Quality Management in Education


By

Seema Gupta
Sr. Lecturer (PGDM)
Babu Banarasi Das National Institute of Management & Technology
Lucknow
 


ABSTRACT

Education quality is becoming increasingly important for those who are involved in it either directly or indirectly, and for those who use its services. Access to education and quality education are to be regarded as mutually dependent and indivisible needs and rights. This is primarily achieved by developing creativity, civic and democratic values, as well as by knowledge, abilities and skills needed for everyday and professional life. Basic education is not sufficient or complete, and therefore should be considered only as a basis for learning that needs to be used all life long. Lifelong learning for all has become one of the pillars of development. Quality management is a part of management aimed at achieving quality goals through planning, monitoring, assuring and improving quality.

Introduction

Education quality is a key factor for improving the business quality, and therefore strengthening competitive advantage. Access to education and quality education are to be regarded as mutually dependent and indivisible needs and rights. Lack of education is a basic cause of poverty. Intellectual workers are becoming a major tool in increasing productivity, and knowledge is becoming the main resource.

Differences between modern and traditional educational systems are evident in different educational goals, teaching approaches and roles of all participants in the educational process. Efficiency and quality are the key parameters that determine the socio-economic importance of the field of education. Quality management is a part of management aimed at achieving quality goals through planning, monitoring, assuring and improving quality. In modern conditions, quality management becomes a business function as well as any other function, involving people of all profiles and from all the departments of the organization.

Education quality

The word quality comes from the Latin word qualitas (property, quality, value, characteristic, feature, ability). In a highly competitive world with increasing consumer demands, quality has become the key factor of survival in the market, of profitability and development, not just for individual sectors and organizations, but also for the whole country's economy. Education quality is a dynamic, multi-dimensional concept that refers not only to the educational model, but also to the institutional mission and its goals, as well as to the specific standards of the system, facility, program or event

The pedagogical theory and practice has been trying to determine what the quality of education is. In education it is only possible to determine the quality by comparing the results with the given goal, or by comparing it with previously established standards.

Any human activity is identified by the quality of its product. The same rule applies to education. The quality of education is therefore responsible for the quality of its "product": students. Various forms of education are present in different places, at various times, under different circumstances and terms, intentional and unintentional, organized and unorganized, with or without a program.

One of the key problems is the unification of standards and quality evaluation criteria. The key components of the evaluation process are the methodological approach in applying good methods and procedures of data collection, and the definition of key concepts and their relations with the concept of quality. The fundamental precondition for quality improvement is the establishment of an active system of internal and external evaluation. Internal evaluation implies a significant role of the judgment of students as active participants in the process of quality evaluation in education. Education quality is to be understood as the most important asset for strengthening market competitiveness, and thus as the accelerator of the total economic growth and development.

Quality management in education

Quality must be consciously managed in order to satisfy quality demands. From the previous claim we conclude that quality management is "an integral part of management, whose role is to reach quality objectives, which are reflected not just in providing but also in improving quality. This is achieved by managing the activities derived from the established quality policies and plans, and is carried out within the quality system, using, among other things, the appropriate quality monitoring plan."

The efficient management of an organization is achieved by using different models. One of them is quality management system. By quality management system we understand "structure, procedures, processes and other necessary resources required for the application of quality management."

A quality system is inseparable from the international and European norms (standards) of quality. A standard is a formalization of the basic principles of quality management. An increasing number of entities (not only business related) are striving to adapt its own quality system with the requirements, mainly, of the ISO 9000 standards. To be accredited to ISO 9001 (from 2000), an independent auditor has to certify that the organization meets the following requirements of the Standard: quality management system, records keeping, management commitment to quality, resource management, production, and measurement, analysis and improvement.

Any higher education organization that wants to be accredited to the certificate, must go through several stages: the development of a quality system that implements the requirements of ISO 9000:2000; the selection of an accredited certification body; pre-auditing of the quality system by the certification body; the final audit of the quality system after which the certificate is issued; a series of smaller audits at least once a year. According to some experiences from the European Union, the whole process of obtaining a certificate lasts between 12 and 18 months. The certificate is valid for a period of three years.

Total quality management in education

The concept of total quality, introduced by Professor W. Edwards Deming in the 1950s, can be applied to almost every organization up to a certain level. The term stands for the process of shifting the focus of the organization towards a superior quality of products and services. TQM approach in education involves not only achieving high quality but also influencing all segments of the educational process: organization, management, interpersonal relations, material and human resources, etc. Applying the approach described above quality becomes total (integral).

The introduction of total quality management requires a number of changes in educational institutions. The first changes have to occur in the attitudes and activities of the management, in the organization and monitoring of the educational process, in the evaluation of its results, in the culture of communication, in the school atmosphere, and especially in the area of interpersonal relations.

The total quality management model includes the following: process planning, process management, continual improvement, total involvement and focus on the user. Total quality management is an efficient management technique that requires the full involvement of all employees on all organizational levels, thus representing the organizational culture. TQM stands for a way of life of the organization, which introduces constant improvement of business on all levels and activities, creating the appropriate environment through collaborative work, trust and respect. It approaches the processes in a systematic, consistent and organized way and applies total quality management techniques.

TQM is all about quality management of the users, leadership and management loyalty, and continuous improvement; prompt response, actions based on facts, the participation of employees in the TQM culture. If an organization is constantly willing to direct its efforts towards business improvement, the principles presented above can lead to excellence in quality. The success of total quality management depends on its eight components: ethics, integrity, trust, education, teamwork, leadership, reconcilability and communication.

Indicators of quality in education

The system of indicators of quality in education, as well as the quality criteria associated with the indicators, helps schools to point out the important areas of their own activities - their own advantages and disadvantages and development opportunities. School quality team can debate about representation and development of particular indicator aspect and search for method for upgrade and meliorate indicator representation in specify school circumstances. The indicators are grouped into seven areas with specific topics:

1. Curriculum

- structure of the curriculum (program/goals, tasks, focus on development of functional tasks, focus on students' activities, integration of programs within and between areas)

- courses and programs

- key competences that students develop in the given school

2. Achievements (evaluated by external, independent agencies)

- achievement quality compared with the set goals

3. Learning and teaching

- teachers' work

- students' work and experience

- meeting the needs of the students

- monitoring and evaluating the work of students and teachers

4. Students' support

- students' personal, social and spiritual growth

- progress and achievement monitoring

- support in all aspects of learning, progress, students' and teachers' personal development

5. School ethos

- school policy

- school atmosphere and relations

- specific goals of each individual school

- orientation towards students', teachers' and parents' satisfaction

6. Resources

- school resources

- teachers, professional associates, the principal; their education, teachers

   teamwork, cooperation; being open to innovation

- material resources and premises

- efficient human and material resources

7. Management, leadership and quality assurance

- approaches to leadership and management.

By applying the postulates of TQM to education, we state that education is not  a social activity, but a market-competitive activity as well as any other.

Application of total quality management to education

This shows that by using total quality management, educational institutions successfully distribute their accumulated knowledge and increase their efficiency. Total quality management helps achieving the goals and tasks of education of young generations. TQM not only improves the quality of management but also of the entire educational institution. Standards for quality management in education, showed their validity and can be rightfully recommended as a model that provides educational quality to the users of institutions that apply it.

Conclusion

The term quality, which encompasses economic, social, cognitive and cultural aspects of education, is perceived as an integral feature of the educational process and its results. By providing high quality educational services, educational institutions play an important role in the development of the national economy, of the society as a whole and of its individual members. Total quality can only be achieved by establishing an innovative organization, one that is flexible, which can adjust quickly to changes in its environment and is capable of learning. To improve education quality, an essential factor of economic and social development in the 21st century, it is crucial to reduce the huge amount of

Knowledge students are supposed to master, focusing their attention to a system of basic knowledge, on creativity, problem-solving and lifelong learning.
 


Seema Gupta
Sr. Lecturer (PGDM)
Babu Banarasi Das National Institute of Management & Technology
Lucknow
 

Source: E-mail February 10, 2010

          

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