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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Need for a Mandatory Standard for Quality School Governance

Dr. Divya Singhal
Keshav Ram Singhal

Courtesy - Quality Striving for Excellence, April - June 2012

Power of education

Education is power. Education has power to change everything. Education is empowerment in many ways. It has power to eradicate ignorance, poverty and make individuals become independent. Education is the pathway to any nation-building in many ways:
• Education creates an enlightened society, a society build by responsive and responsible citizen
• Education enables the nation with ‘meritocratic’ bureaucracy with competent human resources to carry out day-to-day affairs of the state
• Education increases democratic participation of people as it enables people with more awareness
• Education increases people level of understanding that is very crucial to unite in diversity
• Education creates large number of professionals that are important resources for a strong society, a society set for development
• Education shapes the attitudes and behaviours and attitudes of citizens

Education alters an individual’s and even community’s collective perceptions, aspirations’ goals as well as the ability and the means to attain them. The level and spread of education has not only been an important precondition for sustained economic growth, both in the developed and the developing countries, but it has also played a critical facilitative role in the demographic, social and political transition of these Societies.Education is both an input and an output of the human development process. As input, education is indispensable for progress in all spheres of human development. As output, education is the axiom for building-up human capabilities, a focal interest of human development, given its primary role in enabling people to fully participate in socioeconomic and political development.

Accordingly, education correlates with nation-build. A nation cannot be built without education.

S. P. Punalekar writes that, "Education is considered pivotal for socioeconomic development strategies". Education is now conceived as Human Resource Development. He stated "Above all we need equalization of educational including opportunities and enrichment of social content in education including curricular restructuring. Social and cultural distance among the sections of students must be minimized.”

We cannot live without worthwhile access to education. If we look to developed nation, we find that these nations are set to impart knowledge through varied technology means. The future of a country depends largely upon the future of education. Reforms in education as the most important vision that we need to implement in order to reap its dividends.

Education, as fundamental right

In India, our policy makers have realized the importance of declaring education as the fundamental right. The Right of children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (also known as Right to Education Act – RTE), passed by the Indian parliament on 4 August 2009, has come into force from 1 April 2010. The Right of children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 provides norms and standards to be fulfilled by every school related to: (i) Pupil teacher ratios at primary and upper-primary level, (ii) building norms to provide for all weather building, barrier free access, separate toilets for boys and girls, safe drinking water, kitchen facility, play ground etc., (iii) Minimum number of working days, (iv) Minimum number of working hours per week per teacher, (v) teacher learning equipment, (vi) Library, (vii) play material, games and sports equipment. This Act also requires all private schools to enroll children from weaker sections and disadvantaged communities in their incoming class to the extent of 25% of their enrollment by simple random selection.

It is required to provide education to every child for nation building, for which we need to set some standardized norms in education sector and in this regard Right to Education Act is helpful in many ways. Following are the key points of the legislation that expects to empower the nation through education:
1. Free and compulsory education to all children of India in the 6 to14 age group
2. No child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until completion of elementary education (up to class eight)
3. A child who completes elementary education (up to Class 8) shall be awarded a certificate
4. Calls for a fixed student-teacher ratio;
5. The Act applies to all over India except Jammu and Kashmir
6. There will be 25 percent reservation for economically disadvantaged communities in all private and minority schools
7. The reservation for economically disadvantaged communities to start with Class One beginning 2011
8. Mandates improvement in quality of education;
9. School teachers will need adequate professional degree within five years or else will lose job;
10. School infrastructure (where there is problem) to be improved in three years, else recognition cancelled;
11. Financial burden will be shared between state and central government on the basis of ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ (Education for All).
12.. Private schools will have to face penalty for violating provisions of RTE Act.

Sixty-three years after independence, India has finally realized the importance of declaring education as our fundamental right. The notion of a fundamental right has great value in overcoming the objections and excuses that are consistently invoked to continue postponing the goal of universal elementary education. (PROBE Report)

Transforming education in India

While the government is making its efforts providing education to every child of the country, however, there is a challenge before the Indian authorities, how the education management can successfully address the need for quality education, and ensure its access even to those segment of population that are hard to reach. In this connection, NCQM past President Dr. R. H. G. Rau has rightly opined, “The challenge can be squarely met only when the country knits together the policy makers and the deployment contributors of the policies. We need to critically deliberate, discuss and debate on the initiatives taken so far and their measurable outcomes toward quality education across the country. Further, we need to arrive at what works to improve quality in both the existing and upcoming schools and colleges in all identified areas. This surely calls for a scientific and systematic study through better understanding of the global; initiatives that have shown positive results, and their adoption to Indian conditions.” (Quality Striving for Excellence, March-June 2010)

We have come across the infrastructure requirements for schools seeking CBSE affiliation. It states the following requirements:
- The school must have about 2 acres or as otherwise permitted measurement of land (owned by the school or the society running the school, or on lease for a minimum period of 30 years) and a building constructed on a part of land and proper playgrounds on the remaining land
- The school should have proper facilities commensurate with its requirements
- The school should provide minimum floor space of 1 square meter per student in the class-room
- The school will also provide proper facilities for physically challenged students
- The school should have suitable furniture in the class-rooms
- The school should have office equipments commensurate with the strength of students and staff
- The school should have needed equipment and facilities for science, home science, technical subjects, vocational subjects etc.
- The school should scrupulously observe prescription from local authority regarding safety, safe drinking water and sanitation
- The school should have at least 1 computer lab with minimum 10 computers or computer and students ratio of 1:20 and internet connection
- The school should have a well-equipped and spacious library with minimum of 1500 books and at least 15 magazine
- The school should maintain pupil-book ratio of 1:5

However, we notice that these are the requirements for schools that seek CBSE affiliation, not for all schools. At primary level education, schools are not required to seek CBSE affiliation, so it is required that the national policy makers should set minimum requirements for management and infrastructure of schools. Such framed requirements should be covered under statutory and/or regulatory requirements against which it should be mandatory for schools undergo yearly system audit.

During the National Quality Conclave of Quality Council of India (QCI), held on 9-10 February 2007 in New Delhi, the then President of India Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, gave the QCI a Seven-Point Action Plan, the first of which was developing benchmarks for schools. The then President referred to Quality of life encompassing Quality education with value system and productive employment. Accordingly, the QCI set before itself the task of developing a standard for accreditation supported with a rating system. The QCI, which provides the national accreditation structure to our country, entrusted the task to the Board that offers registration services for personnel and training courses. The Board’s education committee, after receiving inputs fro
m various interested parties, like educationists, administrators, Quality experts, teachers, parents and others, drafted the Educational Quality Management Standards (EQMS) for Schools.

The standard was developed by the QCI with a view to define and implement systems to:
• Provide educational services that aim to enhance satisfaction level of all interested parties,
• Provide a basis for assessing and, where required, rating the effectiveness of an educational Quality management system, and
• Develop Quality consciousness among interested parties involved in school activities.

QCI has issued ‘Accreditation Standard for Quality School Governance’ having requirements under following clauses –
Clause 4 – Educational quality management system
Clause 5 – Governance and management
Clause 6 – Resource management
Clause 7 – Educational service realization
Clause 8 –Measurement, analysis and improvement

ISO 9001:2008 QMS Standard is implemented by many schools for demonstrating the quality of educational services provided by the school and many schools in India are implementing accreditation standard for quality school governance developed by Quality Council of India, however it is observed that both standards, ISO 9001:2008 QMS Standards and Accreditation Standard for quality school governance, are generic in nature and voluntary for schools to implement. Schools generally implement ISO 9001:20008 QMS and/or QCI Standard to gain financial and other benefits. Quality in education in schools in India can be improved if we have a mandatory standard to follow by schools. Standards are vehicle for good governance, sharing of knowledge, technology and good governance. If we want sustainable development, we have to look forward for the quality education in our country.

There is a need to revamp the entire education system in our country, for which following need to be looked in to:
1. There is a need to create awareness for the RTE Act.
2. All schools should have basic infrastructure, including proper building, class-rooms, play ground, laboratories, library etc.
3. Every school should have dedicated and qualified teachers
4. Massively investment is needed in education of girls and women
5. Every school should have adequate number of teachers
6. There should be transparent and fair system to evaluate the performance of teachers
7. Raise investment in education
8. Bringing practical learning into school education system and creating an interest in learning is also very important aspect.

Times of India, 16 March 2012, reported a news item stating that a government primary school in Makhupura has no building and lacks basic amenities like drinking water and toilet. According to the report, students of the school sit in the mud all through the day to learn their lesson as their school building exists only on paper. However, their teachers are better off, as they have a table and a chair, which they keep in the nearby temple after school hours. The school has no provision for drinking water or toilet facilities and the students cross the highway to get water from nearby residents. There are nearly 80 students and two teachers in the school. This school is hardly 10 kilometers from Ajmer.

Many schools (specifically government schools) do not have proper infrastructure. What is needed in this regard is application of ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’ cycle. Accordingly, at national level it requires to make standards for basic infrastructure and number of teachers. The standard should be a specific standard for education system that should define area of class-room, cleanliness, light and air, sitting facilities, black-board (or writing board) in the class-room, number of teacher criteria, evaluation criteria for teachers etc. The national standard should also define the responsibility – who will provide or do what? Next point is implementation of standard requirements for which necessary infrastructure, human resources, and financial support should be provided by the government. It may require huge amount of investment towards basic infrastructure that may be fulfilled by raising investment in education to at least 5% of the GDP. The third point is to check implementation at periodical intervals that should be done by internal monitoring and measurement processes, but there must be an independent body also to check the educational system of schools. The independent body should have trained and experienced assessors to check the school system and raise CA (corrective action) and thus the body should certify that basic infrastructure and availability of teachers in the school are as per standard’s requirements. The fourth point is to act on the basis of the results of check (monitoring and measurement) and if any correction or improvement is required that should be done without delay.

"Change does not necessarily assure progress, but progress implacably requires change. Education is essential to change, for education creates both new wants and the ability to satisfy them." - Henry Steele Commager

- PROBE Team, Public Report on Basic Education in India (New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1999)
- Eleven things that can transform education in India, ArindamChaudhuri, The Sunday Indian (8 January 2012)
- Quality Striving for Excellence, March – June 2010
- The Times of India, 16 March 2012
- RTE, 2010
- http://www.icbsc.com
- ISO Website
- QCI Website

1 comment:

PMG India said...

ISO 9001:2008 QMS Standard is really helpful in education system. It shows that how to manage consumer requirements and its needs.