Effects of Globalisation in Education Essay

Modified: 26th Nov 2018
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Globalisation has brought about many changes in human lives. Globalisation, which started off in the West, was brought about by many factors. Some of it is the the emergence of the information technology and also the economic competition between different countries (Jarvis, 2007, p. 44). Here, it is obvious that globalisation was about the economic benefit at first and later had also impacted many others categories of human lives such as education and environment. The impacts and effects of globalisation could be seen everywhere, from the food industry to the music that one listens. Some would argue that globalisation benefitted the mass, and therefore it is something good. However, some would refute by saying that globalisation has also had some negative impacts. Therefore, I would like to find out and discuss the effects of globalisation specifically in education. This paper would examine closely the effects of globalisation in education in terms of commodification, internationalisation, citizenship and also accessibility of knowledge. This essay would argue that although globalisation brings some positive effects, it also brings some negative effects that sometimes could be considered to outweigh the benefits of it. The arguments will be put forward by first defining globalisation and then highlighting some of the different types of globalisation. This will be followed by discussing the impact of globalisation in education in terms of commodification, internationalisation, citizenship, and accessibility of knowledge. Last but not least, this essay will discuss the implications for teachers in a Malaysian secondary school classroom.

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Definition of Globalisation

There are tremendous amount of literature on the definition of globalisation. Globalisation seemed to an easy word to define at first. However, there are many definitions of it where each and one of these definitions are looked from various different perspectives such as social, economy and political perspectives. From an political point of view, Beck (2000, p. 11) defines globalisation as a process through which transnational actors undermine sovereign national states with varying prospect of power, direction, identities, and network. From a communication point of view, ‘globalisation as a concept refers to both to the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole’ (Robertson, 1992, p. 8). Similarly, Luke (2005), stated that globalisation is how the world is shrinking in the sense that people can communicate to each other instantaneously through the use of technology especially the internet. On a different plane, Waters (1995, p. 3) looks at globalisation as a social change where physical boundaries of place on the social and cultural aspects are diminishing and the public are aware that it is diminishing. Looking from a social perspectives or point of view, globalisation is the escalation of global social relations which connect far localities in such a way that local events are influenced by events occurring in the far distance and vice versa. (Held, 1991 cited in Morrow & Torres, 2000, p. 29). Therefore, it can said that globalisation is the weakening of the physical boundaries surrounding the nation or states, in which affects aspects of human life such as culture, social interaction, economy, politics and many other aspects. The less visible boundaries mean that people are more likely to interact with each other. If the interaction is between people or party of same position or status, the interaction could be in a neutral way. However, if the interaction is between people or party of unequal status or power, the more privileged will tend to influence the less privileged it can also happen that the less privileged might want to imitate the more privileged in order to live the same condition as the opposite party.

When looking at the definitions of globalisation, it is important to also highlight the different types of globalisation. Here, cultural, economy and political globalisation will be discussed closely.

Cultural globalisation is about the spread of one stronger element of culture, which in many cases, would be the American culture. This is done through the American media which penetrates most parts of world. Songs, films, and many more are easily available around the world (Jarvis, 2007). Besides, he also argues that many new cultural institutions have become industries where these institutions are trying to sell their culture. However, one would argue that cultural globalisation could also strengthen the culture in particular society if the member of the society choose to resist the wave of global influx of different foreign culture. According to Jones (1998, p. 146), cultural globalisation includes ‘deteriorating religious mosaic, a deteriorating cosmopolitanism and diversity, widespread consumption of simulations and representations, global distribution of images and information and universal tourism’. Therefore, it can be said that cultural globalisation is the process where the local cultural aspect of a community disappears in certain rate and substituted with a global culture.

On the other hand, economy globalisation includes several aspects such as transnational companies. Transnational companies are companies that operate at a global level without needing to follow a certain nation’s law and regulation (Bottery, 2006). These companies bring profit to the nation through taxation. These companies possess a huge influence as they are not bound to a country’s law. Transnational companies have power beyond the nations or the states (Jarvis, 1998). Besides, economy globalisation also includes the bigger organisations such as International Monetary Fund (IMF) which provides loan and fund to developing countries. However, it is crucial to highlight here that this economy globalisaton is the setting of other types of globalisation (Bottery, 2006). This is because economy is the source of income and the setting of work for people. According to Jones (1998, p. 145), economy globalisation includes ‘freedom of exchange between localities with flows of services and symbolic commodities, balance of production activity in a locality determined by its physical and geographical advantages, minimal direct foreign investment, flexible responsiveness of organisations to global markets, decentralised, instantaneous and ‘stateless’ financial markets and free movement of labour’.

Political globalisation looks at the diminishing power of the state where due to globalisation, the power is local authority might be weakening. According to Jones (1998 p. 146), political globalisation is portrayed through ‘an absence of state sovereignty and multiple centres of power at global, local and intermediate levels, local issues discussed and situated in relation to a global community, powerful international organisations predominant over national organisations, fluid and multi-centric international relations, a weakening of value attached to the nation-state and a strengthening of common and global political values’. Thus, the meaning of being a certain country or nation’s citizen also gets blurred. The notion of citizen is not as a unified and unifying concept as before when there is certain loss of nation-state sovereignty, or the erosion of national autonomy (Burbules and Torres, 2000, p. 14).

The Effect of Globalisation in Education

Having looked at the brief categorization of globalisation in general, this section will focus on the effect of globalisation in education. This section will look at commodification, internationalisation, citizenship and accessibility of knowledge.

Commodification is the term used to describe commodification can be seen in two ways, the displacement of use values by exchange values or in general to describe how consumer culture becomes embedded in daily lives through various ways (Ball, 2004, p.4). This consumer culture that is a global phenomenon today has also affected the education sector. Commodification of education is evident from the primary school to the higher education. Many are affected by, especially the parents and the students. Due to the competition for the entrance of an excellent school, parents and the learner will be under a lot of pressure to prepare themselves so they can qualify to this prestigious or high-league table-ranked schools. The society without noticing is drawn to this concept of education commodification due to the societal pressure. Similarly, the teachers and staff in these schools are forced to work hard to maintain the schools’ league table position so they can maintain the financial support from the government. ‘The demands of competition, the information provided by League Tables, pressures from the state for performance improvement and target-achievement and per-capita funding, in a period of spending constraints, work together to create local ‘economies of student worth’ where schools compete to recruit those students, most likely to contribute to ‘improvements’ and ‘performance’ (Ball, 2004, p. 10). Therefore, in this situation the commodification of education does not really seem to benefitting the learners, or the even parents. This cycle of incentives for performance is not something good as it contradicts with the value of education.

Due to globalisation, the power of sovereign has been reduced. Instead, there is a new concept of citizenship emerging (Capella, 2000).Capella argues that in light of globalisation, citizenship has run away from ‘private sphere’ and is more open. Besides, democracy is also a sign of the reduced function of citizenship. This has also an effect in education where the introduction of module and courses on being a global citizen. These courses also echo the concept of democracy.

.Another effect of globalisation is the internationalization of education. Internationalisation is ‘the process of intergrating an international or intercultural dimension into the teaching, research and exercise function of the institution (Knight, 1994, p. 16 cited in Knight, 1999). Internationalisation is about globalisation. Internationalisation happens usually at higher level education. There are many reasons for the internationalisation of the higher education. One of it is the internationalisation will help foreign policy of a country. Through internationalisation, a country will be perceived as welcoming and friendly to the different cultural aspects. In other words, internationalisation will indicate that the country appreciates the various cultures that exist are open to accepting them. On an economic point of view, internationalisation will help attract investment from foreign countries to a country. This will boost the country’s economy through the investments (Knight, 1999).

By internationalisation, the quality of teaching and learning process could be improved. This is because internationalisation encourages acceptance of various culture and integrates this in the teaching and learning process. The students will be exposed to various source of knowledge about the world. This knowledge of the world will help the learners to understand and make sense the difference and similarities people around the world have from one culture to another. Besides, internationalisation will also encourage partnership between various universities around the world. This is because through internationalization, one common medium of interaction will be chosen between the cooperating universities, which will likely to be English. Having a common language and some similarities will further encourage cooperation work between universities from different countries.

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Another effect of globalisation in education is that the accessibility of knowledge. Through the internet, many different kind of knowledge are readily accessible on the internet (Robertson, 1992). This means the acquisition of knowledge by students are much faster since there they have wide range of knowledge available for them. This would help students and teachers in their learning process. This rapidly growing information on the net could facilitate learning process by providing references and validating certain concepts that the learners are confused or unable to comprehend. Besides, the teachers and learners can build a network system through the net where they can talk and communicate with teachers and students from any part of the world through the internet. This would help teachers and learners to create a global view of education n based on their communication with people from around the world. However, this might also be a problem for the students since with the huge amount of information available on the net, the reliability of some of the information is sometimes questionable. Therefore, it is important for the learners to be able to distinguish between reliable and unreliable information. Besides, it is also important for them to be able to choose and pick which information that is suitable for them.

The downside of this body of knowledge available on the internet is that it cannot be accessed by people in certain parts of the world where the communication technology is not at par with the latest communication technology (Burbules, 2000). This in a way widens the gap between the education progress in a developed country with a well-equipped information technology facilities and the education progress in a developing country with poor information technology facilities. In a less progressed country where it is already a struggle to maintain teaching and learning process, the people will not know what they have missed by the lack of facilities.

Another aspect of the manifestation of the accessibility information is the distance learning (Foley, 2003). Distance learning is the teaching and learning process which does not happen in a physical classroom, but instead happens in a virtual classroom. This distance learning was already available before the existence of the internet through the use of post. However, the invention of the internet has taken distance learning into a whole new level. Distance education has enabled more people to gain access to education through the many different types of online courses offered by universities and other online course providers. One of the benefits of this distance learning is that the learning process can be done in learners’ own time, without any peer pressure form classmates. However, the drawback of distance learning is that the reduced or loss of the human touch in the learning and teaching process. Human touch in the form of communication with one another is important in learning.

Implications to Teaching and Learning Process in a Malaysian Secondary Classroom.

Having discussed the impact of globalisation in education on a global level, tis section will try to relate back the impact of globalisation in education in a Malaysian context, specifically in a Malaysian secondary classroom. Malaysian secondary classroom consist of students for the age of thirteen to seventeen. These students come from various backgrounds.

First and foremost, one of the main implications the effect of globalisation in a Malaysian context is the teachers and students should be aware of the effect of globalisation in education to the Malaysian education system and also to the global education policy and reforms. Here, the teacher training college plays a crucial part in incorporating the effect of globalisation in education to the teacher trainees. This is so that future teachers will be aware of the effects of globalisation and then try to inform the students and then create awareness in the students. Besides, it also a teacher’s responsibility to make the learners aware of the multi dimension of globalisation that exist beyond Malaysia. This will help the learners to be able develop critical thinking based on their awareness of the world around them. Furthermore, the appreciation of unique multicultural society that exists around the world, not only in Malaysia should be made known to the learners. On a similar note, it is important to realise that a teaching method or education policy that is a success in one environment is not necessarily can be taken and put it into another context. This might not work as the context is as important as the policy itself.

Another implication that can be drawn from the discussion above is that it is important to realize that the abundance of information and knowledge available on the internet comes with a price as well. The implication of these to the Malaysian education especially in a secondary classroom is that the learners should be equipped with the necessary skill to filter the knowledge and then distinguish between facts and non-facts. In order to do this, the teachers should give some exposure of this kind of activity in the classroom. This will help learners, the secondary school students to be able to pick and choose the fact from the rest. Besides, it is also important to be able to pick the information which is useful for the individual rather than using all the information available.


Globalisation is a powerful process that has influenced many aspects ranging from education to politics and economy. Even in the field of education, globalisation has touched and influenced many parts of education. The internationalisation, the distance learning, the new form of citizenship and commodification are the examples of the endless effect of globalisation in education. On the surface all these seem to be having a positive effect on the education section. However, upon detailed scrutiny of these impacts on teachers, educators and learners in particular, it is evident that globalisation can also negatively impact the learners, teachers and educators. The crucial question here is whether these negative effects outweigh the positive or vice versa. Besides, another thought provoking question is whether the advantages of globalisation is worth fighting for. Therefore, a future teacher who would be directly in the education system facing all this kind of situation should be aware of the impact of globalisation in education and are able make conscious decision about it.


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