National Education vs International Education


Educating your people was one of the main prerogatives of governments. States preferred to teach students useful things – for the youngsters, and for themselves. This included certain perspectives on a state’s history, and politics. Today, these national perspectives are still around, but they are increasingly embedded into broader horizons. There is the Internet which is not particularly national, there are social networks, and there are media, transmitting global content.

This is not necessarily to the liking of more or less authoritarian governments. Both the Chinese and Russian ministers for education have published statements according to which the activities and effects of foreign teachers, readings, and programs are viewed with quite some degree of skepticism.

What’s your take on this? Should governments continue to define the content (and its limits) of curricula for schools and universities – especially in the sphere of global politics and their own history – or should they give up and accept the role of global influences.

– Prof. Dr. Klaus Segbers

, , , ,
  1. Alexei Voskressenski 2 weeks ago

    Educating people always was one of the main prerogatives of governments. However during recent decades private institutions of different kind and also NGO started to compete with the state in this field. Though in some of the countries these new centers of education cannot certainly compete in full scale with government system, they are now practically everywhere an important source to substantiate or refine national educating systems. Though the Chinese and Russian ministers for education have published statements according to which the activities of foreign teachers and programs are viewed with some degree of skepticism, China contrary to Russia has already a more advanced system of getting higher knowledge which includes even licencing foreign universities for full educational activities in China. Some of these institutions have already a history of a decade-long operation in China. China’s leap forward in university ratings is also obvious. Governments will continue to influence somehow or even define the content of curricula but if the system of education is closed from outside impulses or underwent a total control, the product of this system – a future citizen – is not able to argue, compare and defend his position. So, resisting global influences means reducing competitive edge of the country. My impression that in this field China is already much more open than the contemporary Russia and thus is more competitive and more successful globally.

    Share >
  2. Noah Toly 2 weeks ago

    When it comes to education, national and global perspectives are not locked into a zero-sum game. Nationalists often put this false choice at the center of our policy debates in order to frame the argument in advantageous ways, but we need not choose between educating students with national or global perspectives, and we need not choose between emphasizing national and global interests. Indeed, in a world that is likely permanently, even if contingently, interconnected, in a time when transportation and telecommunications technologies undergird real and meaningful interconnection regardless of policy decisions, and when global political economic and environmental realities reveal our entanglements with far-flung communities, education should train for citizenship, employment, and global responsibility — for integrating the interests of others into our own interests.

    Share >


  1. Li Xiaohong 2 weeks ago

    Education plays an important role in shaping the next generation, so it stands to reason that governments would want to a role in that. I think the question is not so much if we should have national education or globalised education, but rather how national education can teach global viewpoints and universal values.

    ReplyShare >
  2. sirous 2 weeks ago

    The internet is a tool of soft power, so is education and with institutes like British Council, Confucius Institute and Institute France all over the world spreading their language and values, i believe states should take higher control of their educational policies, as an Iranian, i’d rather learn everything about human rights in our own educational system rather than what the americans like to emphasise and hide on the internet

    ReplyShare >
    1. Dawid Kruger 2 weeks ago

      Is there not then the risk that the Iranian regime would use its eduction system to push its ultraconsertative and anti-semetic worldview on the next generation? Allowing this seems like a very bad idea.

      ReplyShare >
      1. worldklaus 1 week ago

        Just check out the countless satellite dishes on Teheran’s roofs. The revolutionary guards try for decades to get those removed, but they are not able to keep up with the speed they are re-erected. Many of the families I know in Iran have satellite TV, I acknowledge that the level of governmental intrusion in Iran is certainly on the high side, but still many of Teheran’s households get their information from the countless foreign Iranian TV stations.

        ReplyShare >
      2. Sirous Amerian 1 week ago

        the good thing about the digital age is that people can chose what to believe and learn and what to not, today the level of religiousness in Iran among the youth is at its lowest compared to when the Shah was in power and the emphasis on religious education was very low. the educational systems and the Internet are a double edged sword and can be used to harm or to educate. why just Iran, ultraconservatives and salafism has its routs in KSA and its ally, Pakistan, lets worry more about them.

        ReplyShare >
        1. worldklaus 7 days ago

          I agree, the Iranian Youth is mostly concerned with partying, than with religion. Just check out the visa free direct charter flights from Teheran to Antalya (Turkey), wow you guys know how to party! But that’s my point: national politics are not isolated anymore, with very view exceptions in the world. The power of the Mullahs will erode further in Iran, as the internet is a powerful tool for many to educate and inform themselves. In the future any national will be able to obtain any online degree from their university of choice world-wide.

          ReplyShare >
  3. Boyka Boneva 2 weeks ago

    With internet entering all the more our lives, education and methods of implementation get shaped not entirely by Governments policies and decisions. New methods and types of education (non-formal, informal, distant) also get more ground, thus the role of governments is more limited and individuals get to decide on their own choice.
    Through this mix of options, we are proceeding towards all the more globalised education process, which offers a wider point of view. As a result, even for the more authoritarian governments it becomes more difficult to impose their own narrative.
    So, instead of choosing between global and national education, we can look how to get the most/best out of both in order to avoid biased conclusions.

    ReplyShare >
  4. Arseniy Frolov 2 weeks ago

    Education is one of the key factors in shaping a citizen, therefore it would be sensless to say that the state should completely withdraw from this sphere, as it is it’s legit fuction and responsibility. An educational system should equip a citized with basic competences such as critical thinking and the ability to work with information (in our information-dominated age). Moreover, to my mind it would be reasonable for a state to teach a citizen about the history of the country he or she lives in, or rather about the historical and cultural identity the country strifes to build. We also should not forget about the inherent “asymmetry of information” between the state and the society, which has “thinned” but not dissaperaed completely in the age of the Internet. For example, the government have access to information about the future investments of the companies and has firmer grip over the labour market, hense it can give impetus and put accent on relevant spheres (the first schools in France were established to provide the factories with the appropriate workforce).

    But a state should restrain itself when we come to the knowledge beyond this baseline, as it is the domain of a scientific debate and discource, in which a state has no expertise or function. It cannot and should not define the conten of this discource and the result of the researches, as it will do no good to anybody and the science will only become distorted. Actually, this dialogue is the very place where new inventions are born, which later are included into the baseline defined by government.

    Globalization has opened the window of opportunity for many good scientists and helped the scientific dialogue to become truly global. And if we speak about the scientific discourse, it is a system where the bigger the number of actors – the more intense and qualitable the debate becomes. So the urge of a state to abridge this international scientific exchange is conterproductive.

    To sum up,the sphere of education is a constant dialogue between society and state. No changes should be introduced it this highly sophisticated sphere without an encompasing consenses.

    GSR Alumni 2015

    ReplyShare >
    1. Sonne 7 days ago

      Hello Arseniy,
      you talk about the fact that state should teach some basic history to students. And you already mention that this history is constructed. So whats the difference between that and basic propaganda and ideology? It does not have to be an issue though, maybe that’s what you see as a basic tasks for states. I’d just like some clarification.

      ReplyShare >
  5. Niloufar Omidi 2 weeks ago

    We are at the mercy of globalization and it is an undeniable trend in human cultural evolution. States should consider international issues in education of the next generation, while preserve domestic values. Children should be aware of international facts, and learn how to contribute to the world.
    If states overlook this fact, they will grow just an idiotic and biased generation. At first, governments may think that governing stupid people would be easy, but in the long term it is devastating, because that mindless generation will be the future governors and destroy everything. They can be a serious threat to their own country and also to the international community. So, it means that all things including even internal values would be completely demolished.

    ReplyShare >
  6. AW 2 weeks ago

    Education does not exist detached from national politics. For example, teaching history can limited and influenced by legislation concerning different genocides like it are the cases in Germany or France.
    I would not overestimate the impact of internet and globalization. There is no “truth” about history, but different framings and interpretations and most students are neither willing nore capable of comprehending several approaches and distilling facts from interpretations. Globalized education might expose them to such various framings and narratives, but the question remains, how much they really do absorb.
    Talking about education in China, I would only partially agree with Mr. Voskresensky. Yes, Chinese education is internationalized and yes, American universities do offer programms in China. This is not to say, that teachers and students are completely free and what they say and what they discuss. There are unwritten limitations, which nobody speaks about, but everybody knows them. Generally speaking, Chinese education is very internationalized when it comes to sciences and very national in subjects like political science or history.

    ReplyShare >
  7. worldklaus 1 week ago

    Nearly all economies are interconnected nowadays, there are very view examples of isolationist policies, as for example North Korea. Therefore, Governments have limited leverage over their economies, the same is true for their national educational policies. I also agree with “AW”, that there are certain areas where national education will dominate, but still there will be global influences. I am a fan of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), as for example Coursera, edX and similar. This is the beginning of an educational revolution in my opinion, and the fact that many established highly rated Universities explore this medium, indicates the power of internet based education for the future. We have to come to terms with the complex interconnectivity of major issues, as economy and education. Therefore, I agree with “Noah”, that the high level of interdependence between national and global education raises the complexity of the issue, way beyond the simple choice of one over the other.

    ReplyShare >
  8. Petra Jakovac 1 week ago

    Of course no country/government can deny global influence, also on its school curricula.
    But maybe the question is not sp much whether “governments should continue to define the content (and its limits) of curricula for schools and universities or should they give up and accept the role of global influences” but which (school) subject will be most changed and what will be the impact of this change on society?
    Globalisation won’t alter the contents of e.g. mathematics, physics, chemistry, languages will remain vital, but what will be the fate of subjects like e.g. geography or history?
    Which country’s history or geography shall be taught in future? Should it be the history/geography of the region? Or worldwide?
    What will be the impact on the cultural identity of a country when these subjects are subject to global influence. Will nations/people want to have a common cultural identity, a common history, a common territory in future? Shall pupils/students be taught their mothertongue, their individual scripts, their poetry in future? Is it a loss if e.g. an individual language or script gets lost because the language/script of another country is more common, popular or “more useful”? Is this a loss of culture and variety for our world or just another negligible language/culture death? How much influence do we have on these processes after all? Who decides on this? Governments? Globalisation? Economy? People themselves?
    It is very important not to demonise golobalisation. There is no way to undo it. It is important to interconnect globally. But I think you can only interconnect successfully with something/someone new if you have a firm base to start from, which would be your own (cultural) identity. If you do not know where you come from, how do you know where you are going to?
    The question is: what do we all together want our planet to look like in future. Uniform (culturally depleted) or diverse?

    ReplyShare >
  9. klaus 5 days ago

    some people above mention ‘the state’ as an agency contributing guidelines, comments, or whatever on historic issues. while there is no such an unitary agent as ‘the state’, there certainly are bureaucrats and elites, trying to shape and define historic narratives. the question is on what basis? do they command higher knowledge about history than others?
    while public schools probably should follow some guidelines, produces by regional or federal governments, this does not imply higher or better knowledge. may be competing narratives are a good thing for refining one’s own position.

    ReplyShare >
  10. A.S. Farzin 2 days ago

    As mentioned by others, in contemporary world – edge of internet – it is really difficult for the governments to keep locality not only in education but also in other aspects of the day to day life. As I see in my country, Afghanistan since the last decade a revolution has come in education system. The curriculum of the schools is provided by the government, but the private schools teach extra subjects named oxford system. These subjects are not recorded to the students marks but provide extra knowledge for them. Similarly the reference for university students for completing their assignments is google. It is therefore very much difficult for the governments to restrict the international education, at least in countries like Afghanistan.

    ReplyShare >

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Would you submit to radical populists?

What would be the likely outcome in the case that radical populists take over the executive power in a major Western country as the result of a relatively normal election? What would we do?

Turkey – a reliable (regional) partner in global conflicts?

Turkey, with the newly installed visa-free-regime, once again proved itself to be an important strategic partner for Europe in the current "migrant crisis". However Erdogan's help, a president who is increasingly imposing an authoritarian rule on his country, might come with the prize of one of the EU's fundamental principles: Liberal democracy. How will Europe react to increasing cuts on freedom of the press or the violent disputes with Kurdish groups, while trying to find a solution for refugee's from North Africa coming to Europe through one of Syria's neighboring states.

TTIP and TPP: Trade Pacts in Trouble

Under the radar of the big news items, fueled by the migration and Russia crises, populism and the threat of Brexit, terrorism and (once again) the Eurocrisis, another issue is emerging: trade.