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The impact of global governance on local context – A case study of changed basic education policy in Oman

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Introduction

Proponents of globalization, as Rosenau (1999, p.100) confirms, declare “the systems of world governance as being akin to the establishment of world architectures”. However, this equation is rapidly turning out even more sophisticated as time progresses. Diane (2008) notes, “the issue for today’s world governance is to have a collective influence on the world’s destiny by establishing a system for regulating the many interactions that lie beyond the province of state action” (p.21).

This largely differs from the earlier existing concerns of global governance in which “the process was all about limitation and regulation of powers of individual states in order to curtail overturning and or disturbance of the status quo” (Kraser, 1983, p.2). Global governance concepts are widely attributed to the need to homogenize world politics to take the formats of concerns of liberal democracy.

In this context, globalization makes it practical to “establish a world governance system that goes beyond market laissez-faire and the democratic peace originally formulated by Immanuel Kant, which constitutes a sort of geopolitical laissez-faire” (Rosenau, 1999, p.102).

On the other hand, critics of globalization and its capacity to set frameworks for the establishment of global governance systems lament that global governance has a weakness, especially based on the need to formulate a mechanism of achieving equitable developments on a worldwide scale.

Through the appreciation of the fact that global governance systems present multifold views depending on whether one is globalist or anti-globalist, this paper focuses on scrutinizing the impact of global governance on local context-a case study of changing the basic education policy in Oman. In addition, the paper attempts to define global governance besides looking at how the adoption of the concept presents the democracy in the context of Oman.

Defining global governance

Depending on the context from which people view the concerns of global governance, there exist valid definitions of global governance. Rosenau (1995) claims that global governance encompasses “a system of rule at all levels of human activity-from the family to the international organization-in which pursuit of goals through the exercise of control has transnational repercussions” (p.13).

This perception of global governance is arguably generalist, especially bearing in mind the argument that the application of the term rule is synonymous to control in which the controllers pay incredible attention to make modifications of actors’ behaviors. In this contest, global governance may be taken as an activity that is purposeful and predominantly intended to exact control or even influence people both within territorial boundaries and in the international arena.

Rosenau defines global governance as “an order that lacks a centralized authority with the capacity to enforce decisions on a global scale” (Rosenau 1992, p.7). This definition indeed lacks precise declaration of the persons responsible for making decisions and or how the decisions enforcement precisely takes place. Rather, the definition implies that global governance is principally focused on purposive order, which is credited with management of interdependences in case of non-existence of the global state.

Adoption of rules is a critical concern of global governance, just as any other government does. Nevertheless, arguably this is not the sole purpose for which governments are formed. From this angle, global governance is defined by Finkelstein (1995) as “governing without sovereign authority, relationships that transcend national frontiers” (p.369). This definition implies that global governance entangles ideally performing the tasks performed by governments at international fronts.

It is also somewhat pragmatic to note that global governance as defined by Finkelstein (1995) considers only purposive acts but excludes tacit arrangements. The emphasis is thus on what is actually done rather than paying attention to the constitutional basis for acting in a given manner. Even though citation of rules is essential in the definition of global governance, it is also important to note that “global governance also embraces principles, norms and decision-making procedures” (Kraser, 1983, p.2).

Looking at global governance this way, the foundational basis for analysis of how global governance influences Oman basic educational policies is arguably well developed. However, this foundation is well established upon taking into corporation the concerns of global governance, as defined by Weiss and Thakur (2007).

Global governance is “the complex formal and informal institutions mechanisms, relationships, and processes between and among states, markets, citizens and organizations, both inter- and non-governmental, through which collective interests on the global plane are articulated, Duties, obligations and privileges are established, and differences are mediated through educated professionals” (Weiss & Thakur, 2007, p.5).

In this case, the changing of basic educational policies in Oman is ideally pegged on the need to enhance internationalism of her grandaunts.

The impact of global governance on education policy in Oman

There exists a myriad of interesting experiments on the impact of globalization and its associated concept of global governance on education systems. With regard to McGinn, some of those experiments are “directly related to a new form of capitalism promoted as globalization” (1997, p.47).

People to whom globalization is ideally a cause and also for people who perceive globalization as promising, all advocate for changes of educational systems through change of national educational policies. Globalization is thus seen as being plausible for aiding in reforming educational policies with the chief objective of improving nations’ global competitiveness. Indeed majority of educators advocate for enactment of educational policies having the capacity to foster world peace coupled with justice (Lewis, 2006, p.69).

This is widely why global governance concepts are essential since they aid in the creation of rules, decisions and mechanisms of enforcing decisions in an attempt to create educational policies guided by similar principles and norms internationally. Oman is arguably one of the developing nations whose basic educational polices have been immensely afflicted by embracement of concepts of global governance at her national frontiers.

Many educational scholars contend that education constitute one of the most significant concern of all world’s states, including Oman as it greatly facilitates in shaping coupled with preparations of children’s future globally. Indeed, many financial resources are allocated to education as one of the public goods.

Traditionally, Oman was developing educational policies consistent to what the policymakers found being crucial to the nation without putting international educational policies into perspectives. Put differently, education polices in Oman were ideally national affairs. However, with advents of concepts of globalization governance, Oman has joined other global nations’ ways of thought about the nature of educational policies.

Congruent with this line of thought, Green (2002) reckons, “within the wider context of globalization, education is regarded now as an international commodity” (p.611). As an international commodity, education contributes immensely to building people’s knowledge and skills base. Internationalization of education policy is largely contributed by “dominance of the global economy over the national politics (Held & McGrew, 2000, p.97: Marginson, 1999, p.23).

Developing countries, including Oman encounter a myriad of challenges in as far as their education systems are concerned. These challenges are arguably inborn and articulated to the developing nations’ social economic and even political problems.

For this reason, putting policies in place to promote accessibility of high-quality education coupled with training is an option from which developing countries cannot turn away. In this context, to make the Oman competitive educationally at the international arena, global governance concepts are integrated in the enactment and in implementation of her basic educational policies.

The rapid developments experienced in Oman are a consequence of heavy investments in education. Consideration of the history of Oman’s educational systems reveals that the Omani government has been, and it is indeed continuing with heavy investments in the education sector since the 1970s.

One of these concepts that has helped to enhance basic educational policies in Oman and which is highly influenced by concepts of global governance is the Omanisation strategy.

In fact, globalization coupled with Omanisation strategy has had magnificent implication on Oman’s educational policies (Alharthy, 2007, p.1: Almamari, 2009, p.8: Alnabhani, 2009, p.13) the two concepts have been significant in the formulation of Omani educational policies in a manner that takes into corporation both international and local challenges afflicting the nation.

In this end, Ozturk (2001) posits, “education policy is based on the needs of Omani people and reflected in the changes that are happening locally, regionally and globally” (p.43). The impacts of global governance on Omani educational policies are perhaps more conspicuous when a consideration is given to both qualitative and quantitative aspects of the country’s educational policies. These impacts are indeed reflected by adoption of globalization educational policies discourses in Omani.

In 1995, Omani held a general conference, which outlined the nation’s vision 2020. In relation to basic educational policies, this conference was regarded as being incredibly significant in the derivation of the Omani’s government strategic plan to tackle proactively the challenges encountered in the implementation of globalization and Omanisation concepts.

Moreover, the conference gave rise to a myriad of proposed policies-all focusing on aiding in the achievement of the dream of sustainable development. In this regard Ministry of Development (1995) laments, “the conference influenced the education system positively in terms of changing its policies to cope with global changes, as well as to better meet local needs” (p.27).

Among the realm of considerations for improvement of Omani systems of basic education is enactment of policies that seek to enhance secondary education, make it more consistent with the demands of society of the future and also policies that enhance introduction of teaching computing as one of the basic subjects.

These two noble strategies, arguably sets forth the concerns of Omani government attempts to breach national boundaries and engage the concerns of the international community into its formulations and implementation of basic educational policies influenced by concepts of global governance.

Coming up with a system of secondary education that meets precisely the demands of the future generation implies that the policies guiding this process must have their main focus rested on the need to foster multicultural interactions. It is also critical to note the IT is a credible tool for the disbursement of concerns of global governance across borders of nations. Therefore, making computing a basic subject in Omani schools implies that students are given an opportunity to master the channel for participation in global interactions.

In Oman, basic education policies have indeed been highly impacted by global governance concepts and principles. Following incorporation of principles of global governance on Omani education policies, the general education system was replaced by basic education policies.

The basic education policy may be traced from post-Washington consensus. In the consensus, millennium development goals-MDGs and concepts of education for all-EFA were given credible attention. Precisely, in the millennium development goal, the focus was fostering and enhancing education as a mechanism of fostering multicultural integrations. This was later to form the basis and vessel for enhancing globalization.

Via the introduction of basic education policies, the state of Osman has attempted to profile precisely the trend that is of global influence. According to the Ministry of National Economy (2004), “the ministry of education in Oman has provided a report on the development of basic education to the UNESCO” (p.34). Arguably this depicts the magnitude of influence that the UNESCO has on the education policies in Oman.

Arguably, the UNESCO is a body that has a global influence and hence ran under the international rules and regulations, often squarely established under the inspirations of concepts of global governance. Therefore, if Omani education policy is influenced by the UNESCO, then it implies that the UNESCO acts as a substantive force via which basic education in Omani is impacted.

The new basic education system adopted in Oman emphasizes on teaching of computing and English right from grade one as evidenced by its policy objectives. Additionally more focus is indebted to teaching both mathematics and sciences. Apparently, emphasis of teaching sciences, computing and even English are discourses of global policies of education.

Therefore, global governance has immensely influenced Omani education systems. In this end, Alharthy (2007) informs, “basic Education has been implemented to prepare Omanis to enter the workforce, equipped with the required skills demanded by the global economy” (p.3).

This conspicuously sheds light that basic education coupled with curriculum policies that mainly focus on the global economy and life skills are subtle ways of addressing the challenges posed by globalization to developing nations such as Oman. This argument is indeed made to have more substance in the context of the Ministry of Education (2004) insight that, “to achieve the required changes to Basic Education, there have been new teaching and learning strategies that have been derived from global experiences” (Para. 9).

When it comes to testing techniques, ministry of education in Oman deploys ‘Trends in International Mathematics and Science’ (TIMSS), for testing achievements in science coupled with mathematic among Oman student. Consequently, the ministry then makes the comparison of the achievements with the global scale-also guided by TIMSS.

The impacts of global governance on Oman education policies are made even more pronounce by the Ministry of education (n.d) insight, “using TIMSS helps the Ministry to have reliable data to assess Oman’s comparative global competitiveness” (Para. 3).

In this extent, it is arguable that Omani educational policies of curriculum, life skills, testing, computing skills, and work skills are more of reforms ideally meant to responds to discourses and pressures emanating from globalization discourses- the globalization discourses being ardently influenced by concepts of global governance.

In comparison to the developed world education policies, the basic educational policies of the developing world, including Oman stand out as highly impacts by global governance. The reforms in education polices of Oman are substantive indicators that the direction of impacts of global governance is toward making developing world educational policies emulate the education policies of the developed world. It is indeed from the developed world that the concepts of global governance emanated.

Conclusion

In this paper, an enormous attention has been deployed to scrutinize education policies. The paper has shown how global governance affects them with the point of focus being Omani policies of education. Indeed, proponents of globalization enormously contend that systems of world governance are akin to the establishment of world architectures.

From this perspective, the paper argued that, globalization, being the central focus of global governance concepts, has immense roles in influencing basic education policies of countries that are developing- Oman being one of them. The paper contends that differing definition of global governance exists. However, through an evaluation of the weaknesses of various definitions, for the purposes of discussions of the paper, global governance has to get a working definition.

It is “the complex formal and informal institutions mechanisms, relationships, and processes between and among states, markets, citizens and organizations, both inter- and non-governmental, through which collective interests on the global plane are articulated, duties, obligations and privileges are established, and differences are mediated through educated professionals” (Weiss & Thakur, 2007, p.5). The post-Washington consensus led to the establishment of the millennium development goals and the concepts of education for all.

This inspiration immensely translated into setting perspectives that influence the Oman basic educational policies. It is also argued that the emphasis of sciences, computing, work skill, life skill, mathematical and also teaching of English are akin and central to the global educations discourses and policies.

Drawing from this argument, the paper claimed that, since Omani basic educational policies place emphasis in similar areas in her curriculum, her education policies are immensely impacted by concepts of global governance, which seeks to ensure the existence of common educational policies in an attempt to foster global peace, understanding and multicultural perspectives.

Reference List

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