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

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  1. Alexei Voskressenski 2 years 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.

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  2. Noah Toly 2 years 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.

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  1. Li Xiaohong 2 years 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.

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  2. sirous 2 years 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

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    1. Dawid Kruger 2 years 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.

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      1. worldklaus 2 years 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.

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      2. Sirous Amerian 2 years 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.

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        1. worldklaus 2 years 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.

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  3. Boyka Boneva 2 years 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.

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  4. Arseniy Frolov 2 years 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

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    1. Sonne 2 years 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.

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  5. Niloufar Omidi 2 years 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.

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  6. AW 2 years 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.

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  7. worldklaus 2 years 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.

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  8. Petra Jakovac 2 years 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?

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  9. klaus 2 years 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.

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  10. A.S. Farzin 2 years 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.

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  11. Eman 2 years ago

    With all the changes that have occurred in our lives, I think choosing between the national and international education would not be the best option. Globalization has changed our lives that it has become so hard to ignore the importance of including international perspectives in any country’s education system, especially that the student can reach all sources of information by himself whether it was though formal or informal ways.
    Governments do have a role of course. They should always work on creating curriculum that teaches a student the values, principles and the most important things about the country. At the same time, it should leave a space for the student to think on his own and in a wider dimension so that he could be aware of all things around him, and that’s when he will better defend himself and his ideas. In my point of view, limiting the content of the curricula by ignoring the international influence is a way to raise an ignorant generation with limited knowledge and that will not help in the development of the country nor the development of the student himself.
    Allowing students to benefit from a combined system of national and international education will build generations with deep knowledge about the world’s cultures, relations between countries, conflicts therefore a better understanding of the international system. Moreover, they will be able to participate more efficiently in a democratic society and in global communities.

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  12. Israa Sader 2 years ago

    States have always manipulated Education in the benefit of emphasizing their power. For example, through establishing certain historical narratives, promoting specific religious frameworks, locking access to certain fields of knowledge such as philosophy, or even by owning the decision of what languages its educated public has access to through its educative institutions. I believe governments' interests in shaping curricula will exist as long as they are interested in maintaining a rulership over a population of citizens and vice versa.

    The influence of globalization on the Educational institute brought by the Internet or other tools may be viewed with skepticism by governments but that doesn't necessarily mean it will provoke a response of increased censorship or of "giving up" to the influence. However, such tools will continue to be utilized by the states to ensure they play a positive effective role in further establishing the relationship between the governments and their people.

    That said, while Education could always be a tool of monopoly, the act of acquiring knowledge exists on a different dimension.

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  13. Sokunthy KOH 2 years ago

    I would like to contribute some of my points of view related to the question in the last paragraph, personally and in Cambodian context I would say that the government should be still given the privilege to centralize the curriculum for the pre-school up to K-12 education except the higher education. I come up with this position because I have three bases.

    Firstly, in the socio cultural context the post higher education curriculum is very significant for unifying and producing the good seed of citizens and human capital for a state with order. Of course good seed is hard to measure but to some extent the quality of education does not represent well. For instance, in 2014 under the education reform and strict examination policy the result of national grade 12 exam only 20 percent passed (go up to 40% after the second chance of exam for failed students) clearly reflects the low education quality.

    Secondly, the soico-political aspect through my observation, the level of social conscience from majority of people if not the whole citizen. Most of citizens are manipulated to be busy with their own interest or business rather than thinking about the national interest as a whole. Though there is vibrant peaceful participation from the post civil war generation in the political sphere but this participation does not base on the precise strategy and mechanism. It still remains the concerns for the democratization aspect.

    Thirdly, the education dynamically bridges the huge poverty gap in this country meaning existence of the equitable social development. Recently of course there is a rapid development in term of physical infrastructure and economy but the distribution of the development is not equitably to the majority of ordinary citizens let a lone a citizen as a whole. The 7 percent of GDP growth cannot correctly represent the remain mass poor households particularly in the countrysides.

    However, I am strongly believe that if the pre-higher education (curriculum) reform is seriously implemented with a real strong political will from the leadership, in the next twenty years or shorter period the three complicated issues will be strategically solved by the peaceful approach from the people and government itself.

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  14. Nhung Ho 2 years ago

    Nowadays, people become familiar with a term "globalization" that is process of interaction and intergration among the people, companies and goverments. This process has effects on not only economic development, political systems but also culture of which education is a part.
    International education is an indispensable trend that students can choose what school is better for them. Therefore, personally I think, we don't need to give up anything but should invest more in national education's quality so that we can develop our educational system too. Goverment can create the fair commpetitive environment to encourage national schools to learn from international ones. In regard to political education, national schools should teach students how to respect to their political system first. Then, they can explore more experiences from other countries and regions to apply for internal. Additionally, I would like to mention to one means of globalization_the Internet. We can access to global professor's studies, read the documents and update political status of other countries easily to have deeper understanding about global politics platform.
    In conclusion, both national and international education should be continued applying for students. However, goverment can priorize which one is more meaningful in each cases and types of students to make decision.

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  15. Hong Phuc Nguyen 11 months ago

    Well, in my point of view, education, specially curriculum, is ideological, political and contextual. History of educational reformations show that the reason for the changing in educational philosophy as well as the curricula, not really for knowledge. It is more about for the political purposes of the State in constructing new citizens with nessary qualities in accordance with certain political policies in new eras. It is inevitable, so to some extent, government should interfere and has orientations to national education in order to bring stability to society and to make the union of the nation. On the other hand, it will be negative if the State becomes arbitrary. It will cause conflicts and resistances from both inside and outside the country. So, while having strategies in circulating national values in education, the State should also create more space for globle conciousness. This will raise connection between the nations for a peaceful world in which each nation has convenient condition to develope.

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