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IDENTIFYING AND ADRESSING CHALLENGES IN QUALITY EDUCATION Poonam B. Valera Visiting Lecturer, Dept. Of English, Bhavan's Shri A.K.

Doshi Mahila College, Jamnagar 361 008 EMAIL: valerapoonam729@gmail.com

"Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intension, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives." - Willa A. Foster Abstract Effectiveness of any system, including education, depends upon both its quantity and quality aspects. Because of globalization and competition among education providers, quality has become an important issue these days. Quality education means quality of teachers, quality of learners, quality of courses, quality of planning and management, quality of infrastructure, quality of resource and quality of teaching and evaluation methods. Quality in education, at all the levels, is being encouraged in all the countries because of academic, social, political and economic advantages. If we want to succeed in the expansion of educational provision nationally and internationally, we have to improve and sustain the quality of our education system. To do this, it is quite requisite to identify and address challenges in quality education. These challenges are considerable to be addressed for the country as it is now engaged in the use of higher education as a powerful tool to build a knowledgebased information society of the 21st century. Recognizing these basic facts, the universities have to perform a multiple role namely creating new knowledge, acquiring new capabilities and producing an intelligent human resource pool through challenging teaching, research and extension activities so as to balance both the need and the demand. In terms of the system approach, the quality of input and process will shape the quality of outputs that graduate from the education system. The quality education is not a one-time affair. It is a continuous process involving sustained efforts. This paper identifies and addresses challenges in quality higher education in India.

Introduction At the dawn of a new century, there is an unprecedented demand for and a great diversification in higher education, as well as an increased awareness of its vital importance for socio-cultural and economic development. Higher education includes all types of studies namely training or training for research at the post secondary level, provided by universities or other educational establishments that are approved as institutions of higher education by the competent state authorities. There is, indeed, a multitude of interconnected problems that India faces in its higher education system; in a summary and particularly incisive diagnostic, one of the more thorough recent analyses of the situation describes both the scope and the seriousness of the challenge. Higher education in India suffers from several systemic deficiencies. As a result, it continues to provide graduates that are unemployable despite emerging shortages of skilled manpower in an increasing number of sectors. The standards of academic research are low and declining. Some of the problems of the Indian higher education, such as the unwieldy affiliating system, inflexible academic structure, uneven capacity across various subjects, eroding autonomy of academic institutions, and the low level of public funding are well known. Many other concerns relating to the dysfunctional regulatory environment, the accreditation system that has low coverage and no consequences, absence of incentives for performing well, and the unjust public funding policies are not well recognized. Quality assurance systems will find continuing

challenges in the decade ahead, not only on their procedural decisions but also on the fundamental educational issues they must address. Complex questions about how to measure educational quality are gaining new urgency because of two recent developments: the widening use of educational technology and the burgeoning interest in global delivery of educational services. There has been some effort to address each of these emerging trends, especially in some major systems of quality assurance, but much remains to be addressed.

Poor Quality of Teachers The greatest of all the challenges that education in India faces is that of poor quality of teachers. The poor quality is pervading all throughout right since the primary education and it has cascading effect into other layers too. A poor teacher actively damages the student's learning experience. Poor teachers are a power-base of mediocrity that is resisting changes in the teaching profession. Poor teachers fabricate excuses. They are not responsible for their outcomes. Poor teachers not only sponsor poor performances of their students but they affect leadership and the quality of teaching within their school. Poor teachers do not look for opportunities. They are safe remaining in the same classroom, teaching the same subject to the same students within the same program and from the same textbook. The foremost challenge with reference to poor quality teaching is that of untrained half-baked teachers who pass on their ignorance to their students . Another factor that contributes to poor quality of teacher is that of poor paywages of the teachers. In fact, this is a vicious circle where quality is thought to be improved by privatization and thus sluggishness and lethargy with which government school teachers function is thought to be remedied and the paradoxes shame such teachers who are purported to be vehicles of change for the better are exploited underpaid and maltreated. Remedies: A certain drafting set of rules have to be enforced strictly in order to ensure optimum performance of the teachers; 1. In the selection criteria only the trained teachers need to be selected. 2. In service training every year has to be made obligatory for every serving teacher so as to update / refresh his existing knowledge and skills. 3. Seminars, workshops and conferences have to be organized in the relevant field of study and that should be the regular feature of on-the-job training regimen. 4. All the serving teachers need to be made to take performance related tests regularly and their salary and perks should commensurate with the outcome of these tests. 5. Students feedback has to have some bearing on the overall evaluation of the teacher. Even with reference to their working hours, they are exploited. They are made to slog in the classroom and in the laboratories and on the ground even with their meager salaries and thus they burn themselves out prematurely and with each passing year. They are reduced to living zombies. Poor Quality of Learners The quality of the learner is a direct fall out of the quality of teachers and when the quality of teachers is poor, it will percolate into the learning abilities of the students. Thus, we see that both are interwoven and both are well integral part of the learning process. A teacher is the most powerful influence on the impressionable minds of the learners. And thus in a way he is a great catalyst. It goes without saying that he is a harbinger of change for better or for worse. The next influencing factor is

that of familial influence which the child carries all his life. So, a healthy and positive family ambiance is a must for good quality of learners. Remedies: 1. There has to be a continuous evaluation of the existing body of knowledge and skills of the learner to identify the grey area . 2. That done, there have to be concerted efforts to work on the grey area by all these stake holders. 3. Through the process of individual evaluation, the weak students need to be selected for remedial courses and adequate follow up on those courses also needs to be ensured. 4. Appropriate bridge courses need to be held for those special students who take late admission. 5. There has to be a permanent counselor in each school to ease up stress level of special breed of vulnerable students.

Administrator's role The institute's administration manages various departments, functions, faculty, and the students, who do not appreciate that they are inter-dependent. They also exercise managerial leadership through participative management in playing their roles as mentors, facilitators, innovators, etc. People working in the system cannot do better than the system allows. Problems arise when the individuals, singly as well as jointly, do not do their best. Remedies:

1. Such a situation could only be prevented when people understand where they fit in and have
the knowledge to maximize their contributions to the whole.

2. Administration must create an environment that nurtures a team-oriented culture, which can
prevent problems and make continual improvements. Performance appraisal, recognition and reward systems place people in an internally competitive environment.

3. Aim of the long-term partnership among students, teachers and management is to bring about
innovation, reduction in variation of critical characteristics, lower costs, and better Quality. They should encourage competition, which is inevitable and inherent in human nature, but pitting one person or one group against another is not a natural state of competitive behavior. The competition should be against the environment, or to please the customer, or to eliminate waste of resources. Commercialization of Educational Services In the pursuit of improvement of education, the policy makers have gone for privatization of education. However, the same has ended up being out and out commercialized profiteering business joints, disregarding in the process, the quality aspect because the sole criterion here is not to improve the lot of education but to fatten their own purses. The government, in the mean time, is too busy in their own politicking to have a deep searching look at what is going on while they were away. The obvious fall out is the so called educational private place having a field day in maximizing the profits, leaving education to the mercy of merciless managers. With the connivance of the law enforcing government bureaucracy, the big players flaunt all or many of norms with respect to set standards.

As commercialization affects all areas of life, including education, it gradually shifts societys view of education. Education is increasingly seen as a consumable commodity that increases ones chances of successfully competing in the global economy and achieving higher earnings. Rather than being seen as a valuable end in itself, education is increasingly seen as a means to an end defined primarily in economic terms. A sign of this change is the corporate language that has crept into now almost common usage in reference to education: students are seen as customers, clients and products, teachers are service providers, learning guides and education managers; evaluation becomes quality control, and education is subsumed under the general notion of production. Remedies: When you identify the problems that crop up due to commercialization in education, remedies are not far to be sought if only one really is honest about it. 1. Education policy makers have to put in place proper checks and balances in order to prevent rampant commercialization and its consequent negative implications. To begin with, we have to have a robust mechanism that enforces all the norms which are required of any institution that wishes to initiate any educational activity. 2. Education policy makes have to ensure that no exception is made, no norm is compromised, and no canon is relaxed how so ever mighty and well placed the service provider is. If this is done, the quality in education will not suffer and standards of probity and high quality of awareness are maintained. Inefficiency to Extract Students Interest A major area where the present Indian education system is lacking is that education here has taken the form of rat race. Each and every student has their own interest in one or the other field. Teachers fail to extract the students interests where they can excel, so that they can be provided better opportunities and guidance in the area of their interest. Instead, they are forced to mug up the mandatory subjects and their perspective is made just limited to professions like doctors, engineers, and lawyers etc. Indian education is thus expanding in quantity not quality. The character of Indian education system has restrained and restricted Indian young right from the school age and continues that way with college and university stage. This harms the potential of human mind for constructing and creating new knowledge. In nutshell, we may say that the actual talent of the students remains concealed and is never let to ooze out. Don't try to fix the students, fix ourselves first. The good teacher makes the poor student good and the good student superior. When our students fail, we, as teachers, too, have failed. - Marva Collins Remedies: 1. A teacher has to have a very rich reference world. He should be a multi-dimensional person and voracious reader. This will keep the class alive and throbbing. He will, by his immense knowledge, ready references, inimitable style and a robust sense of humor will enliven his students by default and not by far fetched efforts. 2. Spiritually speaking, a teacher has to be an epitome of love and compassion and he should have the students interest and welfare in his heart. If he is driven by this soul motivation, he will have the students attention straight away. 3. Relevant storytelling and anecdote, riddles will immediately illuminate otherwise dull and lethargic responses of the students. Such collocating or juxtaposing will at once drain the whole class alive from the inertia and passivity brought about by the dead soul teachers and their boring lecturing.

Engineering, Medical & Other Colleges - All Money Earning Shops Higher education in the current scenario in India is in an extreme chaos. Entry of private entrepreneur into the education system has led to the deterioration of the quality of higher education. Mushrooming engineering and management colleges, degree and postgraduate colleges, dental and other colleges and last but not the least the deemed universities, with some notable exceptions, have largely become more business entities dispensing very poor quality education. These modern shops of higher education are running their courses on temporary and under qualified staff without proper laboratories and libraries. The sole concern of these self-financing institutions is profit maximization. Fee structure of majority of professional institutions is so cumbersome that the ward of an ordinary person has no place in these institutions. Remedies: In order to prevent the private institutions becoming just money minding machines, the government needs to put in place very effective mechanism. 1. First there has to be the obligatory set of norms to conform to for all private players dispensing education. These guidelines ought to be in terms of minimum requirements vis--vis infrastructure, faculties, students-teachers ratio, classrooms, equipment, etc. If these guidelines are strictly followed, quality aspect is properly taken care of. 2. There has to be regular evaluation of all such well-laid out norms so that quality aspect does not degenerate over the long period of time. 3. Fee-structure of these institutions needs to be rationalized so that all the stakeholders are satisfied and entrepreneurs should get their due return on investment, students also do not have to pay through noses. Cost of Education Government funding on higher education has been diminishing on a year on year basis for more than one decade. In the view of withdrawal of government support to finance higher education, private institutions have been allowed to take over the responsibility of imparting education to all. Further, in government aided universities the model of self financing and self sustaining institutions has been introduced. All these developments have added to the cost of education significantly. Though, the education loan has been made easy to facilitate higher education, still the terms and conditions imposed by banks in terms of guarantee and criteria of minimum income of family, restricts the talent coming from the poor families to go for higher education. Poverty is the biggest barrier to college attendance. Students from poor families of all ethnic backgrounds and those whose parents did not have a college education are even less likely than underrepresented minorities, as a whole, to enroll in college or even to complete high school. Remedies: Indeed, the cost of education has gone skyrocketing. To remedy these ills here are the suggestions. 1. There has to be provision of cent percent scholarships to the O.B.C. /S.C. /S.T. and other economically backward classes and college students by the government so that their entire cost of education is borne by the government. 2. There should be the conduction of special coaching classes for some such students who cannot afford to attend costly private coaching classes. 3. The government must incentivize such students to go for higher studies with special scholarships, cash-rewards and other perks to commensurate with their performance.

Declining Enrollment in Traditional Fields of Knowledge The changing economic structure coupled with cultural transformation in terms of life style has lead to a shift in choice for studies. The major chunk from youth opts for professional courses leading to early employment and faster growth. Therefore, the teaching and research in such faculties is able to attract the best of the talent leaving only a few for fundamental research in basic sciences, literature, art and languages. It, thus, poses the challenge to the sustenance and the development of these basic pillars of knowledge. Remedies: 1. The government must declare incentives in terms of monetary gains and other grace and relaxation in terms of marks and grade etc. to further promote the study and research in basic sciences, literature, arts and languages. 2. There has to be a greater viability for the study of such subjects in terms of jobs and placements. 3. Greater thrust is needed to be placed on study and research by allocating greater funds needed for travels, books, equipment, laboratories etc.

Red Tapism It is an irony in India that the bureaucracy restricts the modernization and expansion of higher education by private players intended to impart quality education. At the same time, a large number of institutions without having adequate infrastructure and offering sub-standard education are not only surviving but flourishing. Therefore, to develop a professional, transparent and efficient mechanism to ensure expansion of quality education at a fast pace is greatly desirable. Remedies: Red Tapism is a curse. To make ourselves free from this curse, following remedies are suggested. 1. Less procedural wrangles are to be ensured for any entrepreneur wanting to invest in education sector. 2. There has to be the concept of single window permission of all sorts in order to save precious time and money. 3. Fixing of accountability has to be ensured for any earning official who is found out to be deliberately employing delaying tactics and he needs to be adequately penalized for his procreating techniques.

Funding Funding of higher education in India has been an area of great concern because the resources are limited and there is a need to balance the growing demands of higher education within the limited resources. Of late, there has been an intense debate over the pattern of funding education in general and higher education, in particular. Public expenditure on education in India has increased significantly since the inception of planning in the country. Remedies:

1. Government of India and the state governments need to put their acts together and allocate enough resources in their budgets and planned expenditures heavy public and private investment in education sector is the need of the hour. There has to be the provision of setting aside at least 5 % of the G.D.P. for education. 2. Private entrepreneurs need to be encouraged to invest in the rural educational sector so that there is even growth of both the urban and the rural and for the purpose, necessary policy changes have to be brought about through legislation and bills. 3. The ideal model is PPP model- private public partnership model where the government and the private players work in tandem and bring about real changes in terms of quality enhancement and expansion of education which brings about positive energy in the management and running of such education institutions.

Conclusion Many studies continue to show that efforts to engage with quality are fraught with difficulties. Equally problematic are efforts to effectively achieve, improve and measure quality. Consequently, as much as is written about quality, a reading of the literature can be quite confusing as numerous and conflicting definitions of quality are presented, depending on how the term is conceptualized. Quality education, in this context, is unique to each nation and culture. A notable Minister of Higher Education, Training and Employment Creation in Namibia is quoted to have aptly described that the notion of quality and standards should be measured in relation to the context and environment in which education is located. The improvement of quality can be achieved through a variety of measures. Urgent attention should be paid to the establishment and gradual implementation of standards of provision for the full range of inputs to teaching and research. The provision of libraries with the necessary books and periodicals should be the highest priority, closely followed by supplying laboratories and workshops with consumables and materials needed for equipment maintenance and repair. The revival of long-term efforts to upgrade the academic qualifications of staff is also quite essential through postgraduate training in masters and doctoral programmes. At last, I would like to say that the it is quite necessary to identify and address the challenges in quality education because, as said by Audrey Hepburn, A quality education has the power to transform societies in a single generation, provide children with the protection they need from the hazards of poverty, labor exploitation and disease, and given them the knowledge, skills, and confidence to reach their full potential.

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