Education International
Education International

EI develops guidelines to confront globalisation

published 4 September 2008 updated 4 September 2008

Education International has long been concerned about the growing threats posed to education at all levels as a result of economic globalization and trade liberalization. Vocational education and training (VET) is particularly vulnerable to these pressures.

Once the primary responsibility of public institutions, vocational education and training now straddles the public, private and for-profit sectors. Meanwhile, the growing cross-border provision of vocational education and training is increasingly governed by commercial imperatives and subject to the rules of trade agreements. EI’s task force on globalization and VET asserted that the internationalization of education should be encouraged insofar as it advances knowledge and promotes cooperation and development. However, it should be firmly based on educational values, not commercial ones. Therefore, the task force has developed a set of guidelines for the cross-border provision of vocational education and training that (in contrast to GATS and similar trade agreements) would promote quality, accessibility, equity, and protections for the status and employment rights of staff. The draft guidelines are intended to address and counterbalance the threats posed by trade and investment agreements, not only to staff jobs and living standards, but to the quality of education and training students receive. The principles underlying the guidelines emphasize education as a public good, not a private commodity. Therefore, governments should continue to play the lead role in provision of vocational education and training, and not abdicate this responsibility by contracting out to cross-border providers. The guidelines also deal with important issues including accreditation and quality assurance; locally relevant content; mobility of teachers, staff and students; cross-border investment in VET; cross-border supply of VET; and employment rights of staff. Together they aim to ensure that employment standards and educational quality are strengthened, not diluted, due to cross-border initiatives, and that local characteristics, including linguistic and cultural diversity, are respected. The guidelines also address the danger of the “brain drain” of staff and students from the developing to the developed world.