European and international organizations in educational policy: The OECD and policy by numbers

Phaedra Mantzou, National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
Published online: 19 April 2019, JCETR, 3(1), pp. 25-30.

URN: urn:nbn:de:0111-pedocs-190872, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3598713

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Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to study the role of European and international organizations in educational policy and the governance of the European education space. It is argued that the influence of transnational and supranational organizations on the discourses and practices of education systems in the European Union contributes to the creation of a “Globally Structured Educational Agenda” whose main purpose is the linking of education systems to the services of the global economy. The educational policy of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) especially plays a crucial role in shaping the European education space by exploiting policy by numbers as a tool and way of governance. Special attention is given to the class of experts / technocrats who as policy actors that shape educational policy transform the European education space. It is also claimed that the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a key policy tool with strong international influence, is considered to be an extremely important hub for the governance of European education by numbers, aiming to improve the quality of education systems. Additionally, it is argued that governing by data establishes the idea of Europe as a Knowledge Economy, an idea expressed in the strategic goal set out in 2000 by the European Council of Lisbon, “making the European Union the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world”. On the other hand, this paper examines skepticism expressed by researchers over the increasing use of numbers for evaluating education systems, for they lead to the establishment of an audit culture and the creation of a global Panopticon in a “measurable” Europe of Knowledge, governed by numbers. Prospects for further research in the field of comparative education are examined, aiming to create different schemes for measuring the quality of education systems, where humanitarian values will be at the forefront.

Keywords: OECD, European education space, policy by numbers