Understanding Quality Education

Quality education is often referred to as high-level training supported by sophisticated facilities, rigorous standards and well-trained educators. For many, prestige is perhaps the biggest indicator when gauging educational quality and the effectiveness of schools or universities.For this reason, many students enrol at institutions with a ‘good reputation’. However, this distorted understanding of quality has made many lose faith in education because it hardly meets students’ expectations – and links an understanding of ‘quality’ with rarefied institutions to which only the rich can send their children.
Simply put, quality education refers to a modern-day teaching and learning management system applied through a continuous process of control, inspection and verification against an established set of standards. Quality is all about the student, who deserves excellence in how and what he or she is being taught. Therefore, any institution with an enlightened understanding of quality education can make a lasting impact in their students’ capacity, thereby helping them achieve their full potential.
The need for an inclusive, well-managed education system is crucial for Ethiopia. John Kenneth Galbraith (PhD), the noted economist and diplomat, suggested that quality education should be a cornerstone of development: “The present educational system in developing countries, however, is deficient in that it does not promote the urge for self-improvement and excellence, nor does it strengthen the resolve to banish poverty.”
In its most pragmatic sense, quality education aims to generate capable human capital with the skills and understanding to compete in the global job market, thereby helping people take charge of their professional and personal trajectories. In this way, it is an invincible force that can spur growth because it empowers people to be innovators, explorers, entrepreneurs, and risk takers – all of which can help propel a nation forward.
Therefore, it’s important that staff (teachers or trainers) and those in educational management develop a clear understanding of ‘quality’ – one that is accessible to all – and build effective skills and understanding that will assist educators to lead those who need their guidance and support, inspire students and help them to meet the challenges ahead.
This entails hiring and training capable, competent educators who are privy to the needs of their students. Specifically, teachers should identify and nurture the natural talents and interests of their students. When students are directed towards topics and subjects that motivate them – in addition to general topics in the arts and sciences – they are more likely to become knowledgeable, confident and responsible.
This type of educational nurturing will improve students’ attitudes and further hone their talents, producing confident citizens who know how and what to contribute to their communities. The confidence that comes from the cultivation of a student’s natural talents may translate to other subjects, as students will have a framework through which they can understand how they learn. Having this understanding will also help students translate what they have been taught in class into real-life situations.
Overall, the country’s education system should strive to make students self-reliant, not dependent on direction from others. To achieve this outcome, it’s important that the Ministry of Education (MoE) establish indicators that empower a student to understand who he or she is. What is a student’s individual aptitude, potential and natural gifts? What can he or she do better than others? The main responsibilities of teachers should be to help students understand and determine these traits.
Quality education is all about working with, recreating, rebuilding and educating today’s children and youth to be vibrant, capable adults. The main group of actors of quality education encompasses those who work from the institution’s gate all the way to school’s head and university presidents. If the management of an educational establishment is able to introduce a contemporary but comprehensive quality education management system, it will benefit individual students, parents, institutions and the nation.
Once the system is introduced, the collective result is measured using the following three key parameters. The first is meeting the national requirements and criteria. These are assessable outcomes and standards set by the MoE. The parameters include determining the expectations of the MoE and involve important questions: What are the qualifications and expected standards? Here, competence can be measured in terms of knowledge, skills, understanding and change in attitude plus performance observed during assessment, which should focus on analytical thinking more than rote memorisation.
The second metric by which to gage quality is student satisfaction. We don’t learn for the sake of learning; rather, students learn to fulfil skill gaps and satisfy their aspirations for confidence and excellence. Assessing satisfaction should answer questions like what makes students satisfied and how do we make sure they are satisfied?
The third is meeting students’ expectations. Learners expect to gain new skills, knowledge and a sense of where they hope to go professionally and personally. Therefore the teaching and learning process should address the student’s expectations. This has to be identified as soon as possible. Does the teaching process have the capacity to empower, inspire, challenge and create expectations at the earliest possible stages?
While quality education requires the support of policymakers, curriculum developers or school inspectors, the school’s management system plays a key role for its success. If the system in place is not dedicated to support, enrich, develop and reassure educators to do their jobs passionately and with professional competence, the gap between a teacher’s interest to educate and the student’s appetite to learn will grow wider.
Hence, when quality education is proposed for any educational establishment, staff should have the opportunity to look into the contemporary teaching and training system and observe its practical application in order to understand the impact of an educator’s attitude towards teaching and a learner’s appetite for learning. Additionally, the reasons behind effective and efficient assessment techniques, the direct impact of lesson observation and class supervision on the school’s performance and its standards will be recognised.
Implementing a quality education management system is one of the most important aspects of a school’s mission. For this reason, it is crucial for any educational establishment aiming to thrive in a competitive market to develop and train staff in the principles of quality education. This entails equipping educators on how to apply quality education by practicing assessment techniques and conducting regular lesson observation in addition to nurturing staff and student development.
To do this, the MoE should implement student-centered initiatives within a few model schools to test their outcomes. This is because the implementation of quality education is a challenging task. Once the lessons have been gleaned from a particular set of schools, the best practices can then be disseminated to other schools.
Renowned biologist and cognitive scientist Humberto Maturana (PhD) argues that education is “a means of transformation of behaviour and our purpose [and] not simply the accumulation of representations of the environment [like collecting certificates and degrees], but a real change in who we are”. Therefore, implementing quality education at a national level requires time, patience and a clear understanding of the concept and concrete ways to achieve it.
The aforementioned performance indicators have to be used to quantify the institution’s successes and failures; identify problems; and develop improved objectives whereby all those involved in the system will commit themselves to advance the nation’s educational quality management system. Unless these guiding principles are observed with an in-depth understanding, and are carefully translated into practice, the dream to improve the quality education will be far from reach.

4th Year • October 16 2016 – November 15 2016 • No. 44


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