Quality education does not merely imply imparting basic education to all.
The basic characteristics of a quality education are those that are meaningful, responsive to both individual and social needs which are made available to each and every student.
Leading reports define quality education as leading to identification of cognitive development and one that helps in promoting values and attitudes of responsible citizenship while nurturing creative & emotional development.
These reports also define 6 common policy issues which have a direct cause- effect relationship on the entire teaching- learning process.
Suitable aims. To arrive at this answer, a series of questions can be asked. What should the intended learners and to what purpose? What can be the stage of the learner’s cognitive, emotional, psychological development one can expect at the end of the program? Are learners being taught other critical topics like human ethics & values, respect for the environment & cultural diversity among any others?
Scope and number of subjects to be taught. This needs to include the number of languages to be taught, the variety of core and supplementary subjects to be included in the curriculum. Other questions to be pondered upon include, what should be the scope, syllabus and time allocated for each subject?
Optimal use of teaching periods. This refers to the fact that the more time a teacher spends with students in the classroom, there is a better performance on the part of the student, especially at the primary and secondary levels.
Methods of teaching: The era of lecture teaching and rote learning are long gone. There are several new pedagogic approaches to learning all focused on child centered active pedagogy and cooperative learning .
Value based outcomes. The focus is no longer merely on grades ,but also on measuring the amount of critical thinking and problem solving abilities that have been enhanced in the learner as a result of the teaching process.
The Language policy dilemma: While all due respect and position needs to be given to a learner’s mother tongue, there needs to be an equal emphasis placed on the importance of learning global languages in an increasingly competitive world. Another factor to be kept in mind while designing the policy is the fact that such a choice impacts not only language learning but also curriculum, content and pedagogy.
Assessment structure. Learning which is not assessed serves no purpose. Regular, timely and precise formative and summative assessments accurately capture a student’s understanding of various concepts as well as his academic growth/ decline. The specified goals of each and every assessment needs to be to give learners and their parents feedback to improve/ enhance performance in specific areas . Improve the overall teaching/ learning processes and pedagogy of the institution as well as to upgrade teaching practices.
On boarding of quality teachers: Even with the required teaching infrastructure in place, in the absence of well qualified and experienced teachers, the learning delivery may not occur along expected lines. A requirement of appointing of quality teacher becomes a must.
Safe learning environment: Until there is a safe and supportive learning environment created for the learner both at home and school, the goal of providing quality education will not succeed.