Influences of globalisation and local development motives (1990 onwards): Robust and enhanced orientation towards ELE
Globalisation, a 21 st century phenomenon, has been considered to be a significant, worldwide factor influencing ELEP in developing countries, including Bangladesh.The scholarly discussions (e.g. Rizvi, 2007) asserted that globalisation is not merely a historical antecedent. Rather, it works as an inevitable consequence of colonialism in guise of a macro-level process, and so diffuses changes and demands into the political, economic, social, education, technological, and cultural interconnection across the globe. Therefore, globalisation is nothing more than serving the policies and interests of the powerful international forces and elites.
From the 1990s onwards (Table 2.1), an enhanced and robust attitude towards ELEP rhetoric was observed in Bangladesh, indicating a necessity of, on the one hand, disentangling with past rigidities and austerities caused by the fervour of decolonisation and, on the other hand, symbiotically keeping pace with the impetus of globalisation (supra-national) and local development (national/local) motives. It is the marriage of EL and globalisation, whether arranged
(Phillipson, 1992) or co-incidental (Crystal, 1997), that has driven individuals, societies, and the nation towards ELE (Hamid, 2016). Recognising EL proficiency as an essential work-oriented skill, a tool for employability and development, the policy made ELE compulsory from Grade 1 in Bangladesh, introduced EL as a compulsory course at tertiary level, and revised ELE curriculum and books around the ideology of communicative language teaching (CLT).
Lately, a series of discourses in the form of policies and promises in curriculum, methods, materials, and evaluation sector of ELE were revised and redeveloped to accelerate the country’s socio-economic and human resource capacity effectively and qualitatively in line with the global economy. For instance, the NEP 2010 promulgated the importance of ELE by defining its aims and objectives for developing a knowledge-oriented, skilled human resource so that “[students] can compete in the job market, especially in the economic sector of the country” and also “they [students) can successfully compete at the global context" (policy no. 11 & 12, Ministry of Education, 2010, p. 9). Having realised the global call for human resource development within the national context, CLT approach was firmly recommended as a pedagogical innovation. Following the revised National Curriculum of English guidelines, English Textbook series were redesigned and redeveloped in 2012. ELE assessment policy was also reconstructed by including listening and speaking tests in school-based continuous assessment scheme with a view to enable and ensure students’ competency in four skills of EL (see Nur, 2019 for details).The policy trend, in turn, encouraged and legitimised the private enterprise of education — English version schools of national curriculum, English-medium schools, and 97 private universities (BANBE1S, 2018). These policy directions, thus, appear to contradict the post-independent LEP, which were promoting Bangla in every sphere of national life, including education.
In summary, LEP in a country cannot take place in vacuum; rather it is influenced by and closely related to supra-national as well as national level socio-politico-economic and educational sine-qua-non (Kirkpatrick & Liddicoat, 2017). The history of ELEP in the Bangladeshi context, thus, suggests a clear indication of a ‘post-colonial puzzle’ (Canagarajah, 2005), that is, a tension between the imposition of colonisation, the idealism of decolonisation and nationalism, and the emergence of globalisation (Figure 2.2). This complex notion could also be equated with what Pennycook (2017), regarding ELEP in decolonised and developing countries, put together as a dystopian assumption of linguistic imperialism, resistance, and a utopian vision of linguistic and global capital. EL and ELEP in Bangladesh was a direct consequence of colonialism, which later on was seen to be relegated in terms of usage and scope in public domains including education sector due to the strong fervour of nationalism of the decolonised Bangladesh. However, the symbiotic force of globalisation and nation development motives gradually led to the reinstatement of ELE. EL, being the de facto lingua franca of international communication and globalisation, has become a much sought-after commodity. Such rich yet complex infrastructure of ELEP also requires a critical evaluation of its consequences, which is presented in the following section.