Language Education Policy Studies
An International Network

LEP by World Region

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Education for All and Economic Inequality

Like English, Education is embraced by many as a salvation metanarrative, while standardizing through such initiatives as Education for All is often done under the guise of Globalization. People have been led to believe that formal schooling, usually in a dominant language, is equal to education and success. Education has become formal schooling only, and formal schooling has become vocational rather than humanistic and cultural. History, in particular of Indigenous and ‘minority’ groups, is often misleading or even omitted. Teachers must teach to the test and standards.


The spread of Education for All by UNESCO for example includes international models and standards of pedagogy, teacher education, curriculum, assessment- often in English. It is assimilative. Within such context, many call for reconceptualizing education (see Deep Education). Pedagogy, training, and organization of schooling have to be changed (Skutnabb-Kangas, 2009). Language Education has become a multi-billions business. Global indicators based on high stakes exams, enrollment numbers and other development indicators are often tied to English, Education and formal schooling.


Education is also the primary applied science. “The preeminence of Western science, in our unstable, inequitable militarized world, is recent, and legitimated as though knowledge societies are a late capitalist invention” (Skutnabb-Kangas, 2009). Dominant Education institutions reproduce the status quo and create even more inequalities through testing that is often the sole way to succeed. Schooling is most often in a dominant language through overt and covert language in education polices, and success lies in high stakes exams that are tied to standards. Recently, even students have begun protesting high stakes exams, claiming they want to learn, and not be judged by a test.


Without mother tongue education or multilingual and deep education that can validate cultural diversity, the inequalities continue to increase. (See What is LEPs, Language Discrimination.)

VIDEOS I will not let an exam rate decide my fate (Spoken Word). Kids protesting outside Pearson. School to prison rates studied via exams. Children left behind by exams.


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This information was originally published on the website of the International Network for Language Education Policy Studies ( as

Harrison, K. M. (2013). Education for All and Inequality. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved from: (access date). 

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