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Education ceases to be our right when commercialized

Isa Senkumba

Education ceases to be our right when commercialized

The festive season is well behind us. Vast majority of the People invaded villages lost their economic temper and spent every coin in their possession. In fact they caused temporary inflation in the villages as usual. We now back in our stable and rational mental state. The only challenge apparently is that schools have opened and they are impatiently waiting to siphon the last coin from our pockets. Everyone has been  lamenting over the burden of taking children back to school amidst skyrocketing fees.

Education has become more expensive than life itself. Sending and keeping a child at school costs you a fortune. Acquiring education has become so expensive right from Nursery schools to universities and colleges. The hassles we go through to keep our heads above the water in this commercial world are nothing but the price of globalization. Most schools have chosen to charge unbearably higher fees than others. In the long run this has compelled affordable schools to follow suite and also start charging highly to be able to cope with the cost of operating as well as their competitors.

Since no education system exists in a social vacuum, educational institutions are being challenged to follow suit. At the university level, globalization is manifested by a so called “internationalization”. This leads to creation of special groups of learners with special privilege because they can afford to pay a special, and usually higher, fee.

Proponents of the theories of globalization point out that in the global world, the world’s most powerful instrument of governance is not a government, nor a single global corporation, but a “global financial system based on market deregulation and free trade whose first interest is profit and according to which anything, including human capital, can and should be priced in order to participate in commercial transactions. All definitions promote an understanding of globalization as a process that encourages consumption of goods and services and is based on ‘flows’ of information, culture, and financial, physical and human capital that “move along various global highways.” These ‘flows’often create many opportunities but also many “new forms of inequalities of access between people and their locations,” as well as a number of other new social challenges.

 Critics of globalization have noted that this trend goes hand in hand with increasing orientation toward excessive consumption and individual alienation, since the broad interest of globalizing forces is to “construct an audience of a particular type addicted to a certain lifestyle with artificial wants, an audience atomized, separated from one another, fragmented enough so that they don’t enter the political arena and disturb the powerful. In many ways, these complex circumstances foster a climate where many individuals are increasingly lacking a deep sense of belonging to any collective group, which makes individual interest the easiest aspect of moral and ethical agency to identify and achieve within given legal frameworks.

In schools and universities, students increasingly view education and the time they spend in these institutions as a means to an economic end, a way of ensuring profitable employment. This is not to say that there should not be an economic benefit to their obtaining a degree or any qualification.  

However, while the outcomes of a commodity based exchange in the free market are easy to measure and quantify, the outcome of education, unless it is erroneously equated with the degree as an embodied form of capital, is not easily quantifiable. The social and cultural trends that foster a mentality where education equals a degree serve to further obscure the benefits of education that are not easily quantifiable and not immediately cashable. This means that it is wrong to commercialize education.

Education is the engine of development in every society and the foundation for human progress. All members of society need the same quality education without creating classes of people with special educational privilege above others. This is only possible if education becomes universal and a right to all individuals. As long as we allow education to turn into a business motivated by profits we are kicking out the bigger society population from enjoying this right.

senkumbab[at]yahoo.com

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