At the core of any discussion on the themes of globalization is education. The graduates or products of the institutions of learning, whether public or private, become responsible in carrying out research and development (R & D) in the world systems – information and communication, science and technology, environment, economy, politics, intercultural understanding and cooperation. As such, academic institutions at all levels are responsible primarily in education that teaches the skills, knowledge, and technology of the current century.
However, the characteristics of global education are quite varied although the basic elements are common to educators. Globalization, at the same time is a promise of interrelationships; it is also foreshadowing possible threats and risks. The challenges are many and costly depending on its relevance and on the priority needs of the country. Gaps within the different countries vary – some wider as it is between the developed countries and the developing ones; others are narrower among countries of the same categories. Nonetheless, one thing is certain in the uncertainties of the future of globalization.
Global education as an inevitable consequence of globalization will have its micro and macro level characteristics, it is promising as well as threatening, its challenges are posed to the institutions of learning, and considerable gaps will continue to exist among nations. Global education has been defined in various ways but the commonalities and character are more or less explicit. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) in their 1991 Yearbook defined it as (Philosophy and Definition n. d. ):
Global education involves learning about those problems and issues which cut across national boundaries and about the interconnectedness of systems – cultural, ecological, economic, political, and technological. Global education also involves learning to understand and appreciate our neighbors who have different cultural backgrounds from ours; to see the world through the eyes and minds of others; and to realize that other people of the world need and want much the same things. J. Michael Adams, during his stint as president of Fairleigh Dickinson University (2004) gave his insight on what global education is and he said:
It is an education that ensures that students will be able to succeed in a world marked by interdependence, diversity and rapid change…one that provides knowledge and understanding of cultures, languages, geography and global perspectives. Most importantly, global education is one that enables students to understand their roles in a global community and teaches them how their actions can affect citizens throughout the world…that it demonstrates how events around the world can affect students in their own lives and therefore cannot be ignored.
Scripps College (Strategy Two: Globalization n. d. ) looks at globalization as a complex and multidimensional phenomenon entailing both opportunities and risks for all the inhabitants of our planet, and it will provide its students with the conceptual tools, adaptive skills, and experiences necessary for fulfilling lives in an interconnected world characterized by rapid transformation and uncertainty. From these open-minded definitions, we are brought to a close of what global education can mean. It is dynamic because it is a process and it is not coming to a halt.
It is about the interrelatedness, interconnectedness, and interdependence/cooperation of the people and nations of the world as one belonging to the global community/village that is constantly influenced by the rapid changes brought about by science and technology and man’s exploitation of the earth’s resources. It is altogether addressing the concerns of each and every nation such as poverty. It is a striving to understand each other’s differences, live in peace in diversity, while taking the subjective view of things from other cultures’ perceptions.
It is educating the students and the young in general in the competitive skills to become aware of citizenship both at the local and at the world level and to be able to acquire the necessary tools as a survival kit. Globalization, while it poses opportunities and promises, are not bereft of the risks and dangers that simultaneously comes along with the numerous uncertainties brought about by it. Through the interrelatedness among nations, peoples, economies, and cultures, ideas and innovations are swiftly shared.
Education is shared through various forms of exchanges around the globe. However, on the other hand, the risks of globalization cannot be underestimated. J. Michael Adams (2004) shares his opinion on the mutual dependencies of nations yet apprehensive that the useful outcomes of globalization are not mutually shared. Furthermore, borderlessness, which is a characteristic of globalization, can cause the increase of threats to mankind like ruin to the environment, the speedy spreading of contagious diseases, and violence in terrorism.
To cite an example is the nagging problem where to dump and how to manage the devastating unimaginable volumes of garbage all over the continents and more so in the long run. In the case of pandemic diseases such as the current AH1N1 or commonly called the “swine flu” went “global” in no time at all because of the profusion of travels. Moreover, terrorism in different degrees occurs in many parts of the world. Globalization is in itself a challenge to every citizen of the world. Illiteracy has no place in globalization; it is in fact opposed to globalization.
Science and technology, the cyberspace, and the information generation do not make meaning to the unschooled and neither do they benefit from it. Then, it is not just the unschooled that will be misplaced but including those students who will not strive, through their competent teachers and schools, to acquire the necessary skills to cope or adapt or survive in the borderless society. This brings us to the burden of responsibilities of the learning institutions charged with the (global) education of the young.
Because of the uncertainties in globalization, the latter creates challenges that must be intellectually addressed by the academic community. For one, countries have been categorized as Developed Countries and Developing or Underdeveloped, First World and Third World. The discussion in Philosophy and Definition (n. d. ) is a very good starting point. First, the concept of global education is an initiative proposed from the end of the United States and the other developed countries in the Euro-West.
As such it comes almost naturally to them as a matter of a natural course of action in the “shrinking of the world” as a global village. Different institutions have a range of approaches to global education. Take the case of the University of California Approaching the 21st Century (n. d. ) as it addresses a range of issues with appropriate and corresponding initiatives. The issues, specifically referring to inculcate to the undergraduate students address cultural diversity, skills needed in the continuing sophistication of technology, research, collaborations, and the finance to distribute for sharing the knowledge.
These issues are pointing to some of the perceived aims of globalization – to learn to accept and live in coexistence in harmony with a wide variety of people of different cultures and races; to learn the lifelong skills to competitively make a living in this technologically-driven era; to further encourage research to dynamically cope with changes and development; that any effort geared at globalization is every citizen’s look out not just in the community but in the community of nations; and whatever knowledge gained must be shared.
The case of Scripps College “Strategies and Initiatives” (n. d. ) is similarly facing the challenges by preparing its (all women) students for tomorrow’s globalization. Accordingly, it aims to understand the complexities of globalization and to be approached across the disciplines by considering such things as broadening the curriculum in a particular discipline while incorporating the issues of globalization. Scripps emphasizes of women issues and their active participation in all spheres of the society.
To adapt to the rapid changes taking place, giant companies like Cisco, Intel and Microsoft (January 2009) make a resounding call for the private sectors to join hands with the public institutions because even governments are facing reduction in resources. Collaborating, the three companies spearhead the assessment research and development by assessing globally the outcomes of the skills of the students to enable them to join or qualify in the future workforce.
From the same source, it is gathered that “In the global economy, it is the world’s best performing education systems, not simply improvement by national standards that have become the yardstick for educational success. ” As countries take steps in approaching global education, gaps are created in the process. Third World countries, when it comes to the issue of global education, they are in a quandary between their domestic concerns as stipulated in their respective philosophies of education and quite the comparison, what is called for in global education.
There is no doubt that the developing countries understand the concepts of global education and its accompanying elements. However, Third World countries in spite of their awareness of the existence of the movements in many countries, they are preoccupied with their priorities taking into consideration their own relevant needs at the domestic level such as nation-building. Necessarily, they log behind the First World. Secondly, finances to address globalization are an important matter that Third World countries are not able to cope with competitively.
For instance, the report of the Research Universities UNESCO Forum on Higher Education, Research and Knowledge (2006) presents statistics that explains financial constraints responsible for the considerable gaps. Developed countries on average spend 2. 5 percent of the gross domestic product on R & D. While India allocates 1. 2 percent; Brazil, 0. 91 percent; China, 0. 69 percent, most developing nations devote less than 0. 5 percent of GDP to research and development.
The figures, quite representative of the Third World, imply many things to global education in the context of developing nations. While developed countries excel in R & D, developing countries lag too far behind. How to close these gaps is an effort to address such as the position advanced earlier by Cisco, Intel and Microsoft (2009). Much coping has to be undertaken by the developing countries while simultaneously addressing their own domestic priorities.
Thirdly, Tony Wagner in his “The Global Achievement Gap” (2008) observes (supported by statistics) that “even our best schools don’t teach the new survival skills our children need…” and that “generally school educators do not have a sense of urgency of change because they are being busy attempting to increase the number of standardized tests and lose vision for the change. ” Under what he believes is the present unfortunate scenario in the educational system, he has proposed what he calls the seven survival strategies to close the gaps or remove the “educational obstacles.
” Addressing the achievement gap he is referring to, Wagner cited samples of schools that teach hands-on and project-based learnings where students “think, plan, organize, and work in a team” while teachers act as classroom facilitators and coaches only. More than ever, the present time attests to the common saying that the only thing constant in this world is change. Every forthcoming change is almost uncertain. The educational system, entrusted with the knowledge and skills acquisition of the young must be keen to the clues of the changes in the environment from which the philosophies of education are culled.
A very important component thus, of the learning system in addition to critical and analytical thinking, is problem-solving. Equipped with problem-solving tools along with the basics of education, the future citizenry are well prepared for any changes and uncertainties. Underlying all these efforts is a sure move towards the ideal in globalization that is, peaceful and positively developing the world without compromising nature while carefully addressing terrorism on the other through active intercultural understanding.
The challenges of the uncertain future must be the shared responsibility of the public and private sector because every citizen’s being will be affected by the changes brought about by globalization. Gaps must not widen through the concerted effort of the haves and the have-nots. As globalization must go on beyond anyone or any nation’s control, every individual has a stake in it. Globalization is a promise of a better world although the risks may be dangerous to mankind if not averted; the challenges are high and costly but the world can make it work through cooperation; gaps can be narrowed through generous sharing.
Works Cited Adams, J. Michael. “What is Global Education? ” Farleigh Dickinson University President’s Update. 7 October 2004. 21 June 2009. <http://www. fdu. edu/newpubs/presupdates/041007. html> “Cisco, Intel and Microsoft Lead Collaboration to Improve Global Education Assessments. ” Learning and Technology World Forum. 12-14 January 2009. 21 June 2009. <http://www. latwf. org/latest_news-3. html> “Philosophy and Definition. ” Issues in Global Education – Global Education: A Worldwide Movement, Newsletter of the American Forum for Global Education. n. d. 21 June 2009. <http://www. globaled. org/issues/150/c. html>
Scripps College: Globalization. Strategies and Initiatives, Strategy Two: Globalization. 21 June 2009 <http://www. scrippscollege. edu/about/strategic-plan/globalization. php> “The University of California Approaching the 21st Century” n. d. 21 June 2009. <http://www. ucop. edu/ucophome/pres/WhitePaper/21stwp. html> “UNESCO Forum on Higher Education, Research and Knowledge: Universities as Centers of Research and Knowledge Creation: An Endangered Species ” United Nations University – Institute of Advanced Studies Research Universities in the 21st Century: Global Challenges and Local Implications.
29 November to 1 December 2006. 21 June 2009. <http://www. ias. unu. edu/sub_page. aspx? catID=35&ddIID=181> Wagner, Tony. “The Global Achievement Gap. ” Education Review. Rev. Brenda L. H. Marina and Hsiu-Lien Lu. 21 June 2009. 5 April 2009. <http://www. asu. edu/reviews/rev788. htm> Frost, Robert. North of Boston. 1915. Project Bartleby. Ed. Steven van Leeuwen. 1999. 29 October 1999 <http://www. bartleby. com/118/index. html>.