RIFOP 72 (25.3) December 2011 (Full text click here)
Neo-liberalism has become the backdrop to the changes in world-wide educational policy, no longer limited to cut-backs in resources or privatisation but reaching in to affect the very core of educational theory and pedagogical politics on a fundamental level. The conflicts which spill over into the school represent part of a more generalised crisis in politics and citizenship in global capitalism.
Using the argument that education should meet the demands of society, an evidently reductionalist interpretation is made by which society sees school and university solely in terms of their usefulness to business, and centres education around the preparation of the type of professionals in demand by business. According to this philosophy, investment in education and the curriculum should be tailored to meet the needs of the market, and seen as a preparation for the labour market. The social role of education, as a training ground for democracy and citizenship, is now seen as a waste of public funds, and has been replaced by the view private business has of the function of education: as a training ground for meeting the needs of business. A “flexible” and “multi-purpose” worker thus constitutes the new ideal reference point for pedagogy.
The fundamental problem is the overall framework within which it operates, and the philosophy behind the reform, which appears to employ a mercantile approach to European education. Because this reform does not seem to be about placing universities at the service of society in order to make it fairer, wiser, more universal, more equal, or more understanding, but seems rather to be about adapting universities to the market, which is one very concrete part of society, whose aims are not exactly justice, understanding or equality.