Finding the right balance of native education and global exposure


Archana Gaba
Principal, Saint Kabir Gurukul, Jalalabad (W)

The biggest challenge of Global Education would and does lie in diversity of local cultures. But, finding the right balance between native and global exposure is the key.

James Becker defined global education as an effort to help individual learners to see the world as single and global system and to see themselves as a participant in that system. It is a school curriculum that has worldwide standard of learning & teaching. The curriculum prepares learners for an international marketplace with a world view of international understanding. He wrote that in 1982 but his definition holds contextually true even today. His basic tenet of education on a global platform is and would continue to be universally impeccable & applicable.

Major attributes of global education

Here are the major attributes of global education:

Teachers as global educators: As far as the attributes go, the foremost is teachers trained as global educators. A globally competent teacher must have knowledge of the world of its critical political and global issues, its local impact, intercultural sensitivities and acceptance of the differences thereof and ability to incorporate this knowledge and sensitivity into classroom practice; and, he/she thus develops the skills to foster these dispositions, knowledge, and performances in learners.

Technology as an enabler: Technology is an equally important component. It will and has already been an enabler in seamlessly bringing learners and their instructors/teachers on common platform to be able to share information & experiences effortlessly. Global teachers must be technologically proficient. It will be their most important tool. Teachers will have to upgrade themselves far faster than they ever imagined, to keep up with the global educator profile. I read an interesting comment about it somewhere, which said, ‘Technology won’t replace Teachers, but Teachers who use technology will replace Teachers!’ And for that teacher trainings will have to be prerogative of the government, boards & employers.

Learn another language: Another important requirement is going to be proficiency in foreign languages. Apart from English & local language, ability to read and write another foreign language would be an added and important tool.

Other attributes: Other important attributes include infrastructure to support technology based learning and government spending in similar direction.

Challenges of global education in local scenario

The biggest challenge of Global Education would and does lie in diversity of local cultures. Learning of science – Physics or Biology, Mathematics, Accounts, Economics are objective. They would align eventually without diversity challenges. But the challenges lie on subjective or soft skills side in abilities like leaderships skills, cultural temperament, history, religion, political differences & to a great deal perspectives of instructor and how aligned it is with what will be considered in future a ‘global perspective’ and teachers and students alike would be measured on their ‘global ability quotient’. Especially in a country like ours, where there is such a hiatus in local cultures itself, it will be a great task for global teachers to inculcate traits of cultural tolerance in their global citizens to be. However a great positive with us as Indians also lies in the same diversity because we are taught right from the beginning to be with people ‘less like us’. Our cultural diversity within will play a great facilitator in our ability to adapt to global cultural diversities, since they are already well ingrained into our genetic coding.

What institutions can do?

There has to be a balance of native education and global exposure, which needs to be maintained so as not to hurt the local sensitivities. The differences and negative impacts we discussed like cultural differences or religion are very closely and dearly held as beliefs and values by the natives and hence the global perspective must be formed carefully as to not hurt them and also not be kept on such high priority that the global perspective gets radicalized in favour of native culture, religion and sensitivities. Balance would be both challenging & critical.

Ways to enrich the native systems to raise upto global standards

No native system of any country is already fully equipped to be delivering global education to deliver global citizens for a global marketplace. One very important point here is that the countries, who will generate greater opportunities on a social and economic platform will have more of their curriculum as a part of global curriculum and education. If India is a place to be for global citizens, then learning to speak and understand Hindi, or probably other local language would be a part of a larger global curriculum so would be its culture. Something similar to what happened with English in China, which gave all the first-mover advantage to India, when outsourcing of work was booming.

Though developing countries have a challenge in terms of technological and other infrastructural capabilities and also on a more general scale we lag far behind in our ability to provide education to all, so to expect global education for all will be a little far fetched immediately. Native systems need to start working more closely in sync with technology to equip them better and better. Also the decisions that schools and universities need to make are the direction in which they invest going forward. Investment decisions favouring global education would be a key factor too.

Native education systems vs. global systems

As I said earlier, basic tenets of knowledge are same for sciences but not for arts. Principles & laws of physics are same around the world, but same is not true with history or geography. History has tendency of changing with change is governments & the map of India in India is not the same as in China & Pakistan. It’s a small example but that where the differences would have to be appreciated and worked upon. Cultural differences, religious tolerance, soft skills alignment, food habits, global cuisines, language proficiencies will all play a part in what we call differences in global and native education systems. Facts would be uniform largely, perspectives and opinions would at the end of the day matter most, in forming the right shape of global education systems.

According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, 2015, ”Global competence in teachers is a set of essential knowledge, critical dispositions, and performances that help foster development of learners’ global competence. A globally competent teacher has knowledge of the world, of critical global issues, their local impact, and the cultural backgrounds of learners; manifests intercultural sensitivity and acceptance of difference; incorporates this knowledge and sensitivity into classroom practices; and, develops the skills to foster these dispositions, knowledge, and performances in learners. The teacher models socially responsible action and creates opportunities for learners to engage in socially responsible action.”

Archana Gaba is a senior educationist with 20+ years of successful career as an academician and administrative executive. She is Principal, Saint Kabir Gurukul, Jalalabad (W); President, Sadbhav Sahodaya Complex, Fazilka; NLP Practitioner & Counsellor; Master Hypnotherapist and Teacher-Trainer and Educational Consultant.

Her areas of expertise include Knowledge Development, Human Resource Management, Parent-Orientation, Soft-skill trainer, Classroom Management and Curriculum Designing.