Education NGOs

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The educational field has been known as playing a major role in shaping contemporary society, mainly because it allows to conceptualize people's surroundings as well as their interactions with those surroundings. However, as education intersects with politics, geography, and economics, educational outcomes become significantly different. Educational ideology is a product of culture and vice versa. In addition to these factors, the understanding of political economy's role in education is vital in understanding the variance of educational outcomes.

The language of education used by nation-states as well as international intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations NGO (both transnational and national), and agents of civil society (many of which belong to the aforementioned categories) contributes heavily to the self-identification of individuals. By understanding the language of each, we can reach a greater understanding of the multiple, conflicting, and overlapping educational ideologies employed across the globe. The issue of education on an international scale is also embedded in a complex framework of international relations which alters the effectiveness of those who employ the ideologies in a practical manner. Education NGOs differ in practice and ideology based on the previously mentioned factors. However, in the age of globalization, travel and communication have contributed to new ideas about individual identities in relation to the a global - rather than national - community.

Historical background[edit]

Influence of Education Philosophy is both the product of, and basis for, the educational ideologies that shape members of our society. Furthermore, the language utilized to describe the actors within society is key to understanding the outcomes of differing educational ideologies. Jean Jacques Rousseau is one of the philosophers who recognized the organizational utility of language in shaping nation-states. Although this language would only matter in the mind of single individuals, the proliferation of these concepts and their subsequent adoption was and is vital to their identification as members of a nation-state, as well as in distinguishing them from others. Words like people, nation, citizen, body politic, popular sovereignty, other, and foreigner were present throughout his social contract theory, which resulted in the creation of imagined boundaries that bind individuals together for mutual benefit. Education was the tool that would construct a common understanding of these terms and bind people together. In his book "Considerations on the Government of Poland", written in 1772, he proposed this nationalistic form of education; "It is education," he said,"that should put the national stamp on men's minds and give the direction to their opinions and tastes which will make them patriots... National education is the privilege of free men who share common interests and are united under law".[1] Rousseau's philosophy shaped and reflects the current system of nation-states in the international system. It also exposes the political nature of education; public education under this philosophy is therefore a tool of the nation-state which is used to consolidate a certain identity and will.

Globalization and education[edit]

Many scholars argue that globalization, consisting of increased movement of people and goods across international borders, is contributing to the weakening of the nation-state because of the emergence of global regulatory organizations, global mass media, and the aforementioned global flow of populations[2] Global regulatory organizations include the intergovernmental organizations that regulate the world economy, such as membership organizations like the World Bank and World Trade Organization, as well as other international organizations such as the United Nations. These organizations operate within a context of global norms that are established, and laws that are passed, with the influence of non-state actors, or non-governmental organizations (NGOs). While global regulatory organizations focus on the establishment and enforcement of policies by exerting influence over the conditions of monetary loans, NGOs attempt to establish and enforce norms through exerting a certain sense of moral authority.[3]

Fundamental differences in approaching education[edit]

In his book about educational ideologies and their effects on global society, Akira Iriye categorizes all of those actors that operate outside and across national boundaries as members of a global community.[4] Although this does not greatly distinguish between international/transnational actors, other scholars have developed the term global civil society, including a network of NGOs that function in contrast to and sometimes competing with, the actions of nation-states. As the World Bank states on their website, "The emergence and growth of Civil Society over the past two deades has been one of the most significant trends in international development. The World Bank recognizes that civil society plays an especially critical role in helping to amplify the voices of the poorest people in the decisions that affect their lives, improve development effectiveness and sustainability, and hold governments and policymakers publicly accountable. The purpose of this web site is to provide Civil Service Organizations (CSOs) with information, links, and materials on the World Bank's evolving relationship with civil society in Washington and throughout the world".[5] Furthermore, the World Bank is the single largest external financeir of education in the world, with " the heart of the World Bank's mission to reduce global poverty" (according to their own reports).[6] The World Bank also adopts educational standards established by other international intergovernmental organizations, such as their implementation of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)'s "Educational Sector Strategy", which establishes specific international targets for "primary education, adult literacy, and gender parity in basic education with the Education for All initiative" as well as the OECD's Development Assistance Committee goals".[7]

Although many scholars,activists, and NGOs agree with targeting specific populations, they contest the motives of the World Bank based on their measurements of success. These members of civil society see the actions of the World Bank as emphasizing economic growth based on the pursuit of profits as well as the increase of consumption in developing areas, as favoring representative governments, and as supporting the privatization of educational systems (including private schools, charging tuition for government schools, and privatizing textbook production).[8] Some critics, such as members of the antiglobalization movement, have gone as far as to say that the economic and environmental growth policies of the World Bank actually hinder educational development in many countries, and are, in fact, undemocratic based on the perpetuation of inequality.[9]

The "U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice", an antiglobalization platform, went as far to call for "the immediate suspension of the policies and practices of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group which have caused widespread poverty, inequality, and suffering among the world's peoples and damage to the world's environment....These institutions are anti-democratic... and their policies have benefitted international private sector financiers, transnational corporations, and corrupt officials and politicians....We demand that the World Bank Group immediately cease providing advice and resources to advance the goals associated with corporate globalization, such as privatization and liberalization".[10] These groups believe that the type of education that is promoted by international institutions and intergovernmental monetary institutions such as the IMF and World Bank represent the interest of the member countries, and do not benefit the human capital within the recipient countries. This is an example of policy implementation from above.

On the other hand, members of civil society and the antiglobalization movements alike view their own actions as policy implementation from below, emphasizing "relations among people and between people and the environment", as opposed to privatization of government services, and as focusing on the direct action and participation of citizens in decision-making.[11] Because of this, education has shifted from nation-state oriented learning to an emphasis on world citizenship, civic education, service learning, human rights, and environmental education.

World citizenship[edit]

Boli, Loya, and Loftin state that globalization has had some positive benefits in their work on the concepts of global/world citizenship and civic society. According to them, the adoption by educators of the concept of a global society led to a growth in the non-governmental (NGO) and non-profit sector; subsequently, the idea of a global citizen arose with the following characteristics:

  • They know about and have contact with NGOs
  • Their education orients them towards participation in NGOs
  • They are people with higher education and they have the financial resources to travel
  • World citizenship is more probable for people involved in social service activities and voluntary work
  • World citizenship is more probable for people with a weak national identity[12]

The idea of world citizenship has exploded because of recent advances in new information technologies such as the internet and its social networking sites; these provide "powerful, new opportunities to advocates to disseminate information and mobilize support".[13] Furthermore, the increase in population movements and a surge in travel to world conferences (i.e. 1992 Rio Earth Summit, 1995 Beijing UN Conference on Women) has helped the operationalist relations between NGOs, further solidifying transnational networks of communication and thus, influence.[14]

Human rights education[edit]

Human rights NGOs, the largest group of NGOs in global civil society, shift focus away from an allegiance to the nation-state, as proposed by Rousseau, to an allegiance to humanity.[15] The 1996 Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed the training, dissemination, and information efforts aimed at the building of a universal culture of human rights...through the imparting of knowledge and skills and the molding of attitudes and directed to: a)The strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; b)The full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity; c) The promotion of understanding, tolerance, gender equality and friendship among all nations, indigenous peoples, and racial, national, ethnic religious and linguistic groups; d)The enabling of all persons to participate effectively in a free society; e)The furtherance of the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace".[16] However, this report fails to address socio-economic inequalities, and is more ideological.

Teaches about:

  • cultural differences, attempting to seek common ground for working for human rights
  • human rights as the morality of a global civil society
  • rights based approach to adequate nutrition, shelter, health care, and employment.[14]

Environmental education[edit]

  • Speciesism
  • Naturalism and Deep Ecology
  • Humanism and Sustainability
  • Indigenous Cultures
    • Culture and Traditional Knowledge of Biosphere
    • Spiritualism
  • Ecotourism

Active intergovernmental institutions that work in education[edit]

  • World Bank (WB)
  • Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  • World Trade Organization (WTO)
  • United Nations (UN)
    • Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
    • United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

U.S. Public Policy[edit]

Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009[17]

  • Reauthorizes and expands two previous acts, the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA) and the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (DVSA).
    • The National and Community Service Act of 1990 describes service learning as "a method under which students or participants learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that is conducted in and meets the needs of a community; is coordinated with an elementary school, secondary school, institution of higher education, or community service program, and with the community; and helps foster civic responsibility; and that is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the students, or the educational components of the community service program in which the participants are enrolled; and provides structured time for the students or participants to reflect on the service experience."[18]

Nonprofit Capacity Building Program[19]

  • "The Nonprofit Capacity Building Program (NCBP) will increase the capacity of a small number of intermediary grantees to work with small and midsize nonprofits in communities facing resource hardship challenges to develop and implement performance management systems".[19]


  1. ^ [The Emile of Jean Jacques Rousseau: Selectionstranslated by William Boyd (New York: Teachers College Press, 1956), p.189]
  2. ^ [Spring, Joel H. How Educational Ideologies Are Shaping Global Society: Intergovernmental Organizations, NGOs, and the Decline of the Nation-state. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004. p.10]
  3. ^ [Spring, Joel H. How Educational Ideologies Are Shaping Global Society: Intergovernmental Organizations, NGOs, and the Decline of the Nation-state. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004. p.28]
  4. ^ [Akira Iriye, Global Community: The Role of International Organizations in the Making of the Contemporary World. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002)]
  5. ^ ["The World Bank and Civil Society,"]
  6. ^ [The World Bank, Education and Development, (Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2002), p.2]
  7. ^ [World Bank Education: Education Sector Strategy(Washington, DC: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, 1999), p.vii]
  8. ^ Kevin Danaher, ed., Democratizing the Global Economy: The Battle Against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 2001) p.8
  9. ^ [Spring, Joel H. How Educational Ideologies Are Shaping Global Society: Intergovernmental Organizations, NGOs, and the Decline of the Nation-state. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004. p.33]
  10. ^ [Network Platform & Demands to the IMF and World Bank,]
  11. ^ Kevin Danaher, ed., Democratizing the Global Economy: The Battle Against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 2001) p.8
  12. ^ [John Boli, Thomas A. Loya, and Teresa Loftin, "National Participation in World-Polity Organization," Constructing World Culture..., p.74-75]
  13. ^ ["Public Advocacy: A Cornerstone of Democratic Society," Civicus World: Newsletter of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation(May–June 1998), p.1.
  14. ^ a b [Spring, Joel H. How Educational Ideologies Are Shaping Global Society: Intergovernmental Organizations, NGOs, and the Decline of the Nation-state. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004.p.31]
  15. ^ [Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998), p.11]
  16. ^ "Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the implementation of the Plan of Action for the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education".
  17. ^ > Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009
  18. ^ United States Code: Title 42,12511. Definitions | LII / Legal Information Institute
  19. ^ a b > Nonprofit Capacity Building Program