The Rhetoric of Neo-Institutionalism and the Quality of Formal Education. Continuity and Change. National and Global Quality Cultures
KeywordsGlobalization - Today, Tomorrow
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AbstractEducational discourse is replete with references to the process of building a quality culture inside the educational system. In particular, the issue of educational quality has become an area of great interest and concern due to the conviction that education plays a pivotal role in global economy sustainable development. In choosing to investigate continuity and change surrounding learning process, the questions rely on the contextual and evolving character of the process. The ideas elaborated in this chapter point to the fact that education is a â€œpath dependenceâ€ phenomenon. Knowledge acquisition is underlain by perceptions derived from the process of collective learning across generations. The act of learning is a cumulative process subject to social and cultural filtration. The overall social approach to the benefits of expanding knowledge (in various stages of historical development) is the major source of long term change. Likewise, educational improvements are dependent on the features of social institutions and the institutions are variables strictly influenced by the level of education. Hence social institutions are likely to become inertial to change. How can one overcome this obstacle? Economics can provide at least one solution: joining the efforts of researchers coming from different economic areas can lead to worthwhile progress with respect to unveiling the causes and mechanisms of change. Thus, progressing onto a continual ladder of discovery and learning, horizons will broaden, and the prevailing patterns of thinking and perception will become more flexible. The distinctiveness between formal, non-formal and informal education determines a shift in focus. Learning is a culturally â€“filtered and cumulative process. Most reforms should be targeted at informal education. The pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education form a complex edifice which needs to be built in gradual stages. Meeting international quality assurance standards is not against this principle; on the contrary, it is quite compatible. It will make us aware that we are in competition with other participants/players worldwide and only quality players win. According to the guidelines developed by this chapter, the authentic and enduring progress in the quality formal education is only triggered by reforms targeted at informal aspects pertaining to the national institutional paradigm. This is the unique way to create a real global quality culture: the continuity of national specific reforms and the gradual change towards â€œuniversalâ€ values imposed by the winners of global competition. The global quality culture is fully compatible with the global intelligence. One emerges as a result of the other. This is the supreme stage, but we havenâ€™t reached that point yet. For the moment we could speak mainly about different national quality cultures and common quality cultures of joint educational programmes. Some steps are made toward the global quality culture, but in the light of neo-institutionalism, they are illusory because even the international standardization of education is just a formal initiative. Merging standards and processes doubled by the promotion of intercultural inquiry especially through nonformal/informal education will conduct us to a global culture, in general, and a global educational culture, in particular.