Globalisation and Diversity: the implications for Educational Capabilities

Fennell, Shailaja (2016). 'Globalisation and Diversity: the implications for Educational Capabilities' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract Globalisation has been associated with increased trade flows, the rise of exports as a proportion of GDP, the growth of cheaper production lines, and entry into new markets. Globalisation has also been identified as a mechanism for obtaining a greater pool of resources, particularly through a successful quest for high quality human capital that enriches the global workplace. The relationship between globalization, education and development and the implications for the study of diversity are important for understanding the relationship between the global North and South. A case in point is that of a sharp shift in perspectives on the relative availability of appropriate technical skills. In recent decades there has been large-scale recruitment of highly educated nationals from developing countries to increase the availability of technical staff in many developed countries. There has also been a simultaneous increase in widespread and grave concerns in these developed countries about huge inflows of ‘economic migrants’. On the other hand, the importance of acquiring skills and the opportunity to display and hone such skills in the workplace can facilitate human development within nations and has been identified as a key opportunity at the start of the 21st century (UNDP, 2001). The explosion in human skills that has occurred in the South has largely been the consequence of education systems that began to flourish in the South only in the second half of the 20th century. There is little doubt that the acquisition of local knowledge and cultural fluency are valuable assets for a corporation in the global economy. The diversity available from among the local educated professionals is among the most cost effective ways of acquiring these assets. The challenge for globalization appears to be the balancing of gaining access to diverse abilities while ensuring that the educational capabilities of populations in the developing world are enhanced. An example is that of the corporation interested in dynamic advantage that will choose to eschew cheap and low skill work of the infamous ‘sweatshop labour’ for the gains obtained from being privy to ‘tacit knowledge’ and knowledge of not just what, and how but who! This paper will examine the important insights that emerge from the processes by which educational systems can facilitate the deepening of local knowledge and the embedding of capability enhancing values (Brighouse and Unterhalter, 2008). It, will also contrast this with the other extreme, where education has resulted in problems of exclusion that are corrosive for the social fabric of local communities, but increase the availability of high quality skills in the global workplace. The term diversity is used to indicate the availability of a greater and more divergent pool of mind-sets and skills that can be nurtured by an educational system that advances individual and group capabilities. These perspectives on globalisation provide new opportunities for understanding the impact of educational systems for individual and group capabilities across the world. The key questions raised by this paper are the following: Does globalisation destroy diversity? Does diversity hinder education? Does education (knowledge) help to recognise the need for diversity in a global world? The paper uses empirical data and case studies to make the case that globalisation does provide new opportunities to access the local knowledge of technically competent labour forces in the developing world. These resources can be harnessed by using knowledge deepening processes through the innovative and intelligent employment of labour both within as well as outside the developing world. This does, however, require a move away from the simple models of human capital to a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between education, skill and employment gaps.   Readings Brighouse, H. and E. Unterhalter (2008) ‘Primary Goods versus Capabilities: Considering the debate in relation to equalities of education’, in H-U. Otto and H. Zegler (eds.) Capabilities – Handlungsbefähigung und Verwirklichungschancen in der Erziehungswissenschaft (Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag), pp. 69–84, English verion available online, (accessed on 23 September 2014). UNDP (2001), Human Development Report, 2001, United Nations Development Programme.

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