Carolyn Gallaher (2009) defined neoliberalism as the modern term for the economic principle known as the laissez-faire which basically holds the principle that economy must stand on its own, that is, without government interference, for it to work efficiently and effectively. Government intervention in the form of tariffs, quotas and subsidies is neglected in the concept of neoliberalism. With this definition, neoliberalism “has underpinned educational policy shifts around the world over the last two decadesâ€¦ it is the self-responsibilizing, self-capitalizing individual that is the desired product of neoliberal education policy reforms” (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010, p. 184). Such was the goal of neoliberalism in the realm of schooling and so as to propagate its objective, neoliberal policies are drafted and imposed to societies. These policies penetrated almost all possible channels and education was not an exemption. As such, these neoliberal policies act as educational imperatives which are made to adapt the changing global phenomena which are larger and more encompassing than the scope of the struggles among specific groups. Challenges arise because of the decreasing influence and power of the government to pursue its commitment to educational opportunity and equality. Without a doubt, the state machineries to secure the welfare of its people under the educational institutions are undermined, In addition, neoliberal policies on education imply that schools dependence on market and privatization options that will certainly delimit educational right to a mere privilege for only few people would now have access to education ((Rizvi & Lingard, 2010). It is but necessary to state that political dynamics in education at the global framework involves a more complex and dynamic interplay of different ideologies and interests.
All of the points discussed above, from the perspectives lying inside the school to the factors shaping the school as an institution itself up to the global context, do have its certain degree of pedagogical implications. With specific focus on the global policies imposed on education, Burbules and Torres (2000) stated how neoliberalism affected educational practice:
“In educational terms, there is a growing understanding that the neoliberal version of globalizationâ€¦is reflected in an educational agenda that privileges, if not directly imposes, particular policies for evaluation, financing, assessment, standard, teacher training, curriculum, instruction, and testing” (Burbules & Torres, 2000, p. 8).
On the other hand, educational reforms produced an impact on educational practice through pedagogical adjustments. This implies either a structural form of pedagogy in which attention is drawn to educational organizations. Delineation of their goals, hierarchies, formal roles and responsibilities, interaction among its members and formal strategies that coordinate them towards common objectives, and finally, the coordination of their work with its external environment was their pedagogical focus. Whereas, the political perspective had its focus on individual and group self-interests, conflict, and power (Conley & Cooper, 1991). It is also significant to note that educational policies or reforms which seek to improve education “have shifted toward restructuring the work environments of schools, redefining teacher’s roles and responsibilities, and redistributing leadership and power within schools” (Conley & Cooper, p. 201). Yet, an important factor to take into consideration when implementation of reforms or adjustments on pedagogy was to take place is the compatibility of these initiatives with the existing culture of schools (Conley & Cooper, 1991). However, as what have been stated above, global trends which are associated with the concept of neoliberalism do not follow such “compatibility” factor because the mechanism was to impose neoliberal policies regardless of its consequences on the culture of societies. What matters most for the proponents of neoliberalism were the economic implications of these policies for the benefit of the few dominant groups.