Effect Of Globalisation On Educational Policy In Malaysia Education Essay

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Globalisation is a buzzword nowadays and it is often claimed as a natural process by many views especially from popular media. Globalisation is inevitable to a nation. Different nation may have different response and effect of globalisation. Many sectors are affected either in good or bad ways due to globalisation and one of the examples is in education sector. In this article, I wish to discuss the effect of globalisation on educational policy, especially in Malaysian context.

Globalisation is not restricted to a definition; it can be define in many ways depending from which views it is seen. In my point of view, globalisation is a process where the world is 'shrinking', becoming borderless and viewed as a sense of global wholeness and unity. Globalisation made everything becomes easier and it has led to great changes in many sectors since hundred years ago. However, it has speeded up over the last century due to the presence of advance technology in communication. The usage of emails and internet are the example of globalisation where global communication takes place almost instantneous. According to Bottery (2006), globalisation can be defined as the planet is viewed as a whole and the speed of communication had 'shrunk' it over the last few centuries. Many theorists and authors generally define globalisation a process involving the movement of the world's people, images, technologies, finance including trade, money, and capital, and ideas, such as practices concerning states and other institutional policies. (http://infonomics-society.org). Globalisation is said to be marked by speedy, free movement of people, services, capital, goods, ideas and knowledge across borders.

Some people believed globalisation is a negative phenomenon which affects the world in many ways. One of the common problems that are always associated to globalisation is environmental problems. To name a few, global warming, ozone depletion and imbalance ecology system are the impact of globalisation, specifically environmental globalisation. Another example of destructive globalisation impact; cultural globalisation is seen as the cause of losing one's culture and language since everyone is adapting and practising the dominant culture. McDonald is the example of recent dominant culture as a result of cultural globalisation. Despite the negative affect of globalisation, another group of people agree that globalisation has given advantages to the world, where people get more connected and informed than ever before. Looking from cultural globalisation, Bottery states it provides cultural variety in one location to eat virtually any national dish, attend any religious ceremony, and listen to any kind of music. These varieties, as claims by Bottery provide education with different windows through which new perspectives are gained. Besides that, cultural globalisation too offers access to different beliefs and approaches to life, and be a real force for spiritual growth (Bottery, 2006).

On top of that, globalisation is not solely focuses on the advance of technology, Bottery (2006) in his article claims globalisation includes environmental globalisation, cultural, demographic, political, American and economic globalisation and it is a continuous process whether human being recognised or not. He then added that the process of globalisation affects nation states, generate policy mediations and have direct impact upon educational institutions. To conclude, different types of globalisation put different tensions to the world. However, the different types of globalisation interact and influence one another in diverse ways, creating a more complex and difficult world to live on.


Education is ranked among the main concern of nation-states as it is playing a remarkable role in shaping and preparing children for the future in an increasingly globalised world. In fact, much money is spent on education as a public service due to its importance. To achieve the aims of education, traditionally, nation-states developed their education policy in regards to what they saw as important to their nation. However, in recent context, education policy is seen beyond the nation-states, it is become internationalised to the dominance of the global economy over the national politics. Within the wider context of globalization, education is now regarded as an international service, playing a remarkable mission in the global economy with investment in people, skills and knowledge. Simply, it argues that education policy nowadays is formed and implemented in a global context. The improvement of education policy recently is also due to global competitiveness, due to invent human capital discourse which is economically competitive to other nations. In such global context, improving global competitiveness has been targeted by nation-states' education policy. This is due to invent human capital discourse which is economically competitive to other nations. (infonomics-society.org)

According to Mundy, many countries have become more competitive by working hard to enhance the productivity of the domestic labour force which can be accomplished by introducing new educational policies, programs and reforms that prepare children to compete in the global labour force. He later added; despite benefitting the education, the competiveness among these nation-states enhancing the production of new education polices with full of value. In fact, many studies have confirmed that there have been new education policies that introduce reforms in curriculum, pedagogy and evaluation, seeking to boost competitiveness among nation-states. Examples of these reforms are engagement in international comparisons of test performance, national curriculum and productive pedagogies Rizvi and Lingard [41] confirm that globalization has reformed and redesigned the educational policy terrain.


The process of globalization has deeply shifted and changed the ways in which education policies are developed, implemented and evaluated as globalization has witnessed the reworking of the nation-state; the site at which public policy was most commonly created.

Positive effect

It is no doubt that globalisation leads to a better education policy. This is due to education is a vital part to help a nation to compete with other nations. The role of education has changed in most common nation-state as they realised the importance of giving proper education to the people which eventually helped the economic growth of the nation. For example, recent finding in India states that Indian Education System has increased fourteen-fold in terms of the number of universities and thirty three-fold in terms of the number of colleges, in comparison to the number at the time of Independence (http://www.aserf.org.in/presentations/globalization.pdf).

As a developing country, Malaysia too undergoes changes in education policy to meet the need of this globalised world. The colonisation of British in Malaysia left long lasting effect to the deviations of Malaysian education policy, which is continuously changing until today. Traditionally, education in Tanah Melayu started as a private enterprise which is mainly concerned in producing man with means of knowledge and skills for his well-being and for his salvation in the hereafter. The education system in Tanah Melayu then changed as the British needs skilled people to work for them in order to exploit the economy in Tanah Melayu thus the British colonial provides the school for locals. When the British colonized Malay, they instituted an education system in all of the colonies with the purpose of helping the natives to maintain traditional life and to prevent social unrest through restricted education (Hooker, 2003). In fact, the British limited education to "creating better fishermen and farmers, because the British worried that an 'over-educated' population might rebel against colonial rule" (Hashim, 1996).( https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1794/9167/Tableman_Leslie_Diana_MPA_Win09.pdf?sequence=1\) This is the starting point of revolution in education policy in Malaysia, where economic sector is the biggest influence to the change. Education is an important tool in supporting the infrastructure of a country, hence having a reliable education system is critical to the success of developing countries in a global economy (Tableman, 2007). (https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1794/9167/Tableman_Leslie_Diana_MPA_Win09.pdf?sequence=1)

Much said globalization is synonymous with the opening of national borders to the international flow of goods, services, raw materials and resources, information and technology, and human resources. In the last three decades, East Asia has been reported to experience a period of economic development which has been described as 'unprecedented' and 'miraculous' (World Bank, 1994). Economic growth and educational expansion is closely related, and these two aspects are also linked to state formation and developmental state. It is supported by Green (2002), the coincidence in East Asia countries of economic advance with educational expansion clearly suggests a close relationship between the two. For example, it has been reported that in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, the economic development grew eight per cent a year, which is way faster than other region on the world (Green, 2002). Generally, the enrolment rates in secondary school were below 50 per cent in each country in the early 60's, however, these four countries have undergone enormous expansion in education, where each of the countries had quite high levels of basic education. In fact, Taiwan and South Korea now have among the highest rates of upper secondary completion in the world, and a large proportion of those who complete go on to higher education (Green, 2002).

(ENGLISH AS DOMINANT LANGUAGE : http://idosi.org/wjihc/wjihc1(1)11/6.pdf)

In response to economic recession in 1997 in Malaysia, the Malaysian government took a few drastic actions to reform the economy in Malaysia. The needs for more graduates and k-workers who could speak English well and who are able to work in multinational companies were listed as important strategies. To meet such needs, the government reversed the English language policy in schools. Beginning 2003, the medium of instruction for Math and Science subjects started to be taught in English. Having, at least, a credit in English in the national school examination would be an advantage for students to be accepted at public universities. Now English becomes a second language in Malaysia again. In fact, the last Malaysian Prime Minister revealed that 94% of unemployed graduated in the country are Malays and they are unable to procure jobs because industrial jobs called for a high English language competency. (http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=xzrSYcBxaV4C&oi=fnd&pg=PA123&dq=effect+of+globalization+on+education+in+malaysia&ots=KNH2yfoWDU&sig=odAIpeFxJyJmIwMCY1hdrhvx4sc#v=onepage&q&f=false) Indeed, with the advancement of technology in the classrooms, the way students learn English in Malaysia may not be the same as it was before. (http://cluteonline.com/journals/index.php/CTMS/article/viewFile/5575/5658) However, there is complicated issue regarding the usage of English language to teach Math and Science, the policy is reverted to using Malay and English to teach both subjects. Despite the issue, it is remarkable that English language is an important language for people to compete, as most of the trade commodity use English to communicate.

As a developing country, Malaysia needs to focus on the aspect of lifelong learning, which is essential to meet the changes in the demand for more knowledge workers, especially in producing skilled workers. In the area of higher education, universities have become factors of the competitive advantage of nations (Porter, 1998). To obtain and sustain competitive advantage in various industries, the higher education is the main locus that moves economies forward, and the primary means of educating and generating the talent or human capital. Besides that, due to the same fact to boost world economies, universities have become more self-consciously global, especially universities of the advanced nations, looking for students from around the world who represent the entire spectrum of cultures and values, besides sending their own students abroad in educational exchange programmes to prepare them for global careers. Some of the universities also offering courses of study that address the challenges of an interconnected world and collaborative research programs to advance science for the benefit of all mankind. As a consequence, the forces of shaping higher education cause the movement of people across the border. Students travel from one developed nation to another, and from developing or less-developed to the developed countries to seek good education. (http://amrjournal.blogspot.co.uk/2009/07/impact-of-globalization-on-malaysias.html\)

The preamble to the Malaysian Education Act 1996 states that 'education plays a vital role in achieving the country's vision of attaining the status of a fully developed nation in terms of economic development, social justice, and spiritual, moral and ethical strength' (http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1023%2FA%3A1017572119543) The economic globalisation has affected Malaysian higher education policy where in 1995, the Malaysian government reversed its opposition to private universities and encouraged private sector investment in higher education. However, the private sector including foreign providers is strictly regulated. Malaysia instead legislated to maintain governmental control over the emerging private higher education sector in order to make it meet what the government sees as the cultural and economic needs of the nation. According to Ward and Eden (2009), for education, neo-liberal economics means introducing the kind of competition which makes private business successful. Neo-liberals want a free-market in education, making education as commodity which is bought and sold; schools are the providers and parents and children the consumers or customers. In the 1990s not only private universities and colleges are liberalised, many private schools and international schools are also built. Now, foreign capitals are allowed to hold up to 49% of the shares in any private educational company. Branch campuses of foreign universities are allowed, in fact attracted to set up in Malaysia. (http://www.japss.org/upload/1.%20globalization.pdf

By 2000, there were 11 public higher educational institutions, 7 private universities, 3 foreign university branch campuses, and more than 400 private colleges approved by the Malaysian government (Challenger Concept, 2000). Most of the private institutions offer their own diplomas as well as foreign-linked degree programs, some of which require students to complete one or more years of study overseas while others can be completed entirely in Malaysia. Some of these colleges, such as Taylor's College, are foreign-owned.

With the money flows through this education commodity, the economy of the country will develop greatly. However, one question remain, is this liberalization, globalization and privatization of education good for Malaysians, especially the poor. It is clear that the poor cannot afford to go to private school which requires high fees. For example, one of secondary schools in Malaysia, known as Saad Foundation College, the fees required for a year is about RM 41 000 (equivalent to 8200 GBP). That is a big amount of money compared to average salary of working class people in Malaysia. It is said that private school serves better place to educate the students, for example private schools have much smaller classes, much better student-teacher interaction, excellent extra curricular activities; we take the children out of the school and into the community and we even teach several languages like French, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin. Although private school is good for students' lifelong learning, it is a disadvantage to the poor, where they have no chance to have the same kind of education and is always lacking. Tooley concludes in his recent report Could Globalization of Education Benefit the Poor? That: The argument began, first by showing that there are private schools available to, and patronized by, the poor in "developing" countries. Second, there is evidence showing that these schools are offering poor parents and children a better deal, educationally-speaking, than the state alternative. Teachers in the private schools, in particular, the research has suggested, show a much greater commitment to teaching than in the government schools. These two considerations suggest that private education in itself could be beneficial to the poor. (http://www.japss.org/upload/1.%20globalization.pdf) Economic globalisation has affect education greatly. Higher education is swept up in global marketisation. It trains the executives and technicians of global businesses; the main student growth is in globally mobile degrees in business studies and computing; the sector is shaped by economic policies undergoing partial global convergence, and the first global university market has emerged. (http://doc.utwente.nl/60264/1/Marginson07globalisation.pdf)

Globalization is also affecting methods of educational delivery and support. Traditional classroom delivery is now enhanced with electronic learning support. Online courses, virtual classrooms and Web-based tutorials are some delivery methodologies for distance education across borders as a result of globalization. In fact, using ICT in education is inevitable as ICT has changed the way businesses and industries are conducted and influenced the way people work, interact and function in society (UNESCO, 2002). ICT has become common place at home, at work, and in educational institutions (Kirkup & Kirkwood, 2005). The use of ICT, including the Internet at home and work places, has increased exponentially (McGorry, 2002).

Explosion of knowledge and information in the era of information technology has somehow helped the globalization of education. The introduction of computers and internet and other technology-mediated learning through the use of VCD, CD-Rom, Email, E-Chat, database, webpage, LMS, digital library, etc have helped in the dissemination of information and knowledge to millions around the world (http://idosi.org/wjihc/wjihc1(1)11/6.pdf). Due to this fact, Malaysia is trying to integrate the use of ICT in education, besides to bridge the gap within the global trend as other countries have long developed the policy of ICT in education. The development of the 'Policy on ICT in Education' in Malaysia is underlying of four major pillars; Human Capital, Budget, Digital Learning Resources and Infrastructure.

One of the examples the implementation of ICT in Malaysian Education policy is the launching of Smart school. The objective of the smart school Flagship Application is The Smart School is a learning institution that has been reinvented in terms of teaching and learning methods and school administration system in order to prepare the students for the Information-Based Society. Creativity and better management of information is facilitated through the use of technology where students, teachers, administrators and parents are better prepared for the challenges of the information Age.' The Smart School applications brings the benefit of technology to the educators and administrators. These also allow the young to get familiar with the ICT world - using tools such as personal computers, scanners, printers, multimedia products, TV/videos, etc. - at a much earlier stage in life. They get to appreciate the power of the Internet and multimedia applications, which can make learning more interesting and enriching. This will in turn result in them becoming more technology savvy (http://www.mscmalaysia.my/sites/default/files/pdf/publications_references/SMART_SCHOOL_ROADMAP_020506.pdf)

Smart School is not just about ICT intervention in teaching and learning. The national curriculum and pedagogy are given the highest importance, with the role of teachers, administrators, parents and the community enhanced in the education of the Malaysian students. Individuality, creativity and initiative amongst the students are prioritised. However, ICT is critical in making the teaching and learning processes easier, more fun and effective, as well as making communication and management among the stakeholders more efficient.