of origin. International schools typically offer a curriculum that bears the standards of their country of origin, or different from the local curriculum where they reside. In other words, international schools are outposts of national education systems in other countries.
International schools have gone through a rapid period of growth and transformation in the age of globalization. “In the past, international schools reflected the process of international migration, with expatriates and diplomats wishing their children to be educated in systems compatible with those of their home country” (Hayden and Thompson, 2008: p. 9). Hence until very recently the majority of international school students were expatriates. But “Today, locally born residents fill about 80% of spaces in international schools and drive about two thirds of the market expansion” (ICEF Monitor, 2013). The expansion has been astronomical: 153% increase in the number of international schools in just 12 years. At the beginning of the 2012–13 academic year over 6300 international schools were recorded. The number is expected to reach 11 000 by 2020 and will serve over 6 million students (ICEF Monitor, 2013).
The growth of international schools in the last decade has been driven by the same desire to have high-quality education or “a certain dissatisfaction with the quality of the national education offer; the desire to sponsors and families to foster a global outlook that is not tied to a particular culture or education system; and the expressed need to prepare students to live and work in a globalized world” (Hayden and Thompson, 2008: p. 9). An international curriculum is deemed as high standard. “Not only are new schools continually opening, but their ranks also grow whenever existing schools convert to an international curriculum, begin instruction using a foreign language (usually English), or open a satellite campus in another country” (ICEF Monitor, 2013).
The Irony of Global Standardization: East versus West
There are two distinct trends in the globalization standardization movements in terms of the origin of the ‘gold standard.’ In the mostly government-driven movement inspired by PISA and other international tests, the East, that is, East Asian countries seem to be the source of high-quality education because they have consistently produced high scores. Ironically, the fastest growth of international schools with curriculum standards originated from the West, mostly the United Kingdom and the United States, has been seen in East Asia. Today, over 50% of international schools are in Asia. China, for example, with only 22 international schools just a decade ago, had over 340 in 2012. In Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and China, all with high PISA scores that the West admires, “government funded efforts have resulted in the development of entire international education hubs” (ICEF Monitor, 2013). It seems that the gold standard of education for the East Asian countries is entirely different from what has been identified by the PISA.
Globalization has also created the possibility for existing educational institutions and educators to imagine and evolve from local providers into global enterprises. The desire of schools to pursue high-quality education, especially internationally recognized qualifications, presents an attractive market for entrepreneurially minded education entities to export their products globally. The result is the emerging phenomenon of global enterprising on multiple levels: systems, schools, and teachers.
Related to the global spread of local standards and curriculum discussed in the previous section is the entrepreneurial efforts to export educational qualification courses and exams to students and schools globally. Unlike the IB, students and schools do not have to adopt the programs in their entirety. Local schools do not have to change their entire school curriculum, thus making themselves as a retail store of different programs. This flexibility creates a vast market for different programs to coexist and motivates a large of group of players to enter the global market.
National qualification systems that were historically developed to serve their citizens have been exported to other countries. One of the systems that entered the global market earlier is from the United Kingdom. The various versions of its qualifications such as the O-Level, the A-Level, GCSE, and the IGCSE designed for students in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (Tattersall, 2007) have been used in many commonwealth countries or former British colonies for a while. They have recently entered more countries, even government schools in sovereign countries such as China. What is interesting is that the offerings of the qualifications and supports have become commercial products that schools and students in other countries purchase. As a result, providers such as Cambridge International Examination and Edexcel of the global education business giant Pearson have become global enterprises. IGCSE, for example, was taken by students in 120 countries in 2010.
The Victoria Certificate of Education (VCE), a qualification system owned by the government of the state of Victoria, Australia has been actively marketing the qualifications and licensing it to schools outside Victoria. The VCE is now taught in eight Chinese schools under license through schools in Victoria (VCAA, 2013). Canada is another example. While there is no national curriculum or qualification in Canada to export, education ministries of its seven provinces all accredit offshore schools and offer them the right to teach Canadian curricula and award Canadian diplomas, for a fee. British Columbia even let public “school districts operate as profit-making intermediaries” (Godsall, 2011).
The AP offered by the College Board was originally designed for students in the United States in 1950s, but in recent years it has been expanding its global reach as well. It is not a government-backed program but generally accepted by higher education institutions in the United States. In the last decade the number of non-U.S. students taking the AP increased by four times from around 20 000 in 2002 to over 80 000 in 2012.
Some schools and universities have also taken an entrepreneurial approach to education in the age of globalization. Although still at its early stage, we are seeing a growing trend of educational institutions, both postsecondary and K-12, evolving into global enterprises by exporting their products to other countries. These enterprising efforts take a number of forms, but primarily in the following ways.
Joint Programs: Global Supply Chain
The first form is very much like a global supply chain, that is, the final product, in this case students, is created by different institutions located in different parts of world. Higher education institutions from developed countries have been offshoring parts of the product-making process to other institutions. For example, a university in the United States can have 2 years of the 4 years its degree program requires taught by an institution in India or China. Such joint programs have been extremely popular because it saves the students and institutions costs and resources. In China, the number of such joint programs has grown from 0 in 1990 to nearly 2000 in 2012, not counting those not officially approved by the Chinese authorities. Over 1 million Chinese students have graduated from these programs by 2012.
Independent Campuses: Global Outposts
Another common form is building or renting a campus. Traditional basic education schools such as the Harrow School and the Dulwich College from England have begun their global enterprising journey. In recent years, they have built campus in multiple locations in Asia. The University of Nottingham opened its Ningbo campus in China in 2004. Most recently, New York University opened two campuses, one in Abu Dhabi and one in Shanghai. While the nature of their operations may vary slightly, these campuses are no question examples of these institutions’ global enterprising ambition.
Distance and Online: Virtual Campus
Another form of global enterprising is through technology. While distance education programs have been pioneered by dedicated institutions such as the Open University in the United Kingdom, recent technological development has enabled more traditional schools and universities to attract students globally. One of the most amazing developments is Massively Online Open Courses (MOOCs). Starting in 2011, a number of well-financed consortia of prestigious universities in the United States have begun to offer free online courses to students around the globe. While it is too early to know how MOOCs may or may not affect higher education or K-12 education around the globe, it is clear though that traditional educational institutions can have access to a global audience without being physically present.
Global Migration of Students
Students pursuing education in a country where they were born is not a new phenomenon but globalization has certainly enabled more students to do so in recent years (She and Wotherspoon, 2013). As a result, international students are one of the fastest growing parts of the global education system. “The number of students enrolled in tertiary education outside their country of citizenship increased more than threefold, from 1.3 million in 1990 to nearly 4.3 million in 2011, representing an average annual growth rate of almost 6%. This is a greater increase than the overall rise in tertiary enrolments globally,” says to an OECD report in 2013 (OECD, 2013a: p. 1).
Globalization is unquestionably one of the primary drivers behind the rapid growth. First, the increasingly globalized and competitive world places new demand on skills and qualifications, placing more value on tertiary education obtained in countries which have traditionally been viewed to have better universities and colleges. It is thus no surprise to see the Western developed nations that have the reputation of offering excellent higher education as the top receiving countries. In 2011, 77% of international students were studying in OECD countries, with over half of them in the top five hosting countries: the United States (17%), the United Kingdom (13%), Australia (6%), Germany (6%), and France (6%) (OECD, 2013a: p. 1).
The second reason that globalization fuels the growth of international students is lowered costs and barriers to study abroad as well as rising income. China, for example, did not begin to send any students to the Western countries until 1978. But today it has become the largest source of international students. In 2011, China had over 700 000 students studying abroad, 85% of whom in OECD countries (OECD, 2013a). This is largely because of China’s political change after the Cultural Revolution and the rising middle class as a result of its participation in the global economy.
These two reasons, if they continue to be true, will greatly change the landscape of global student migration in the global education market. First, if and when high education system develops in developing countries, they will become competitors to the existing providers. For example, the number of foreign students in Korea has increased over 17-fold between 2000 and 2011, while the share of international students in the United States dropped from 23 to 17% during this period (OECD, 2013a). It is likely that China will become the next major player in attracting international students. China has already seen exponential growth in the number of overseas students over the last decade. In 1999, about 52 000 students from 166 countries studied in China; the number increased by six times to over 320 000 in 2012 (China Association for International Education, 2013). Likewise, as their economies develop, we can expect more international students from countries that are not major sources of international students. The next likely group may be from Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa.
Global student migration is not only limited to higher education. Although the number remains small, students at the basic education level have begun to study in other education systems.
Global Citizenship: Globalization’s Demand on Education
Globalization places new demand on education and one of the primary challenges is to change its orientation from preparing only local and national citizens to global citizens. Global citizens must be globally competent. Global competencies have no universally accepted definition but it generally include “the skills, knowledge, and attitude to work effectively in our increasingly interdependent world,” according to the University of Wisconsin Task Force on Global Competence (University of Wisconsin-Global Competence Task Force, 2008, p. 3). The task force further states: “Foremost amongst these ‘global competencies’ are the abilities to communicate effectively across linguistic and cultural boundaries, to see and understand the world from a perspective other than one’s own, and to understand and appreciate the diversity of societies and cultures. Students need to appreciate the interdependence of nations in a global economy and to know how to adapt their work to a variety of cultures” (University of Wisconsin-Global Competence Task Force, 2008, p.3).
Fernando Reimers, a Harvard University education professor, recently offered a similar definition that includes three dimensions: the affective dimension, the action dimension, and the academic dimension. The affective dimension is also called the ethical dimension, which refers to “a positive disposition toward cultural differences and a framework of global values to engage difference.” The action dimension is also the skill dimension, which primarily means the “ability to speak, understand, and think” in a foreign language. The academic dimension has to do with academic knowledge of the world, hence also referred to as the disciplinary and interdisciplinary dimension, and that includes “deep knowledge and understanding of world history, geography, the global dimensions of topics such health, climate, and economics, and the process of globalization itself” (Reimers, 2009).
Consistent across most definitions of global competence is the issue of others. The hallmark of globalization is the death of distance, which has brought ‘others’ previously separated by distance into our lives and how to view them, interact with, and live with them has become a significant issue facing all of us. Thus the foundation of our ability to live in the global world is the knowledge, perspectives, and skills required to live and work with people who are different from us culturally, linguistically, economically, and religiously (Zhao, 2009b).
Global competence and global citizenship have been identified by many international organizations and governments as crucial for our children to succeed in the age of globalization. In Australia, for example, Asia literacy, which is part of global competency in that it reorients Australian’s focus to Asia, a more important part of the globe than their traditional partners – Europe and the United States, has been recognized as essential for young Australians to succeed in the future. In the United States, the Asia Society and a host of other organizations have been working promoting global competencies in schools (Asia Society, 2008). The increasing number of international students and international education programs represent the strong interest of students in developing countries to gain global competency. However sadly, global competency has not factored in as major component of education provided in most schools around the world.
Conclusions: Major Themes and Issues
Globalization in education is still relatively new and constant evolving phenomenon. The research paper provides preliminary observations of some recent developments, which by far do not capture the dynamic and complex possibilities globalization may bring to education. However, even this preliminary review offers some intriguing and challenging themes and issues brought about by globalization.
Homogenization and Diversification
It seems clear that globalization has brought many attempts by national authorities and international organizations to standardize education. Thus it warrants concern about possible global homogenization of education. Given the vast diversity and inequality that exists around the globe, a globally homogenized education may not serve everyone well. Moreover, although we have entered the age of globalization, when it may work better for nations to develop a diversity of talents instead of competing with each other in the same domains, nations in general seem to be stuck in the Cold War age by engaging in an education arms race through international tests. However, globalization has enabled more grassroots educational exchanges, which makes it possible for a more diverse education scene in the world. Furthermore, what is paradoxical is that although nations are all working hard to out-educate others, there is tremendous interest in collaboration and exchanges of educational ideas, strategies, and programs among different countries. No country is hiding their education secretes from each other.
Historically education, at least that offered by government schools, is considered a national matter. However, globalization results in “the erosion in the autonomy of the nation-state in all matters, including educational policy matters” (Burbules and Torres, 2000: p. 15). As shown in this research paper, there are significant growth of importing and exporting of education standards, content, and qualifications among countries. Such exporting and importing poses serious challenges to countries sensitive to the issue of educational sovereignty. For example, China still would like to maintain control of education for its citizens, thus it still does not allow its citizens to attend international schools in China. It also maintains control of international joint education programs by requiring prior approval for overseas educational programs to operate in China. At the same time, in the interest to bring high-quality education and stimulate educational innovations, it seems necessary to allow a variety of successful programs, regardless of their place of origin, to enter national markets. Countries will have to work on this issue in the coming years, if not decades.
Brain Drain, Brain Gain, and the Flight of Talents
Developing countries have traditionally been concerned about losing their talents when their students go for advanced studies in other, mostly developed, countries, hence the issue of brain drain. In the age of globalization, this issue has changed. Increased mobility as well as technology enables high-level talents to move around different locations with ease and work remotely. Additionally multinational corporations recruit and deploy talents globally. Thus developing countries, should they desire and are able to provide the necessary conditions to attract talents, they cannot only have talents originally from their own country but also talents from around the world to work for them, hence changing brain drain to brain gain because these talents have received advanced education that their countries may not be able to provide. The issue is who can attract the best talents, not who can educate the best talents.
A Final Word
Education will surely change in the age of globalization. The changes will pose tremendous changes to nations at both the policy and practice levels. But today, fundamental changes have not been instituted yet. What has happened so far is not transformational in that education is still conceived the same way as it was a century ago: a group of students working with one adult (the teacher) belonging to an institution that educates and certifies the education. It is still driven by institutions. A true revolution will be a new paradigm of education in which students are the driving force and organizer of education. Globalization certainly presents such possibilities.
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