The Marketized Education
It results in nothing short of transforming scholars into commodities
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!
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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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