Where Does Quality Education Come From?

Just read an excellent article by Meeta Sengupta, an educator and advisor specializing in business education, talking about what exactly we mean when we talk about quality education. As she writes, we now have nearly full enrollment at primary schools across India, but how can we ensure that students actually stay in the system? Only by providing a quality education that will add value to their lives, posits Sengupta.

Those who leave education at or after primary school are often stuck at lower income (and health) levels than those who are able to complete higher standards. The value of higher education, as reflected in salary levels, is clearly proven in India. But efforts to retain students in education may not be fruitful if the quality of education they receive is not good.

But despite the consensus on the sub-par quality of Indian education, students from India still perform better on standardized tests, and continue to be in demand at the best schools across the globe. What determines quality, then, asks Sengupta:

Should the Government take on the responsibility of certifying quality? To an extent, it already does that via the recognition and appraisal processes. The National Assessment and Accreditation Council also publishes a ranking, and certifies equivalence with international degrees. A number of newspapers and magazines also rank schools and institutions based on standard criteria that are a composite of achievement, resources and other outcomes — a change from the traditional ratings based on academic achievement.

Even the Right to Education Act incorporates an awareness of quality education by imposing requirements of minimum acreage, playgrounds and libraries, for instance. This may be good in theory but offers no insight into how much learning is actually happening in a school. If schools are tested on inputs rather than on realisation of individual potential then we are certainly not clear on what quality education means. We are then measuring the wrong things.

So how do we measure quality in education? Ask the learners, advises Sengupta:

So, who should decide what quality really means? Should it be decided by academics in their ivory towers? Or by policy-making babus? Or by journalists and analysts who build the ranking mechanisms? Ultimately, all of these are outsiders in the education system. The true judges of quality ought to be the stakeholders who make decisions that affect their learning and their lives. They are the ones who are the final arbiters of quality and vote with their money and effort investments. Their investments must be supported with better information but must be led by those who must pay the price of quality education.

Read the complete article here: The real meaning of good education

About Ayesha Vemuri

Ayesha Vemuri is responsible for thought leadership and outreach efforts at CKS. She has undergraduate degree in Visual Art from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she also studied such varied subjects as biology, literature and the humanities. At CKS, she is responsible for curating the Design Public blog, managing our various social media platforms, organizing Pecha Kucha Nights and contributing to the intellectual content of the Design Public Conclave and other CKS initiatives. Find her on twitter at @ayeshavemuri.
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