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February 05, 2006
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February 05, 2006

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Home > 2006 Issues > February 05, 2006

Impact of globalisation on education
By Dr Pradip Narayan Maske

Globalisation entails faster movement of ideas. It is not merely movement of goods, services and capital across border. Education had never been a commodity of trade in India. The state or people provided physical and financial support to the educational institutions as it benefitted the ruling class and people sought moral, ethical and intellectual guidance from the temples of learning. The edifice of higher education during the colonial rule directly aimed at catering to the commercial needs of the British empire. In 1947, India inherited the colonial civil service, education system and parliamentary model of democracy from Britain. The education system continues to thrive on the western model. The developed countries are attempting to obliterate the local identities based on their self-serving definition of globalisation. In fact, globalisation entails recognition and celebration of identities, culture and values across borders. Education has turned out to be a commodity of international trade. It is no more a public good on domestic scale, but a private good on global scale.

It is the constitutional obligation of the state to provide free and compulsory education to children below the age of six years. Article 46 states that the state shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people.

Need for social conscience

In India, right to education is equated with right to basic education. Article 41 under the Directive Principles of the State Policy under Part-IV of Constitution of India provides that the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing right to work, to education and to public assistance. Under Article 45, it is the constitutional obligation of the State to provide free and compulsory education to children below the age of six years. Article 46 states that the state shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people. The above stated principles are fundamental in the governance of the country. Government of India has decided to amend the Constitution to provide reservations for weaker sections of people in the private educational institutions, excluding the minority educational institutions. The religious and linguistic minority institution must also shoulder the responsibility of reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Under the provision of the Constitution of India, education is in the concurrent list, where the Union Government and state governments share joint responsibility. The state legislatures have to decide about the reservation quotas for schedule castes and schedule tribes in the country. The private education including the minority institutions needs to be injected with ?social conscience? about the local or other communities.

There are 306 university-level institutions in India with 8.8 million enrolment of students and over 0.4 million teachers. The politicians have suggested that the higher education institutions should raise their own resources through fee hike or cost must be borne by the user/student. Merely six per cent of the population in the age group of 17-23 is pursuing higher education. It is woefully less as compared to the US, Europe and some of the East Asian countries. The education investment in the Europe and China is viewed as investment for national reconstruction, whereas in the US, to some extent it is considered for enhancement of personal benefits of an individual. The expenditure on education has increased from 0.64 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product in 1951-52 to 3.98 per cent in 2002-03. The share of planned resources on higher education has gone down from 1.24 per cent in 1969-74 to 0.35 per cent in 1992-97. The public investment on education must revolve around six per cent of Gross Domestic Product in the country.

The investment on education has become even more important in the era of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation. The privatisation of education caters to well-to-do section of the society, which compared to developed countries, constitute a major market for foreign service providers. Nonetheless, the investment on creation of infrastructure for education becomes more crucial to boost export earnings. More and more students from war-afflicted Afghanistan are coming to India to receive education. Indian education, according to Afghanistan?s diplomat Masood Khalili, will produce a professional army? without guns. India is emerging as the cheapest tourist, healthcare and information technology destination of the world. The decline in public funding to education would attract the private or foreign service providers to exploit the market, which would spell disaster for developing countries.

Education as a commodity of trade

The international transactions in services are defined as the economic output of intangible commodities that may be produced, transferred and consumed at the same time. Traditionally services are viewed as domestic activities due to direct contact between producer and consumer and government monopoly in infrastructure sector. The computerisation and digitisation of wide range of services has altered this perception. The ascent of information and communication technology has given rise to e-commerce, e-banking, e-learning, e-medicine and e-governance. So, it is argued that government finds it increasingly difficult to cope up with technology-driven activities.

The objective of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is to liberate economy and not to regulate it. It tries to achieve a higher level of liberalisation through reduction or elimination of adverse effects on trade in services as a means to provide effective market access. The GATS defines four ways in which services can be traded? (i) cross-border supply; (ii) consumption abroad; (iii) commercial presence; and (iv) movement of national persons, respectively. The education service, include? primary education, secondary education, post-secondary education, adult education and higher education and training such as for sports. It is believed that the trade in services would lead to technology transfer, rekindle product and process innovation, usher in development, improve economic performance, and lead to consumption savings. The trade tribunal of the WTO, however, would decide whether an education policy is a trade issue or not. Joseph Stiglitz argues, that ?the US as the strongest country in the world pushes a particular view of the role of the state through international economic institutions? the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank? (Stiglitz 2004: xxviii).

The politicians have suggested that the higher education institutions should raise their own resources through fee hike or cost must be borne by the students. Merely six per cent of the population in the age group of 17-23 is pursuing higher education. It is woefully less as compared to the US.

Lop-sided market access in education services

The US stated in its communication to Council for Trade in Services, December12, 2000, that education to a large extent is a government function, but most countries permit private education to co-exist with public education. The proposal, therefore, envisions that private education and training will continue to support, not displace public education. The US is attempting to clear the deck for foreign entities and export of education services in the developing countries. The developed countries are selective in offering concessions in education services.

India, alongwith other developing countries is adopting strategy to obtain access for cross-border supply (outsourcing of services) and movement of natural persons. But, the least commitments are offered by the US and the Europe. The proportion of full-market commitment for commercial presence by the US and the European countries is as high as 68 to 77 per cent and presence of natural persons is four to seven per cent. The share of services of developing countries is 20 per cent even when their membership is 90 per cent.

The GATS states that the negotiations shall take place with a view to promote the interest of participants on a mutually advantageous basis and with due respect for national policy objectives and the level of development of individual member. The poorest of 32 countries managed to get duty-free and quota-free market access after strong pressure at WTO?s sixth Ministerial Conference held in Hong Kong in December 13-18, 2005. Pascal Lamy, Director-General of WTO stated that the member countries, in services, have an agreed text that points positively to the way forward.

Adverse impact on social harmony

There is growth in distance learning, networking of institutions, industry linkages, franchise agreements and non-university programmes in the age of information technology. About 150 foreign universities are operating in India and majority of them are lesser known in their home countries. The state-of-the art facilities provided by the foreign universities, glamour of alien certification, contractual faculty, loan facilities on full-cost and full-profit basis will lead to exploitation of student/user. The foreign service providers would not take care of the student recruitment and placement services in the host countries. The burden will lie on the host countries. Quality is the function of value addition. The profit-oriented foreign service providers would not ensure quality, per se. The international degree certification would lead to degree-mill or e-learning culture without ensuring quality. The market access for foreign education service providers would create adverse impact on culture, value system and social harmony. According to Asbjor Eide, a Norwegian expert on human rights, ?there are serious risks that once privatised, services international will opt for the solutions that are most profitable and forget about vulnerable sections of the population given that privately-run services are not subject to same democratic controls as public services? (

(The author is Reader, Department of Political Science, G.V.M?s G.G.P.R. College of Commerce and Economics, Ponda, Goa, 403401 (

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