The Marketized Education

It results in nothing short of transforming scholars into commodities

Tuesday Take

DR HAMEEDAH NAYEEM

Under the impact of globalization, post 1980s saw  the  rise  and intermixing of  a new religious  and economic fundamentalism as the market became God. As part of creating this ‘Total  Market’  higher education was   reconceptualised   to more closely embody market values.  Educational institutions were meant to turn students into functioning adults  who are able to navigate through market  successfully. Marketized education results in nothing short of transforming scholars into commodities. As part of this process, students are described as ‘human resource’. Like the production cycle of a factory, students are viewed as raw material that once processed by the educational system become high- priced  products   to be traded within the  system of exchange. What this means in reality is that  all disciplines are in a desperate search   for an economic  niche  to monopolize, so that they can advertise  themselves as  offering  marketable skills  to students.  Universities whose mission was to  foster the ideals  of humanities  and cultivation of   an integrated  personality with  ethical values, began to act more  like high –tech –vocational  programmes . In this way students are made into commodities since the acquisition of education takes place  in order to increase  their saleability  and purchase value. What is wrong in this is that student development is framed in economic terms. Skills that increase students’ performativity are privileged while those that are not, are subordinated, marginalized and done away with. Market-oriented education thus  greatly minimizes the freedom, control and quality of persons’ action  with respect to  their present social conditions  as it produces  alienation  wherein humans are estranged  from their environment  and controlled by products of their own activity  that falsely appear  autonomous. Besides its adverse effects on social security, social welfare, local industries, local economies, it strikes at the very roots of the distinct cultural identities of nations and societies  as  globalised   market education leads to cultural homogenization. Each nation or society has its  distinct cultural identity. ( Although  no  culture is a stable  constant  but in a slow process of changeless change.) Yet globalization forcibly bulldozes away  the cultures of developing countries  to impose a ‘monoculture’ in euphemistic  terms. In plain terms it is Euro-American  cultural imperialism  besides economic and political  domination.
Secondly, its unchecked onward march will signal the death–knell of human values  as its pursuit  of  quick and blind growth  hardly respects  human rights and values like equality, justice  and many usable freedoms.
Thirdly, it has eroded democracies   by considerably increasing the wealth of  Multinational  Corporations, who have been interfering with  and even controlling the  economic politics and policies of developing  countries.
Fourthly, increasing  globalization has led to the objectification   and   commodification of women, and whatever gains had been made by feminist movements  have been and are under threat of  being diluted or negated  because the interests and concerns of marginalized women  have been seriously ignored.
Fifthly, unbridled   and blind march of capitalism and its concomitant competition  for economic development  is destroying the environment. Everywhere.  Pristine natural resorts  and forests are being vandalized  by establishing big industries. Needless to say that human life can sustain only as long as our natural  environs and forests last.
What is the way out of this situation? Are there precedents in the past that could guide us in the present? If we cast a glance at the past two hundred years  history of  Indian Subcontinent , we find in 19th century  a  great  challenge   presented itself that  called for radical alterations  in the way we make sense of reality. This necessitated reconceptualization of education so as to effect deep structural changes in the society. This was the challenge of making a transition from medievalism to modernism. Two great  visionary educationists emerged   at  the time who are scaffolded  at the point of intersection between  medievalism and modernization. These are Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Both guided the Indians in general and their respective communities in particular in their march  to modern sensibility   without discarding their own tradition. One lived in the first half and another in the second half of 19th century. They had great admiration for the traditional philosophic tradition of the East  but felt at the same time  that modern Western culture alone could rejuvenate Indian society.  Ram Mohan Roy took upon himself the task of cleansing Hindu tradition of all the impurities in which it was shrouded at the time and offered monotheistic doctrine  after reinterpreting Vedas and Upanishads  to bring Hinduism closer to rational thought of the West.
Sir Syed felt that the future of Indians in general and Muslims in particular was threatened by the rigidity of their orthodox outlook. His mission too became  the reinterpretation of  Muslim ideology  and a modernist commentary on Holy Quran  so as to reconcile tradition with Western education and Science. He argued in several books on Islam that The Book rested on a deep appreciation of reason and natural law and therefore, did not preclude Muslim involvement in scientific methodology. Both formed scientific  societies  and Vedanta college and Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental college  respectively to incorporate a synthesis of Eastern and Western education for generations of students to imbibe. Such educational movements eventually  prepared   the  Indian society  to embrace modernization while strongly rooted in their tradition. Today if there are backward communities , they are there precisely because they did not take the clue from  the great visionary educationists.
The problem then was of making people understand the importance  of Western education of science and technology  and today the problem is of stopping the blind, aggressive  and valueless march of globalization  in our educational institutions. Globalization is, in fact, coterminous with modernization and has reached now a dangerous advanced stage  that if we do not re-conceptualise   higher education along human, philosophical and ethical and cultural lines, and preserve our local   and  Eastern  cultural identity, we are bound to  be rendered into rootless automatons sooner than later devoid of all that  glorifies human life!
Feedback at hbano@kashmiruniversity.ac.in

Lastupdate on : Mon, 12 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 12 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 13 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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