Monday, April 15, 2013

Commercialization of education

The horrendous cost of Commercialization of Education
 Commercialization of education means advertising the product (schools, play schools, university) in a way that appeals to the consumer (student and parent). The money put in advertising and infrastructural investment , has to be juiced from the consumers. Thus, if consumers seek better education and educational facility they have to spend bigger bucks. When a student is reduced to a mere consumer then what is the fate of millions of poor yet deserving students. Every child has a right to not just education but also an opportunity to get the best. The goal of education is to harness the potential of a child, direct, and channelize this potential in the right way.  Education has to have an inherently moralistic module in order to achieve its real goals and not just commercial ones.
Commercialization of education has a heinous effect, which is so subtle that it is often unrealized. Just like advertisements of coke and popcorn in movie halls, it also affects children at the sub-conscious level. For example, a child returns every alternate day from summer camp carrying so-called free items like noodles, tooth paste etc of a particular brand. The child is apparently informed about mouth hygiene while actually a brand is being promoted to them. Companies are reaching out to their young and innocuous targets using innovative ways. Are we ready for that kind of education for our children? I shudder to think of the day when questions in math’s paper will be set like: If one signal toothpaste, costs 20 DH how much does five signal toothpaste cost.
Another worrying aspect of commercialization of education is that the interest of the child and the kind of education that develops his/her full potential and wholesome personality is often not addressed. Education no longer is a noble profession but a business enterprise, a profit making opportunity. Subjects as science and mathematics assume more importance than literature or art, merely because latter on they provide remunerative jobs in the market. Thus subjects and their importance is often market driven and not necessarily for the development of the child’s potential. The role of a teacher is increasingly reduced to that of an employee in such an enterprise. A teacher is no longer an important entity participating in decision-making and advocating the best interest of the child. A teacher is expected to follow the line and work for the best interest of the enterprise (namely the sponsors, trustees and managers). Teachers are supposed to attend sophisticated programs rather than use their best judgment based on their observation of the student to guide them. It is true that teachers   too need to take bread home to feed their family. In the absence of monetary incentives and increasing alienation from the teaching process, there is a gradual erosion of talent in the teaching profession.
 Education does not entail mere knowledge accumulation. It is a crucial component for shaping a human for citizenship in the society, and become its contributing members. However, commercialization of education relegates the societal values and focuses on the material ones, reducing citizenship to mere businesspersons.

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