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The Quality Dimension

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The Quality Dimension: Even as the system attempts to reach every child, the issue of quality presents a new range of challenges. The be...

The Quality Dimension:

Even as the system attempts to reach every child, the issue of quality presents a new range of challenges. The belief that quality goes with privilege is clearly irreconcilable with the vision of participatory democracy that India upholds and practices in the political sphere. Its practise in the sphere of education demands that the education available to all children in different regions and sections of society has a comparable quality. J.P. Naik had described equality, quality and quantity as the ‘elusive triangle’ of Indian education. Dealing with this metaphorical triangle requires a deeper theoretical understanding of quality than has been available. UNESCO’s recently published global monitoring report discusses systemic standards as the appropriate context of the quality debate. From this point of view, the child’s performance needs to be treated as an indicator of systemic quality. In a system of education that is divided between a fast-growing private sector and a larger state sector marked by shortages and the uneven spread of resources, the issue of quality poses complex conceptual and practical questions. The belief that private schools have higher quality treats examination results as the sole criterion for judging quality. This kind of perception ignores the ethos-related limitations of the privileged private schools. The fact that they often neglect the child’s mother tongue warrants us to wonder about the opportunities that they are able to provide to the child for constructing knowledge in meaningful ways. Moreover, the exclusion of the poor from their admission process implies the loss of learning opportunities that occur in a classroom with children from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. 

Physical resources by themselves cannot be regarded as an indicator of quality; yet, the extreme and chronic shortage of physical resources, including basic infrastructural amenities, in schools run by the state or local bodies does present a serious quality constraint. The availability of qualified and motivated teachers who perceive teaching as a career option applies to all sectors of schools as a necessary precondition for quality. Recent suggestions for the dilution of standards in teacher recruitment, training and service conditions articulated in the NPE, and, before it, by the Chattopadhyaya Commission (1984), arouse anxiety. No system of education can rise above the quality of its teachers, and the quality of teachers greatly depends on the means deployed for selection, procedures used for training, and the strategies adopted for ensuring accountability. 

The quality dimension also needs to be examined from the point of view of the experiences designed for the child in terms of knowledge and skills. Assumptions about the nature of knowledge and the child’s own nature shape the school ethos and the approaches used by those who prepare the syllabi and textbooks, and by teachers as well. The representation of knowledge in textbooks and other materials needs to be viewed from the larger perspective of the challenges facing humanity and the nation today. No subject in the school curriculum can stay aloof from these larger concerns, and therefore the selection of knowledge proposed to be included in each subject area requires careful examination in terms of socio-economic and cultural conditions and goals. The greatest national challenge for education is to strengthen our participatory democracy and the values enshrined in the Constitution. Meeting this challenge implies that we make quality and social justice the central theme of curricular reform. Citizenship training has been an important aspect of formal education. Today, it needs to be boldly reconceptualised in terms of the discourse of universal human rights and the approaches associated with critical pedagogy. A clear orientation towards values associated with peace and harmonious coexistence is called for. Quality in education includes a concern for quality of life in all its dimensions. This is why a concern for peace, protection of the environment and a predisposition towards social change must be viewed as core components of quality, not merely as value premises.
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CLEAR CTET: The Quality Dimension
The Quality Dimension
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