Do First World Countries Really Impose an “Anti-Immigration” Curriculum on Third-World Countries?

Anti-Immigration Plot?

Among some in the educational establishment in Northwest Africa, the idea is spreading that the new skills-based educational pedagogy is actually an “anti-immigration” plot hatched by first-world countries to “keep third-world workers in their own countries.”  I even heard of a college professor of education who is teaching this to prospective teachers, who are asked to implement the new pedagogy.

What is actually happening with the new pedagogy, however, is the result of the new global communication revolution of internet penetration into third-world countries.

World Internet Users, 2011

In the past, as explained in The Globalization Paradox (2011), the Industrial Revolution spread from England, to the European countries, and to some of the New World (North America, Australia, and New Zealand), but not much further.  These parts of the world had two distinct advantages (which up-and-coming third-world countries are now trying to do something about):  1.)  they had enough educated and skilled workers to run the new factories, and 2.)  they had good institutions–well functioning legal systems, stable politics, restraints on expropriations by the state–to generate incentives for private investment and market expansion.

Other countries had to depend on “importing” skills and institutions, and they used intercontinental labor mobility to do so.

Imported labor building American railroads

This era is now coming to an end.   Internet communication and improved transport of goods via supertankers enables companies to move operations elsewhere, because it is more cost-effective, rather than the more expensive alternative of importing labor.   Therefore, any country who wants those jobs must prepare its labor force.

This revolution is NOT happening because of a first-world PLOT designed by governments.  It is an unanticipated effect of internet communications.   Many, many individual companies are making these decisions on their own.  Many are now forced to in order to compete with those who have already done so.

Forward-thinking third-world governments are now realizing this, and are beginning to create the conditions which will enable some of their citizens to obtain jobs in the new world marketplace, or to become entrepreneurs and create their own businesses.

Education in Libya, North Africa

For example, in North Africa, in just one decade, schools have been built all over the country, and for the first time, the majority of children are in school. Those who are graduating from college, having succeeded in their education, are now clamoring for jobs.

The only middle school in this rural area of Northwest Africa

Two problems exist.  First, the countries are small, and the market size served by businesses is small (except in textiles, tourism, and agriculture).  Therefore, the profitability of acquiring new equipment and technologies is small for the average business, which still remains family-based, and therefore provides limited opportunities for employment to average workers without family connections.

Tunisian college students

Second, most local college graduates are not from the elite classes (the elite usually send their sons and daughters to foreign universities).  Many of these graduates feel that the elites are in cahoots with the local governments, and that these elites block improvements in others’ economic positions that would threaten their own power.  This is a great part of what the Arab Spring movement is about.  The newly-educated middle classes want a democratic meritocracy, rather than an oligarchy of the elites.

By implementing the new skills-based pedagogy, they are actually attempting to insure that what is being taught has some usefulness in the real world, as well.   However, it is not only in the third-world where these pedagogies are being implemented; they are now de rigueur in much of the first world, too.

This trend has now been taken to an extreme, however, as was illustrated to me recently by a friend in England, “I was amazed to see how rigidly it is implemented these days in my daughter’s school.  When you go to parents’ evenings, the teachers actually do have enormous A3-size spreadsheets with hundreds of tiny squares on a grid.  Teachers find the student’s name, and move along the row, saying things like, ‘Uses adjectives to express emotion in a third party – level 4A;’ or in history, ‘deducing a specific social condition from a contemporary artwork – level 5B.’  It is all incredibly mechanical, and if you ask how they are doing overall, there is no such thing.”

A Page from the British National Curriculum

What is happening in third-world North African education is now no different that what is happening in Europe.  It is not a plot.  However, this trend in Europe appears to have gone much too far, into uselessness!

Is it something new that first-world countries are against importation of unskilled labor?  Yes, and no.  First-world countries are mostly interested in protecting the middle-tier of jobs, rather than those at the very top or the very bottom.  These are the jobs that every country wants to reserve for their own workers, and that they do not want immigrants filling.  This is nothing new.

Middle-tier, white-collar desk jobs

No country minds importing workers at the very high skill end, where those skills don’t exist, and where they may benefit by learning those skills from the imported workers.  Also, most countries continue to import workers for the very lowest level of jobs, such as migrant farm labor, or office cleaning at night.

What is new is that both Islamic terrorism has been increasing in Europe, and migrating groups have been attempting to impose ideological change on their host societies.  This has definitely had a backlash  effect on the general willingness to accept immigrants, both in Europe and in America, especially from Muslim countries.

This restriction on jobs is even true for me as a first-world immigrant to a third-world country, where I find most jobs are reserved for people who are citizens.  As a non-citizen immigrant, I am only permitted to do for which it can be “proved” by the company I work for that a citizen cannot fill the position, or else I must be self-employed.  I want to point out that third-world countries have equally strong anti-immigration policies as do first-world countries.

Northwest Africa has been implementing a new educational pedagogy the past few years, which requires teachers to mark each student on specific skills mastered (similar to my English friend’s experience, described above), as well as to use modern group activities and other interesting delivery methods.

Crowded classrooms in Northwest Africa

One of the reasons teachers have been striking for several years is that most teachers feel this is too difficult and requires too much work when each teacher has over 300 students each week ( compared with typical American teachers having up to 180 students per week). One middle school teacher I know says, “I teach 13 classes of 45 students each, with each class lasting once a week for two hours.”   An incredible amount of material has to be covered.  This teacher felt that if he had three classes of 15 students each, or even his own classroom (he has to move from room-to-room) he might be able to fully implement the new educational pedagogy.

Educational trends swing with the pendulum as much as other social trends do.  We are still clearly in the upswing of this trend toward skill boxes.  I predict that the current trend will continue for another twenty years before it is scrapped in Europe, and educational trends head in another direction.

–Lynne Diligent

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8 Responses to “Do First World Countries Really Impose an “Anti-Immigration” Curriculum on Third-World Countries?”

  1. Abdelmjid Seghir Says:

    Thank you Lynne for this insightful article.
    I think that your experience in North Africa has enabled you to understand the society in this part of the world which is a great asset an expat should be equipped with.
    However, being a North African myself, I find myself obliged to disagree with you say that:
    “This revolution is NOT happening because of a first-world PLOT designed by governments.”

    I believe the conspiracy Theory isn’t 100% a work of fiction. People wouldn’t have kept believing in it for decades had it not have some truth in it. There actually IS some sort of conspiracy against third world countries. I know that this can be very relative but I also know that the rich want the third-world’s ressources but NOT its people.
    (I’m not saying that everyone is thinking this way, though)

    Actually, the Pedagogy of Integration implemented in North Africa has emerged in Belgium. So, it doesn’t strike me that it’s being used in Europe, too.
    However, I’m quite sure that British classrooms don’t look like the one above (The last picture). This pedagagogy could be fruitful if we had to do it in the right conditions:
    – Classes with a limited number of students.
    – Devising curriculums with reasonable objecives.
    – Increasing instruction time.
    – Providing teachers with the adequate in-service trainings.
    – No more lowering of the passing grades. Students shouldn’t pass UNLESS they really do well in the previous year.
    – Well equipped classrooms. ICT tools, interactive whiteboards…
    – Including parets in the teaching/learning process. For example:
    Making it obligatory for parents to go to school and check what their kids are doing.
    Making parents understand that learning only STARTS at school but continues at home and in the daily real life. (including parents in the process of teaching and learning)…

    This is not an exhaustive list, though. I’m sure other teachers could think of other suggestions.

    Thanks a lot Lynne 🙂

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  2. Abdelmjid Seghir Says:

    Sorry for not proofreading…again 😦

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  3. Lynne Diligent Says:

    Thanks for your detailed comment, Abdelmjid. Hopefully it will provoke some discussion here from other readers.

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  4. Lynne Diligent Says:

    Bruce Stewart commented in FB: “It is my fervent hope that it doesn’t have twenty years before the pendulum turns. Scrapping standardised examinations, moving to multi-age classrooms, having individual learning plans, allowing students to move through material at varying rates would all make a huge difference. Most of all, stop telling teachers how (precisely) to teach! — Instructional Resource Plans from the Ministry of Education end up becoming a “stay within the lines” exercise instead of an aid and starting point.”

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  5. Lynne Diligent Says:

    Comments of an English friend through email: “This is such a fraught subject. You have hit the nail on the head about swinging too far. Possibly in Maths it is not too bad at this level, but in History it is totally and utterly unproductive, or counter-productive to be precise.

    On the on one hand, there are intelligent girls amongst my daughter’s friends who cannot read properly and have no idea about spelling, or even what ‘to spell’ means. They are the products of primary schools where specific learning objectives were abandoned completely, but we have gone from reasonable objectives – such ‘learn to read a passage of text’ with examples of the type of text the child should be able to read, to these micro-granulated ‘achievements’ that serve to obscure the actual objective.

    By chance I heard a debate on the radio and there was one lone voice who was brave enough to tackle this granulated approach at the university level. His idea was that as access to university has been opened up to ever more students, huge numbers of students who are not able to benefit from a ‘real’ university education have been sucked into the system. The response has been to quantity even degree courses into lists and lists of learning objectives, each one teachable and easily assessed in an objective and easily marked way. His idea was that far from giving more students a university-style experience, the universities themselves have been down-graded into technical colleges, which were abolished under John Major.”

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  6. Balanced Melting Pot Says:

    Hmmm, I was actually feeling that this was the opposite vis-a-vis the US. Well, maybe not the opposite, but you get the impression that the US and Canada want the best of the best from other countries. President Obama stated that he wanted to make it easier for foreign students to stay in the US after graduating because they were essentially taking the skills they acquired in the US to their own countries. He wanted to the US to benefit from the “investment”, as well. I can see how this is the case for many European countries where such robust social service systems makes it really difficult to absorb foreigners. Also, with the focus being different in those countries in terms of what is successful, it makes sense that they want more foreigners to stay in their countries of origin. In a way this may be a losing battle because globalization is here to stay (for the time being). I hope one day we can completely eliminate borders, as this seems to be the root of many conflicts.

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    • Lynne Diligent Says:

      Perhaps this has more to do with the level or class of worker. No doubt the immigrant workers President Obama is encouraging to stay are highly skilled and also have skills in American English, as compared to a lower class of immigrant worker who wants to leave his own country for economic reasons. Workers with college degrees earned in OTHER countries who are looking to come to the U.S. might find it harder than those who went to school in the U.S. It’s an interesting point you bring up, I had not heard of it.

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