References from documentation for NGOs and Teachers)
Tanvi Patel and CED DocumentationTeam
Quality of Quality Education
While no one will dispute
that quality of education should be improved, the debate lies in what
do we mean by it.
Every year we find the
percentage bar for admission to colleges, goes up. More students are
scoring high nineties than ever before. Is this a sign of quality?
Every year we are also producing a large army of matriculates,
graduates, and post-graduates, all of whom finally end up taking up
jobs which do not need that higher level of education. Does this
Except for the
professional courses like Medical, Engineering, Management and now
Media Studies, there is no real need level demanded off the
educational system. The irony lies in the fact that most jobs
require abilities like good communication, analytical, or
methodological skills. None of these are tested in the examination
system and entrance examinations which actually act as the main
arbiter of “merit” and are actually responsible for the structure
of the entire education system.
Thus there seems to be a
consensus on the purpose of education, as the preparation for jobs,
the race for which it relies on an examination system which despite
reforms, ends up raising the quality of the art of scoring at
examinations, most finely tuned by the coaching classes methodology.
Every year, one needs to
score more marks to get into those colleges and institutions, which
by their reputation, place one in the qualitatively higher job
circuit. Contrast this scaling of higher peaks, to the abysmal record
of primary education particularly, in rural India and among the poor
Consider the scenario
where one answers a hundred and one questions in three hours, after
attending coaching classes, which “scientifically” train a person
on how to select portions of choice and cover syllabus, and answer
both objective and subjective questions. In contrast, consider
someone who helps his family harvest the Rabi crop or tends to
draught animals, burns an oil lamp to study midnight and then walks
two kilometers to school the next day to study Geography of Mumbai or
some Math problem.
The entire emphasis on
the examination as the final arbiter of quality has promoted rote
based learning, and text book centered information reproduction.
The other judge of the
quality of education is in terms of how it shapes and impacts the
students. Does the education equip you to express yourself clearly,
formulate and communicate your ideas, understand and interpret
natural and manmade systems?
Perhaps one of the
important reasons why the computer and Internet has caught on is that
the child learns to play with it, understand how it works, whether
s/he is playing games or some quiz. However even that creativity is
sought to be killed as the emphasis in computer education is on,
testing whether you know how to do the most obscure routine in a
application rather than how you would go about finding out how to do
Concern for quality has
remained vague and poorly anchored in social theory. The processes
and imperatives associated with global competitiveness in the face of
rapid technological change and financial uncertainty have taken their
toll on children's right to grow up and be educated in a protective
ethos. The problems are not entirely new, but seem greatly compounded
by the use of the market as the sole reference point for judging the
worth of an idea or policy. Since knowledge and training are as
critical as factors in the current political economy, education at
every level is being called upon to be market-oriented and
market-worthy. This situation has created the apprehension that the
concept of education itself may be in a state of crisis.
The issue of quality
cannot be seen in isolation from the socio-cultural context of
education. Any attempt to reform education, whether in a developed or
a developing society, ultimately addresses our perspective on
modernity, more specifically, on how the project of modernization is
doing in the early 21st century, where it is heading, and what
correctives it requires. Ever since the idea of mass education became
an assumed goal of state policy, the role of the school has been to
spread the culture of reason. Such a culture necessarily carries a
transformative responsibility towards the milieu, and it is in the
fulfilling of that responsibility that the system has performed less
The debate of quality can
also be looked at from two other similar dichotomies. One: quality in
the sense of its essence, or character. This is more or less
philosophical and ideological. Gandhi spoke of Nai Taleem, a
pedagogic education system merging the world of work and the world of
knowledge, which encompassed his ideas on social-economic-political
transformation; his redefinition of progress, development, and human
life; his regeneration of Parampara (tradition); and his vision of
Swaraj. Philosophers generally see the essence of education along the
same lines as their respective philosophies. J Krishnamurthy calls
for an education which eliminates fear, so that education can chance
upon the significance and essence of life. Psychologists, depending
on their persuasion, drew their conclusion on the purpose of
education, As a consequence, the quality is measures on how well
these purposes are served.
Krishna Kumar gives the
contrasts the precepts between the Behaviorist and Contructionist,
which then inform the expectations of socialisations and “education”
from that schools, based on which parameters and benchmarks of
quality are determined.
about the child’s nature
to the environment
with the environment
pedagogies; definition of knowledge
as something received and to be transmitted
|| Ideas and
innovations associated with Rousseau,
Dewey and Montessori
Knowledge created by action and in the course of relating to reality
looks for proof of learning
observes and responds to the child’s
(History of Quality
Debate, Krishna Kumar and Padma M. Sarangapani, Contemporary
Education Dialogue, Vol 2:1, Monsoon 2004, page 30. [J.
Krishna Kumar highlights
that this aspect of the quality debate brings into focus neglected
- Teachers’ self identity as professionals
and their need for
autonomy in curriculum and textbook designing.
- Importance of philosophical resources in
intrinsic value and characteristics of human beings, and their close
links with education.
- Democratic theories for equality of
when in the current neo-liberal regime, quality is associated with
- Education will always need reform, and
therefore planners and
donor must continue to invest in it, despite the current donor-donee
fatigue, following need to show success and exaggerate it.
- Greater involvement of parents and
community, bringing out new
responsive, professionalism of teachers.
- Relevance of education for the poor,
serving their immediate
economic and cultural needs, while enabling them the choice to access
modernization on their terms.
Each of these factors has
tremendous implications for organizations providing innovations in
education. Many of us need to take time out, to consider these, and
allow these to inform the innovative systems, capacity building as
well as institution building efforts.
The second aspect of
quality lies in measurement, and comparing to certain standards.
Borrowed from industrial management, This view of quality depends on
some critical specifications, most of them quantitative – How much
do you know? Certain minimum standards are set -- 30 percent out of
the 50% choice for third class, 45 for second and 60 for first! You
don’t need to know how to ask the right questions? Nor how to use
the right answer. These too have tremendous implications for
innovators, as the new systems must have definite answers and
alternatives, if they are to pass the standards set by these quality
True, the understanding
is that the fulfilling of these standards makes for good education.
This premise and its changing relevance in different situations and
paradigm, is often not questioned. Thus standards tend to be same
for the urban elite student and for the first generation learners.
And since all parameters are never evenly scored, or emphasized,
these have increasingly skewed conclusions.
However for lack of any
other objective external monitoring, much is made of this method.
The GOI and UNICEF are
working in close collaboration with state governments, teachers, and
local communities across India to design and demonstrate the Quality
Package Project in 14,000 primary schools.
Considerable sophisticated attempts have been made to define
quality such that it find meaning for both aspects of quality. (Quality
Specifications in Schools,, UNICEF, June 2004.[R.N21.29]
factors impacting quality
|| Availability and use of
Continuous assessment by teachers of students’ understanding of the
material being taught.
Child-centred teaching-learning practices.
Time devoted to teaching by teachers (having more than one job has a
detrimental impact on students' learning achievements.
and supply of essential
teaching-learning materials (identification of minimum learning
teacher’s command of the subject matter.
Ongoing professional development for the teacher, including in-service
training and in-school support.
Regular evaluation of teaching-learning practices by supervisors.
teacher training and support to
improve active learning, continuous supportive student
assessment and rational class management; (DIETS, BRCs and CRCs; and
| School and
size/separate room for each class.
Health programmes such as, de-worming.
Availability of clean drinking water & separate toilets for girls.
to school environment and
facilities (community and local bodies).
in mapping and quality assessment
Promotion of community participation.
NGOs to build community capacities. School development plans.
The non school factors
those of the community, economy and household factors though
important and determining somehow seem out of the purview of these
persons at the
cluster level, head-teachers and community representatives will be
trained in mapping the quality status of the school system at the
local level against each parameter. This participatory process, which
puts the responsibility for mapping upon the main beneficiaries, is
aimed at improving the quality of the process and facilitating better
ownership of subsequent plans.
Prof. A. Gnanam
Committee that has prepared a revised curriculum and syllabus for
matriculation schools has mooted this external quality review (EQR)
system to make the institutions strive for self-improvement and make
them voluntarily conscious of the need to improve quality and deliver
better education. For long, matriculation schools have been seen as
those run by educational entrepreneurs whose sole objective is to
make money, with very few institutions seeking to provide high
quality education. Even their striving for quality was oriented more
towards getting higher pass percentage so that it becomes a ruse for
hiking fees and other charges. Many parents from middle classes who
want to give their children English medium education crowd such
institutions, unmindful of the fee structure, officials and academics
involved in the system note.
EQR system has been
mooted by the Prof. Gnanam Committee in lieu of the present
'inspection system' for matriculation schools. In a mass education
system where the number of institutions is too large and mobility of
students is happening across large distances, an inspectorate type of
regulation might not bring in the expected enhancement of essential
proposed EQR system
combines internal responsibilities with external reference points and
leads the institutions towards self improvement, the report notes. -
Review system mooted to improve quality of unaided schools, K.
Ramachandran, The Hindu, 15/10/2004 [C.ELDOC.N20.15oct04h1.pdf]
Quality Assessment Tools
- Opinion survey of parents to gauge school
- School managements’ tools aimed at
- Assessment report cards for schools every
two years along with
standard indicators of educational outcomes.
of the suggestions for improving
quality that have come up so far are:
- Increasing number of working days to 200.
- Ensuring attendance of teachers,
involving parents, panchayats,
- Reducing non teaching responsibilities
like Census, Election
- Promotional opportunities for teachers.
- At least two teachers and two classrooms
- Teacher student ratio maximum 1:30.
- Primary Education in mother tongue.
- Joyful learning environment.
- Activity Based Learning.
- Encouraging questioning attitude and self
- Vocational/skill training at later stage.
- Self monitoring, assessment through
- School timings and vacations as per local
agricultural seasons, festivals etc.
order to enhance accountability,
Local Bodies like Panchayat Raj should be given more control of
implementation of government policies. Monitoring and R eview
functions should be handled by Village Education committees, and
Parents-Teachers Association given the task of ratifying decisions on
academic matters including planning and development functions, which
should be more in control of the principal.
quality assessment is expected to
be participatory and involve all stake holders: the teachers, the
parents & community, the government policy & funding, NGOs
and civil society. The NGOs particularly have a dual task of finding
out and developing innovative solutions, and practices, as well as
ensuring that these participatory processes, particularly the
involvement of the community and parental education is of a high
other task for NGOs, and civil
society actors, is to ensure that the household level factors, like
economic situation, cultural practices, and employment opportunities
are taken care of.
For further reading:
of the Debate on
Quality-Krishna Kumar article
Specifications in Schools,
United Nations Children's Fund, 01/06/2004, [R.N21.29]