Quality Analysis Of Education

by | Feb 24, 2020

It is refreshing to take some time off from the screen, going out for the day – go shopping one’s clothes. I am mostly delighted as I move from brand to brand looking for that perfect bag or find that perfect fit blouse, with a very acceptable cloth weight, clean seams and breathtaking colour that perfectly suits me. Here, the quality has to be good, cuts have to be clean and seams flawless. This feeling only lasts when you see a high-end version of it. Now that is considered a top-notch quality. It has more perfect seams and more perfect cuts. But this is unfair. How did quality change all of a sudden? I was perfectly fine with the first one, but it only lasted until I saw that with all shine and bling and a brand value.

The word ‘quality’ means attribute, property or basic nature of an object. However, nowadays it can be defined as the degree of excellence or superiority. Quality is everywhere. We look for quality in everything we use, do, want or expect. It’s like a giant bubble of satisfaction that everyone wants to touch. Same goes for education …

But when we talk about quality, what do we mean? We may compare the quality of similar things and concentrate on their absence but otherwise, it is difficult to plant the idea into words. Context is important. And so is perspective. One’s position within the education system influences how he/she defines quality to a larger degree than it does to the receiver. To a student, quality could be found in attentive staff, response to questions, or a comfortable learning environment. To an administrator, it could represent process adherence and goal achievement. To a provider, it may mean implementation of best practices or capacity for critical thinking. To a course designer, it may be based on learning outcome.

Having said this, I have realized the whole idea of quality is quite subjective, and here quality of education follows the same path. How do we justify quality? The education that we had, was it a quality? Based on who’s understanding? Unfortunately, there is no universal definition of what is good quality education. However, there are some said fundamentals, sensibly quantifiable that no definition can bear to miss:

  • equips students with age and grade learning appropriate ability to read, write and perform arithmetic operations (learning/subject knowledge)
  • prepares students to grow into responsible members of the society (values)
  • equips students with skills and knowledge that would help them financially independent (employability)
  • Then there are several other difficult to measure desirable aspects such as personality development, self-defense sports, second language, hobbies, extracurricular activities etc. Just which combination is most valuable to anyone is not a decision that others can take.

Here we are also standardising the learning abilities based on grades and age appropriateness. There is a big gap when we speak of quality education. It varies for students coming from privileged versus lesser privileged backgrounds. One of the problems is if one parameter like the first in the list above, is not fulfilled then what intervention should take place? Quality education just speaks about set parameters but not the later bit. To top it we have commodified various models of education. If the quality is not filled, extra help is taken up by the parents to fill that hole and there comes tutors, both online and offline who have made it a showbiz business.

One out of every four students in India takes private tuition and in a couple of states more than three out of every four students, or over 75%, opt for it, according to a report by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO)

Read article here

Even quality come with two aspects – Static and Dynamic. It should remain static with factors as above but the dynamic part should also be considered as in contextualizing of learning materials time to time depending on region, learning levels and it should keep evolving with time. These two things should be worked upon simultaneously not one after the other. But here we are still tackling with Government schools as known for educator non-attendance, poor learning levels, lack of basic amenities and discrimination between students belonging to different backgrounds. In any case, tragically, poor guardians can’t manage the cost of elite schools. So, they send their kids to simple to manage the cost of tuition-based schools. These schools don’t have extravagant foundation or lavishly paid instructors; however, they oblige to the basic needs in terms of amenities and fare better than government schools in teacher accountability and hence learning levels. This does encourage rivalry even among these reasonably decent what we call ‘low cost private schools’.

Image clicked by India Fellow 2018, Usma, placed in Tamarind Tree, Dahanu – where Rupali (author and India Fellow 2019) also works with tribal kids on an innovative learning approach that hinges on digital facilitation and self learning

Another setback that comes from the ground level is that we do try to inspire students to have aspirations but fail to provide them with detailed information or infrastructure to actually fulfill it. They should be provided with information about the current scenario and where they stand and what can be done. By the time they manage to figure all this out by themselves; time has usually passed and they then need to earn bread, especially students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Inclusive education should also not be separated. It should be a part of the system. Though some institutions have started practicing – they again fall in the elite centers or special centers.

Education, i believe, should not be standardized nor learning materials or tools. Standardization is one of the major aspects that should break and customisation should take its place. Especially in a country like India, where purpose of education is different for different people. We have several sets of languages, cultures, values, definitions of success or happiness – choice is a fundamental need.

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  1. Nikhil Kanakamedala

    Without standardisation we can’t reach the masses. Standards should allow for customisation, though.

  2. Nikhil Kanakamedala

    Without standardisation we can’t reach the masses. Standards should allow for customisation, though.


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