Vol II No. V, A QCI Publication
Home | Content | Quality for Empowering the Billion | NABH accreditation lauded | 4th National Quality Conclave | Raising the ‘quality’ bar in education | Going the‘Right’ way | Call for new initiatives to enhance credibility of certification process | ‘Quality comes for a cost’ | Panel reviews global food certification systems
Raising the ‘quality’ bar in education
The Quality Council of India, in association with the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, has initiated a project to introduce the quality accreditation standard for quality school governance in the Kendriya Vidyalayas. Comprehensive technical assistance, including training, is a key aspect of the programme, reports Nandu Manjeshwar.
A sk a parent how they judged a school to be ideal for their ward. Is it merely on a few academic gladiators that a school churns out each year, or the sprinkling of sportspersons, or the air-conditioned school building, or on the basis of the foreign jaunts organised during the annual vacation? Ask another pertinent question, and that is about school governance. It indeed is difficult to get an objective response.
(Left-right) Mr Vipin Sahni, Director, NABET, Mr Girdhar J Gyani, Secretary General, QCI, Mr Ranglal Jamuda, KVS Commissioner, and Dr U N Singh, Joint Commssioner (Academics), KVS, at the MoU signing ceremony on December 17, 2008.
There is, of course, the criterion of definitive instructions on curriculum and syllabus for schools. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate if holistic education is enmeshed to achieve better overall performance? Every school undoubtedly aspires to produce good academic results. In this melee of schools, rivalling one another in showcasing academic results alone, we are missing out on one important facet of their quality — that is their role in building overall qualitative growth of students confident enough to face the world after exiting the portals of the school.

“Other than norms and guidelines issued by CBSE, there is not enough on the management aspect in schools. Each school has its own version of management and there is no uniformity. The Standard for Quality School Governance issued by Quality Council of India (QCI) is a step in the right direction,” opines M M Joshi, Deputy Commissioner, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS).

The higher educational institutions in the country, such as colleges, technical, architecture and medical institutions are governed by commissions/councils, while school education is yet to achieve that standard. At the second Quality Council of India (QCI) National Quality Conclave in February 2007, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, then President of India, stressed the need for development of a standard for schools to ensure quality of education across the nation. In line with his recommendation,

QCI has developed the Accreditation Standard for Quality School Governance. This standard provides a framework for effective management and delivery of the holistic education programme aimed at overall development of the students.

Quality of education is characterised by creation of capacity for life-long learning. There are three basic elements for quality of education: Management Quality, Teacher Quality and Student Quality. The accreditation standard, therefore, does not relate either to the school curriculum or syllabus.

“Why shouldn’t
India be allowed
to compete with
the universities
abroad?... Why
should only the
rich have the
opportunity to
study abroad?”
— Lord Meghnad Desai
Economist and thinker
On the other hand, what the standard for quality school governance aims at is to:
  • Provide educational services that seek to enhance the satisfaction level of all interested parties.
  • Provide a basis for assessing, and where required, rating the effectiveness of an educational management system.
  • Develop quality consciousness among interested parties involved in school activities.
Mr Girdhar J Gyani, Secretary General, QCI and Mr Ranglal Jamuda IAS, Commissioner, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) signing the MoU.

QCI has taken this concept to various parts of country and conducted workshops to explain the same to teachers, principals and the management staff of the schools. The concept is new, and hence there is apprehension. But it is now generally understood and accepted that there is more to school education beyond academic results.

KVS Commissioner Ranglal Jamuda is of the view that this intervention to improve quality is not only good but noble indeed. In his view, the adoption of a uniform quality standard across the country is the need of the hour, particularly if we believe that the success of the nation depends on the education level of its people.

The KVS, under his guidance, has co-opted QCI in preparing KV Schools to achieve quality school governance. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between KVS and QCI on December 17, 2008, according to which, QCI shall provide comprehensive technical assistance, including training to the schools, in preparing them for adoption of the accreditation standard for quality school governance.

“As a pilot project, this MoU is only for two KV Schools, one being IIT Powai (Mumbai) and the other, RK Puram Sector 8 (New Delhi). The stakeholders of both the schools attended the workshops and are energised to undertake the tasks at hand vigorously. With this kind of enthusiasm shown by them, we intend to complete the task within the next academic session,” asserts M M Joshi.

The objective being clear, the following `subsidiary objectives’ emanate:
  • To assess the existing status of Educational System of the identified schools.
  • To suggest alternatives to Educational System to meet the requirements of the QCI accreditation standard.
  • To lay down standard operating procedures for effective Educational System.
  • To train key personnel in these processes.
  • To review the outcome regularly and periodically.
  • To enable the school to seek accreditiation from the National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET).

“In the meantime, we have conducted our own GAP analysis and, of course, the same analysis conducted by QCI would be wider in scope and more comprehensive. KV Schools have brand equity and many other schools, I am aware, follow us. Having said that, we would like to know; Are we better than the best in this field? Independent observers or assessors, like QCI, have to certify our status,” says M M Joshi.

“In India,we have top-level universities, institutions like IITs
and IIMs, but at the grassroot level, education is not given high priority. Every child should get enough scope to display his/her talent in any field...”
— Mani Shankar Aiyar
Union Minister
KVS is confident that the schools selected for the pilot project would come out with flying colours. “In the next phase, we shall take this project to schools in Begaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Guwahati. In the coming years, many of our schools would have received accreditation standards for quality school governance,” avers M M Joshi.

Commissioner Jamuda’s vision is clear — to set a benchmark in quality school governance that others can emulate. “Manufacturing and services sectors set benchmarks, and periodically carry out upward revision, so why not schools too,” asks M M Joshi. He adds, “In fact, we are grateful to QCI, and particularly to its

Secretary General Girdhar Gyani, for motivating us to take up the quality route to improving school governance.”

“It needs to be mentioned here that Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan is extremely focussed, and more importantly, there is tremendous desire for Quality interventions in schools,” stresses the QCI Secretary General. The launch of the pilot project is the first step in the journey towards the ultimate goal of coveing all the schools accross the country with the programme.

 
It’s best to catch them young!
Hank Cram believes we may have actually got it all backwards, so far as our education systems go. Time perhaps, then, to re-look the way we address the education needs of our children.
The importance of early age and elementary education continues to grow as we come to understand more about how the brain develops and how the mind works. Thanks to the enormous advances in neurological sciences, which let us observe brain functioning, educators are continuing to learn about learning. This growing knowledge base affirms many of our current practices, refutes others and draws our attention to new knowledge that has implications for how we teach, what we teach and how schools can best be organised.
One of the revelations from neurological science is the importance of the early years. While we experience our fastest learning between birth and five years old (acquiring our motor development, basic language skills and early socialisation skills) what students learn in the early grades has considerable influence on their future emotional well-being and academic performance.
Educators in the US have been fond of saying that ‘elementary teachers love the children, secondary teachers love the content and college professors love themselves.’ This metaphor, characterising the
Children in elementary schools are most receptive to learning new skills. Education KV.qxd 12/26/2008 5:51 PM Page 4
pedagogical styles of the various levels of education, is being reinforced by what we are learning about learning.

Elementary teachers, according to the latest brain research, are responsible for laying the foundation that may determine a child’s emotional maturity and self-discipline, their habits of mind and love of learning, and the basic skills prerequisite for future academic success. It is an opportune time, according to brain researchers, to introduce the foundations for acquiring a second language, learning a musical instrument, mastering math concepts, and developing emotional intelligence skills such as impulse coElementary teachers, according to the latest brain research, are responsible for laying the foundation that may determine a child’s emotional maturity and self-discipline, their habits of mind and love of learning, and the basic skills prerequisite for future academic success. It is an opportune time, according to brain researchers, to introduce the foundations for acquiring a second language, learning a musical instrument, mastering math concepts, and developing emotional intelligence skills such as impulse control and delayed gratification.

“The neglect of
elementary
education in India
is striking, given
the recognition of
the importance of
basic education for
economic
development.
Somehow the
educational aspects
of economic
development have
continued to be
out of the main
focus.”
— Amartya Sen
Nobel Laureate
While these skills can be a part of the educational process at any level, a child’s brain, we are being told, is most receptive to the introduction of these skills during the early years. Early age and elementary teachers may be the best equipped, because of their “love of children”, to teach many of these skills, and may have the most conducive classroom settings in which to teach them.
As a former school superintendent, secondary teacher and college professor, I have always been in awe of the magic that pre-K and elementary teachers practice inmeeting the intense emotional demands of young learners and transforming them from unskilled explorers of their own world to skilled investigators, still curious but prepared to make sense of the real world. Watching a child learn to read, to write, to calculate and to think is a marvellous thing to experience, but being responsible for making that happen must be enormously rewarding.
Perhaps what we are learning about learning is suggesting that we have had it backwards. Instead of venerating the college professors and university researchers (who already love themselves), we should be focussing on the real educational super stars, those educators who work with children at the age that most neuroscientists would agree is the most important and formative.
(Hank Cram Ed.D is President/ Executive Director, Middle States Association Commission on Secondary Schools)
sHarnessing young minds
Research shows how elementary education plays a pivotal role in shaping a child’s mental and intellectual growth and development. Jeanne M Gallagher has mapped the academic growth chart of children, with special focus on their formative years.

Elementary education, generally accepted as education of students aged 6-12, provides the foundation of learning to read, then reading to learn. Education before the age of six is often conceptbased and concrete, teaching a child to discriminate among shapes, colours, sizes, locations, physical properties, and relationships. Incorporating this sort of broad-based information fosters brain development that creates the ability to make more nuanced discriminations, which are at the heart of formal education.

Formal education is primarily conducted through exposure to spoken and written symbols. At the elementary level, the child begins the pattern of decoding the symbols of language and mathematics Just as he learned to identify the “red things” in the fruit and vegetable aisle of the supermarket at age 3, now he begins to recognise that some symbols have sticks; some have rounded bellies or heads; some are curvy; some are large and some are small. He also begins to match the symbols to sounds and numbers, and eventually, strings of symbols to specific meanings.

“The elementary
education system
suffers from two
problems: One, availability of quality school infrastructure... and two, most children are not learning at a deeper level and schools are not able to help every
child to realise her potential.”
— Azim
Premji
Chairman, Wipro
Early years of education develop the foundation on which a child’s ability is built.
The first few years of elementary education encourage children to gain fluency with this symbolism, to hear it and attach meaning, to recognise it visually and attach meaning, to speak and have certain expectations, and to write it and have certain expectations. The first years of elementary education are the equivalent of the new driver who can steer or make the car move, but cannot yet smoothly do both at once.
In the later elementary years, with mastery of symbolism in place and with use of that symbolism becoming
Children are introduced to formal education through exposure to symbols.
an automatic function for the child, the student can move ahead, using that automatic functionality to unlock information about subjects and the wide-ranging world. The child becomes aware of a universe far beyond his immediate ken and is drawn to learn more about it.

Just as early age education sets the foundation of brain development that permits a child to discriminate among experiences in the concrete world, elementary education sets the foundation for recognising and fluently using the formal symbols of language and math. This enables the child to move beyond the need to concretely experience an inaugural event in order for it to move from unknown to known. Instead, he can hear about it, read about it, write about it, talk about it, and in doing so, make it his own. Through the earliest years of education, the child’s ability to build upon that foundation is established.

(Jeanne M Gallagher is Manager of Membership Information at Middle States Commission on Elementary Schools. Their website is: http://ces-msa.org)