“Localization”, “globalization”, “regionalization”, “adaption”… within the last six months we got acquainted with so many “-tions” related to education in a varying ways. Recently we learned one more – “harmonization”. Previously I have associated this word with relations, mind condition, and mood. But education?! How education can be harmonized? Let’s try to comprehend this term in a new perspective.
According to Yavaprabhas (2014), harmonization of higher education “means having ‘a point of reference’ for the comparison of the qualities and capabilities of students from different universities in different countries ” (p. 87). The goal of harmonization is to develop and enhance higher education system making it compatible, but at the same time to keep local diversity and identity. Sometimes harmonization is mistakenly considered as the synonym of regionalization. Despite the fact that both of these terms are broad and their definitions vary from author to author, there is a slight difference between them. Regionalization implies the “sense of homogeneity and uniformity” (p. 86), although some authors use this term emphasizing the reverse. While harmonization is free of such implications.
Why harmonization is important? Let’s consider it on the example of Southeast Asia. Taking into account the increasing global competition, it is clear that countries should unite and cooperate to strengthen their economies rather than acting alone. But to make a cohesive and strong community, it is essential to “bring higher education among the nations in the region closer” (p. 87) as education is a foundation of economic, political, and sociocultural aspects. Thus, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)are striving to harmonize their education systems to make their region more competitive on a global arena. To achieve this goal, they are working on four educational factors: degree system, quality assurance system, credit system, and academic calendar system (p. 94). Harmonizing all four systems will let ASEAN educational systems become closer.
In conclusion, it can be said that harmonization is a new vision of bringing together different education systems and making them conjunct. In the current era of globalization, it is an effective way for strengthening countries and it seems like it will become even more popular as time goes by.
What do you think about harmonization?
Yavabrabhas, S. (2014). The harmonization of higher education in Southeast Asia. In Emerging International Dimensions in East Asian Higher Education (81-102). Netherlands: Springer.