Neoliberalism in Education

Neoliberalism in Education

Neoliberalism in education has faced criticism from different people in the society. Neoliberalism refers to an approach to the social and economic studies in which the economic factors’ control shifts to the private sector from the public sector. It is an approach that draws from the neoclassical economics’ principles suggesting that the governments should reduce their deficit spending, reform the taxation law to expand tax base, limit subsidies, remove fixed rates of exchange, open up the markets to more trade through the limitation of protectionism, privatization of the state-run businesses, back deregulation and allow private property ownership. This approach has different effects on the education sector.

What neoliberalism in education means

In the education sector, neoliberalism indicates clearly that once the priorities and goals of neoliberals are embedded in the way of thinking of the people in the institutions that do not consider themselves as neoliberal, they will engage in various practices that extend and mime neoliberals’ principles. These include privatization, markets proliferation, retreating from social engineering, and untrammeled competition. This approach simply means that the state or government will withdraw from funding the public learning institutions or reduce its contribution to their operating expenses. This implies that if at the same time there is an increase in the demand for education products, there will be a huge gap between the private and public institutions.

Neoliberalism also means competition among learning institutions. Schools, colleges and universities are competing to offer better education so that they can appeal to more parents and learners. This leads to a better education system in which learning institutions strive to offer better education to learners.

How neoliberalism affects the education sector

There are numerous effects of neoliberalism on education that have been witnessed so far.

They include:

  • Response by the learning institutions by raising tuition

This affects learners and their parents directly because the costs burden has been passed on to them making them debt-holders and consumers instead of the enlightenment beneficiaries.

  • Research partnerships

Learning institutions are venturing into research partnerships with industry players which have led to the dangers of transforming the search of truth into the search for profits.

  • Lack of commitment to better training

Learning institutions are hiring more part-time and short term adjuncts who like disposable and transient workforce are not capable of challenging the practices of learning institutions or agitating for academies that are committed to the achievement of democracy instead of monetary goals.

  • Increased privatization of schools

This is a major effect of neoliberalism on the education sector and it is very serious in some countries. In Britain for instance, the government is engaging schools on a pre-privatization program by setting up an academic system in which the state schools are state funded under the state system. However they are re-designated as the academies. This means that more than half of all schools within England are ‘academies’. In this case, an academy is simply a school that is given to a religious group. Some of these groups run schools with an aim of simply making profits.

Who is affected by neoliberalism in education?

Neoliberals focus on traditional texts, memorization drills and stakes testing narrowly. Their approach is mainly aimed at disinvesting in the public schools, removing federal and state governments from the public education completely and replacing public schools with the charter schools. This means that if neoliberals succeed, the education sector will eventually be administered and organized by the market driven forces. Thus, schools will eventually become corporate assets. This will affect learners negatively because they will not receive quality education. The society will suffer eventually, because the education sector will churn out half-baked graduates some of whom will be locked out from getting decent education and good jobs. Thus, learners will be robbed of their hopes of leading a better future.

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