The World Is Growing Smaller And More Independent Education Essay

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Since the world is growing smaller and more independent, there is a greater need of global education. The world is changing all the time.

On the business and politics blog (2010) I found the following interesting definition of globalisation:

Perhaps the truest definition of Globalisation is in fact the circumstances of Princess Diana's death and how this explanation is brought to you.

How come you ask? Well, try this for size:

An English princess with an Egyptian boyfriend crashes in a French tunnel, in a German car with a Dutch engine, driven by a Belgian, drunk on Scottish whisky, followed closely by Italian Paparazzi, on Japanese motorcycles; treated by a French doctor, using Brazilian medicines.

You're probably reading this on your computer, that uses Taiwanese chips, on a Korean monitor, assembled by Bangladeshi workers in a Singaporean plant, transported by Indian truck drivers, to a Greek ship, hijacked by Indonesians, unloaded by Sicilian longshoremen, and trucked to you by Eastern European drivers.

That is true Globalisation!

You see, globalisation is an economic, a social and a cultural phenomenon!

We all live in the same world, so all of us feel the change.

Defining education and globalisation

Globalisation. Before we're going to write about the effects of globalisation it's necessary to know what globalisation means.

Despite we use the term 'globalisation' for a long time; it is still very difficult to find a good definition. In 1985 the economist Theodore Levitt described globalisation as changes in global economics affecting production, consumption and investment. It was a globalisation of markets. The term was soon used for political and cultural changes. That's because it can mean different things to different people. It's like everybody has his own vision of it. Moreover, different cultures have different expectations of taste and standard.

Actually globalisation is not something that recently emerged, but the effects became clear only in recent years. At the time of exploration, a long time ago, people were already working across borders, the economic interests were paramount.

World War II did stagnate the world trade, this is made clear by several economic crises. However, the process of globalisation didn't stop. The invention of the steam engine, the steamship and the train made longer trips possible. Furthermore, the invention of the telephone made sure that it was no longer necessary to go on a trip just to exchange information.

Many other developments, including the emergence of various media, but also international organizations and improved infrastructure ensure that globalisation will grow faster and bigger.

At the very beginning globalisation was an exchange of goods. Trade was the reason for contact. Though the basis has still an economic motive, globalisation is also a social and cultural exchange. Internet made this distribution a lot easier.

Fifty years ago it was customary to study at a nearby university, or at least nearby your home. Today one out of thirty students (for a given period) goes study in another country.

In many companies it is common for workers to work in another country for a fixed period. Because of this it is more possible to make contact with other people, friendships and even relationships. Guest workers, who for economic reasons are located in another country, often ensure that the whole family comes to live there. These developments provide a more mixed population.

figure 1 - All topics related to globalisation

Source: (

In figure 1 you see what globalisation for example could involve, but in this paper we'll handle global education.

All this was made possible by a lot of different things, for ex. technology, communication networks, internet access, growth of economic cooperation and movement to free trade. The internet made it a lot easier to cross the borders, to work and communicate. The speed of the news through media is also good evidence. How long did it take before we knew about the earthquake in Japan or the events of September, 11?

We often say that the world is a small place, it's like we're living in one big village. More and more goods are crossing the borders. You don't need to go to Spain for tapas or to America to buy jeans of Tommy Hilfiger. And when you're going on a holiday, sometimes you will see goods from Belgium, like pears in Japan or Coté d'or in Austria.

It's also possible to order goods from all over the world on the internet, it is still a growing business. Nowadays it is impossible not to work over the internet, it is assumed that every company has a website and an email address to get in touch.

Factories all over the world are merging, so it's often necessary to speak a lot of different languages. The free trade and the worldwide market explosion have led to the crash of some factories and a tremendous growth of others. Holidays, music, food, clothes,...from different cultures have enriched life. In the 21th century there are more women and coloreds in the working circuit. All this has also a price tag: a growing fear, aggression, discrimination, prejudices, clashing cultures,... Political leaders from industrialized countries are standing under pressure to protect the majority from the growing minorities. That's why there's a restriction of immigration and a renewal of work permit.

For a long period globalisation only involved adults. Children have long been excluded. The last year we get more and more evidence that this is changing. Like English to preschoolers or students on a joint project working together with children from other countries. In every school, they say that the purpose of education is to make children or young people ready to take a role in society.

Education. After having explained the term globalisation, it's also necessary to understand well the term education. Education is more than going to school. Education is the key to growth and poverty reduction in a country. It is possible to distinguish between schooling, vocational training and tertiary education in the national context and foreign education in the international context. Schooling includes primary and secondary education. Vocational training includes a training to exercise a particular occupation or profession. Tertiary education includes higher education in the country of residence. When a student wants to follow his higher education abroad, it's called foreign education (Labu, A., 2009).

A good quality primary and secondary education is necessary for tertiary education.

Moreover, good quality and appropriate education determines the development and productive employment (Al-Samarrai and Bennell, 2003; Tye B. B., and Tye K. A., 1992).

Global education


As you see it's important to enjoy a good education, a global education, to help out in this world. Education is regarded as a public good. So first it is non-excludable: it's a good for everyone, nobody can be excluded from it. Second, it is non-rival: if one person use this good, another is not affected by it.

Education starts in the primary school. Primary education starts when you're around 3 years old, it's based on providing literacy and numeracy skills. After this, secondary education follows. In secondary schools it's often possible to follow the last year in another country. The stages of education are interlinked, good quality education is important for tertiary education. A good quality and appropriate education also provides a good base for productive training and employment opportunities. Higher educated workers earn more, so more education raises wages and probably also economic performance (Labu, A., 2009).

The effects of education seems larger in low-income countries, this might be consistent that it's also important for the catch-up. The catch-up theory says that low-income countries have the possibility to grow faster than others. The low-income countries have a low capital in contrast with richer nations. A similar capital injection in the economy will have a bigger advantage for the developing countries.

Education and migration

There are different pull and push factors for migration. Wage differences between countries are often the most important. Education is also an important determinant of migration. There's an important difference between permanent and temporary migration.

Carrington and Detragiache (1998) investigated the permanent migration. Their study was based on the migration of 61 developing economies and 25 developed economies. They found that little or no education cause limited access to international immigration. They also found that immigrants are better educated than the rest of the population of their country.

The effects of trade on education

Trade can have macro effects and micro effects.

You can have a macro effect when it is requiring that a country specialize in certain types of education. There's a micro effect when a country has to specialize itself in certain functions, where little training and education is needed. So we see trade can also affect the supply of education.

Trade can have macro effects as the imports and exports shift the structure of the economy, so countries specialize in certain types of education (Wood and Ridao-Cano, 1999). On the other hand, there are micro effects of countries that have to specialize in certain functions. Kaplinsky (2000) said that trade also can affect the supply of education and act like a substitute or complement to national provision.

figure 2 - The effects of trade on education

Source: te Velde, W., 1999. vanaf p 37!

Education as a business

The growth on international trade has its effect on education. As the economies of developing countries merge, the demand for education has multiplied. In the past nine years, higher education has increased with 53%, worldwide there are 153 million university students (Labi, A., 2009).

Many companies, private and multinationals, have helped when there was a robust growth of need of the educational private sector. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has identified that the private (higher) education institutions are the fastest growing sector worldwide (Altbach et al., 2009).

The emergence of digital, distance and virtual learning makes clear that information and communication technology (ICT) has had a big impact on global educational development and advancement. The Apollo Group is a good example of a private company that is providing opportunities for distance learning.

There are also educational related services and products, like Smartschool and Blackboard. They give a very good service. Such products provide schools with an intranet service. Blackboard connects students and teachers, so they can communicate over the internet. Students can post messages and find course material. Teachers can also assistance with grading and keeping track of students assignments. Over 5000 institutions are using Blackboard. Nowadays Blackboard has his share of conflicts. Some of them are traditional customer service issues, but others are more important, because of the new educational models. Many have expressed frustration and left Blackboard for competitors.

Public education, curriculum and pedagogy

Social, political, economic and environmental issues seem to transcend borders. That's why it's very important to create a comprehensive and€ interdisciplinary approach that gives students the possibility to create skills to fit a range of challenges. As you see, new knowledge and skills were added to the curriculum as the world became more complex. By promoting global education we increase our chances to compete economically with the world.

More than three hundred years ago the only important thing in school was reading en writing and sometimes religion. Years later there was also spelling, math, Latin and a few sciences, but still only a few children attended school. Immigration, industrialization and urbanization placed new demands on the educational system.

Because the factories recruited the children from the farms as well the children from other places, the cities became bigger and bigger and a different kind of school was necessary. This school was much bigger and students followed their curriculum with age-mates.

Secondary schools began to appear, but they served only a few. After primary school the boys did the work of their father and the girls helped at home. Things like history and geography seemed unreal and too far away. Even today it is often a less popular course.

The technology of the 20th century changed it all. The emergence of the car industry made it possible to work farther from home. Also air travel made the world smaller. Everyone could keep in touch by phone. People became more and more aware of the world. Radio and television brought the world into our rooms

In just a few generations the world was growing smaller and smaller. In the 19th century and even in the 20th it was a big event for children to go to the market, but today they travel to other countries. At the end of the 20th century there were more people on the move around the world than ever before. There for it was also necessary to create international schools.

In the 21th century it is important that there's a global education. Teachers have the job to make students global citizens. There is no widely accepted definition. In the term global citizens you here citizenship, what means that you are loyal to your town or nation. Within the global context it is necessary first to understand the local environment. Banks (2003) says that it is important for students to understand how life in their cultural communities influences other. He also says that citizens need the knowledge, attitude and skills required to function within cultural communities. It is no longer enough to identify and care about global issues, but we must develop empathy as well. Educators are still trying to figure out how to teach understanding and empathy.

The International Baccalaureate Curriculum. The International Baccalaureate (IB) Curriculum is a program that involves more than 3000 schools all over the world, six of them are in Belgium. IB makes it possible to study everywhere. Parents who have to work in another country do not have to be afraid that their children do not have any education. The International Baccalaureate has three programs of study for students between ages 3 to 19. So they say, they offer an 'international education'.

The International Baccalaureate is widely distributed, even in the remotest countries it's possible to find an IB school. For example in Mongolia, one of the world's most isolated capital cities with a population of only 800 000 people is the International School of Ulaanbataar (ISU). We can say that students have access to an international educational network, even in the most remote areas of the world.

Like all things in life, it is not without critics. Some people argued that the IB curriculum was originally created that children of diplomats could earn an international degree. So it could only be accessible to an elite group of students. Others say that the creators of the program have other culturally specific pedagogical expectations, than are present in some parts of the world.

Charter schools. The Charter schools are primary or secondary schools in the United States that receive public money and like other school, also private donations. Charter schools are accountable to their sponsors to produce positive academic results.

There is some controversy over the schools. A recent study conducted by the Massachusetts Teachers Association found that it's harder for students to get admittance in a charter school. The study suggests that a charter school only wants the 'good students'. They even noticed that one out of two charter schools freshman will not make it to their senior year.

Some argue that charter schools do not push students out, but providing a more rigorous curriculum than other schools.

Internationalization of universities. Universities all over the world are working hard to become international recognized. They try to make this possible by creating an international campus or international partnerships. The many motivations for the internationalization are commercial advantage, knowledge and language acquisition. Many universities are creating satellite campuses in nations around the globe.

The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is a non-profit international student organization. Their mission is to represent international students, provide opportunities for cultural understanding and self-development under the principle of students helping students. They have different partners in 34 countries. The Erasmus project started in 1987 and in 1994 there were already 60 sections in 14 countries. They predict that in 2013 they'll reach 3 million exchange students.

Virtual education. Beyond the creation of international campuses, there has been a push to provide online courses. Virtual education is delivering courses on the internet. It is not education in a classroom face-to-face, but it can be associated with classroom teaching. People do not have to go to the real class to learn a specific course. It's a form of distance education. It includes independent study, as well as videoconferencing and other instructional technologies.

The World Bank and the UNESCO

There are organizations like the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) and the World Bank who are working with developing nations to provide funding and expertise. From 1990 to 2009 the World Bank lent over more than 7 billion dollars for education projects in 106 countries.

One project is the Second Higher Education Project (HEP2) in Vietnam. On the site of the World Bank ( stands, that the goal is to increase the quality of teaching and research to improve the employability of graduates in Vietnam.

The World Bank supports not only higher education, but also projects for primary, secondary and information communication technology education. Currently there are active projects in countries such as Argentina, Cambodia and Egypt.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) works to promote access to education. Many of UNESCO's partnerships are with other UN agencies, it does partner with the World Bank. UNESCO also works together with multinational corporations to help achieve its goal, bringing education to all. A few possible multinational information technology companies are Microsoft and Intel. They help to provide consultation, technology, partnership and the funding for projects.

Non-governmental Organizations

In the past twenty years there has been an enormous growth in non-governmental organizations (NGO's). Many of them want to advocate for global issues such as education, poverty reduction and human rights. Despite that these organizations are working at the basic level, they have had an enormous impact on the way the world is doing business.

One of those organizations is the Women's Global Education Project (WGEP), in Senegal and Kenya. It was founded in 2003 and it says that everyone is entitled to an education, irrespective of gender or economic status. This project will ensure that women and girls can build up better lives. Their chief program, Sisters-to-School, provides scholarship for girls to attend school. They are also providing tutoring in achieving an education. The Sisters-to-School programs impact more than 3000 girls, women and families.

Three views of global education in the United States

It's not important to ask what terms are being used in education, but more important is to see what's the vision and the purpose and how it will affect our children in the future.

Superpowers. This view assumed that the most important fact of life was the conflict between superpowers and the world hegemony. William J. Benneth, who was the U.S. secretary of education, spoke in his speech of 5 December 1986 about the need to learn as much as possible about the world. Those are the global responsibilities of the United States as a global power. He suggested that global education should include geography, foreign languages, some foreign literature and a good deal of European history. But most important is that Bennett suggested that the American student should learn about American literature, history and especially democracy.

A limitation of this approach is that it's not global enough. There's no education about other cultures or other nations. It is actually an incomplete education.

Global economic. A second view about the need of global educations handles the international economic competition. Here they say it's not the global superpower that's the most important, but it's the economic power, the global capitalism.

It was not the USSR they were afraid of, but the European Union who was rapidly gaining economic ground. This was not only economic importance, but also political, cultural, military,…

In 1950 the economic shape of the United States was very healthy. But with the events of 11 September 2001 their economical world crashed. After that some U.S. leaders saw international education as a way to help maintain U.S. economic strength. So they established export education programs.

The Congress considered that the economic welfare will depend of the knowledge about international economy, the international skills in the business community and the awareness of the internationalization of their economy.

The southern Governors also mentioned the problem of 'international illiteracy' in the United States. This will have a negative effect on the ability to compete international. In November 1986 came a no-nonsense report that came right to the economic point:

Americans have not responded to a basic fact: the best jobs, largest markets, and greatest profits belong to those who understand the country with which they are doing business.…

We operate in a global economy. There are no more guaranteed markets for our goods. We must compete-and to compete we must be able to communicate.…

We cannot trade goods or ideas unless we understand our customers and they understand us.

The effect was an increased emphasis in the schools on geography, international studies and foreign languages. There were also the 'sister-school' programs and the teacher and student exchanges. They even recommended special educational programs and assistance to businesses (Marciano, J., 1997).

Humanity. A third view is based on the humanity's responsibility to the individuals and the world. It's about helping children all over the world to understand the interdependent nature of the human world and also learn how to have a creative and responsible part in it. It also handles about the consequences of making choices. Not only the consequences to themselves but to the world. So it's very important to control the values needed for making responsible decisions. That's why it is necessary to learn how to think critically, resolve conflicts and solve problems creatively. [1] 


Global education involves more than just a basic education. When the world has changed our expectations and requirements also changed. Students deal with social issues that make connections worldwide. Global education creates openness to the big world. It's important that people know something about the world and not only about what lives in their own social circles. Global education goes further than knowledge, it also focuses on skills and values so children take more solidarity actions.

When education changed, it was important to discover other forms of teaching. It was no longer necessary to sit on a chair and watch the blackboard. Nowadays it's also possible to study behind your computer, to do self-study and even to study in another country. All this has to be financed. Gradually there came more different schools, like for example charter schools and virtual schools.

Personal comment

As from I was a little child, I knew I wanted to do something with people. When I grew taller I realized teaching was something I really wanted. When I was reading the text I asked myself if it was all planned from the beginning. The strange thing of all is that almost fifty percent of my classmates are working now in the non-profit sector. Can a school or a bunch of teachers really push you subconsciously in a certain direction?

If I compare my education with the education of today there's already a big difference. And if my parents saw my education, they were also surprised by the big changes in just a few years. The year after I was graduated there was a new study, the study of humanities. As we have seen before I think that's the evidence of the 'third view'. The feelings and movements of people became more and more important and that was also visible in school. There even was a student group for the interests of the students. Students could vote who would join the group. These students could discuss public issues and organize things in school. It is even possible to do your last year over in another country. Actually I think that's amazing. I never did it, but if I had the chance to do it, I would! It's a great experience that you'll never forget.

In my bachelor education I went to the Netherlands for six months. It was a well considered choice, because in all our courses we heard that in the Netherlands they are socially beyond us. The social sector is more developed than here in Belgium. So because of my future I made the choice to work over there. Nowadays, during interviews, I still hear it's an advantage that I made that choice. Erasmus is not only important for learning more about the work, but most of all learning more about you. It's a journey where you learn more about surviving, standing up for yourself, being critical and more independent.

In my teacher training I also learned that when you teach, everything has to come from the students. It's not the task of the teacher to talk the whole time, it's the task to lead the students in the right direction.

It's not a surprise to see how school has changed the last years. It's very logical that everything changes after seeing what's happening and needed in other countries. As the world is growing smaller, more and more people want to travel and work all over the world. Because of that it's very important that the degrees are recognized everywhere. It's necessary that when you get your degree in Belgium, it's also valid in other countries.

It's interesting to see how many organizations are involved in education. As a teacher you often only see what's happening in the classroom or inside the school, but everything around it is actually invisible. School is more than just a teacher, some students, a blackboard and some books. It really is a business.