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19 June, 2017 11:36:20 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 19 June, 2017 11:37:03 AM

What we mean by ‘quality education’?

The things students learn in the classroom should help them solve and address the similar kind of problems. But most students cannot do it
Masum Billah
What we mean by ‘quality education’?

‘Quality education’ has become the most talked-about topic in the field of education in our country and in the global arena as well. Is there any concrete answer to the question ‘what is quality education’? Though different educationists define it in different ways, they indicate some particular but common things which together talk about quality education. Quality education means teaching not just facts, but how to determine those facts. It involves critical thinking, learning to work with others and work independently, a broad range of subjects. Quality education does not necessarily mean just to score higher grades in public examinations. When a student fails to acquire the social skills but obtains a high grade in the examination it does not talk about quality education. Quality education talks of a set of skills necessary in our individual, academic and social life and academic attainment is only a portion of that set of skills. Quality education ensures how to face the realities of life applying the things learners learn in their academic life. The values that the school passes on to students, both boys and girls, are as important as the official curriculum. This learning helps equip students to exercise their rights and overcome obstacles on their path to living the lives they choose.
Most governments act to protect consumers in the education market by ensuring that institutions are properly accredited and the qualifications they award are valid and are recognized as of being of ‘quality.’ However, the manner in which institutions and degrees are accredited varies a great deal. In the USA, accreditation and quality assurance is effectively self-regulated by the educational institutions and faculty through their control of accreditation agencies, although the government does have some ‘weapons of enforcement’, mainly through the withdrawal of student financial aid for students at any institution that the U.S.

Department of Education deems to be failing to meet standards. In many other countries, government has the ultimate authority to accredit institutions and approve degrees, although in countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom, this is often exercised by arm’s length agencies appointed by government, but consisting mainly of representatives from the various institutions within the system. These bodies have a variety of names, but Degree Quality Assurance Board is a typical title. In recent years, some regulatory agencies such as the United Kingdom’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education have adopted formal quality assurance processes.Higher education providers assure themselves that everyone involved in teaching or supporting student learning is appropriately qualified, supported and developed. 
In Bangladesh perspective what we actually mean by ‘quality education’? Does it mean studying in a cadet college, or Rajuk College or Viqarunnessa School or Ideal School or Notre Dame College and getting an A+ or golden A+ in the public examinaiton? Next question comes ‘do these institutions impart quality education?’ These institutions actually don’t help bloom the sleeping talents of the learners. They just choose some students among thousands through their set academic and examination oriented tests which test mainly the memory of the students. The students of these institutions could be made creative and be given quality education in the real sense of the term.  But they are taught particular type of things from their curriculum following the syllabus. Students are not made habituated to answer the questions beyond the established tradition. Any deviation of developing questions or any change in any item bring about serious disaster to the students’ results. Quality education will teach them the way of doing things, solving problems of the similar kind they meet in the classroom.  On the basis of the things they learn in the classroom will help them solve and address the similar kind of problems. But most students cannot do it. When thing is like this, it means they have not received quality education. If we consider their linguistic ability, we see they neither can write good Bengali nor  can they speak and  write good English even after getting very good grades in public examinations.  Their listening ability in English is awfully poor and in terms of reading, they hardly understand anything beyond their textual items which they practice umpteen times.  If they could answer and do well in the examination facing the questions beyond the tradition, we could tell that they have received quality education. And learning some absolutely necessary social skills is an integral part of quality education. A student with good grades often does not know how to speak before the public, how to speak with the elders, how to behave with a stranger. When they learn these basic skills, we can say he/she has got quality education. If we ask our students ‘what is the name of the capital of Bangladesh’ and the answer is‘Dhaka’. Does it show any creativity of our students? We just give them full marks and certify that he/she is a brilliant student. If we could ask them ‘why Dhaka has been made the capital of Bangladesh instead of Chittagong, this question must employ students’ thoughts and they will strive to find the answer of their own which will be different from each other. 
In the same way, if ask them which year Bangladesh achieved independence, the answer is ‘in 1971.’ If we ask why we achieved independence would necessitate the critical thinking of our students. Again, what is the other name of Dhaka, the answer is ‘ Jahangirnagar’. If we can ask them why the alternative name of Dhaka is Jahangirnar you think, it will call for working their brain.  Interesting enough, we never set these kind of questions in our public examinations even in the name of ‘creative questions’. Quality education will certainly make the students creative and develop their thinking process.
Then the known and famous (?) institutions prepare the already selected students to obtain ‘high grades’ in the public examinations. They obtain good grades facing mostly the questions type mentioned in the previous para. These students get enrolled in medical colleges, engineering universities, agricultural and general universities and people believe that the schools and colleges they belonged to offered them ‘quality education’. These selected students become doctors, engineers, agriculturalists and take masers’ degree. They again have to undergo a ‘civil service test’ which is also not analytical. When they work as doctors, they know how to diagnose diseases and make prescriptions.  To become a doctor, giving mental support to the patients, talking to them sympathetically are the pre-conditions to give medicinal treatment. Our doctors never learn these things. Engineers know how to make roads, buildings, machineries but they never get the education that ‘taking bribes’ is a dishonest task. It harms the society and country. When engineers and other professionals fail to ensure these things, we can say they have not got ‘quality education’. Many uneducated people who have never been to educational institutions can acquire some skills through practice, getting involved and being apprentices to others. If they commit crime like taking bribes or cheating customers, we may not have many questions about their dealings as they never attended higher educational intuitions. But the students who enjoyed state help and favour for many years to become doctors, engineers or other professionals,  refuse to give help to the poor countrymen and the state and some do it in exchange of hush money. Obviously we can say these students have not got ‘quality education’. Attaining high academic grades without learning the social skills and developing human qualities does not talk about ‘quality education’.


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The writer is an educationist




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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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