Systems and yjeory of quality of education

 A matter of Agreement
At the level of international debate and action three principles tend to be broadly shared.
These are the need to understand quality education in terms of (a) content relevance, (b)
access and outcome and (c) observance of individual rights. In much current international
thinking, these principles are expected to guide and inform educational content and
processes and also represent more general social goals to which education itself should
contribute. This is reflected in the thinking of the following international bodies:
UNICEF: recognizes five dimensions of quality: 

the learners, the environments, content,
processes and outcomes, founded on the rights of the whole child, and all children, to
survival, protection, development and participation (UNICEF, 2000, in UNESCO, 2005).
UNESCO’s understanding of education quality seeks to identify unambiguously the
important attributes or qualities of education that can best ensure that goals are actually
met. Quality education should encourage learner’s creative and emotional development,
in supporting objectives of peace citizenship and security, promoting equality and passing
global and local cultural values down to future generations. It should allow children to
reach their fullest potential in terms of cognitive, emotional and creative capacities.
Improving the quality of education would require systems in which the principles of
scientific development and modernization could be learned in ways that respect learners’
socio-cultural contexts. 

Thus, a quality education system must manage to provide all
children and young people with a comprehensive education and with an appropriate
preparation for working life, life in society and private life. This should be achieved
without distinctions of any kind such as those based on parents’ income, colour, gender,
language, religion, political and other opinion, national or social origin.
Underpinning UNESCO’s quality education framework is a four-fold principle of
learning (Jacques Delors, 1996) as illustrated below:
Type Principle
Learning to Know Acknowledging that quality learning
provides opportunities for learners to build
their own knowledge daily combining
indigenous and external elements
Learning to Do Opportunities for learners to apply what
they learn
Learning to Live Together Developing in learners attitudes free from
discrimination, where all have equal
opportunities to develop themselves, their
families and their communities
Learning to develop skills Emphasis on skills required for developing
individuals’ full potential
This conceptualization of education provides an integrated and a comprehensive view of
learning and, therefore, of what constitutes education quality.
The Jomtien Declaration and Dakar Framework for Action
The World Declaration on Education for All (EFA), in 1990, identified quality as a
prerequisite for achieving the fundamental goal of equity. While the notion of quality was
not fully developed, it was recognized that expanding access alone would be insufficient
for education to contribute fully to the development of the individual and society.
Emphasis was accordingly placed on assuring an increase in children’s cognitive
development by improving the quality of their education. Similarly, the 2000 Dakar
Framework for Action affirmed that quality was ‘at the heart of education’ – a
fundamental determinant of enrolment, retention and achievement. Its expanded
definition of quality set out the desirable characteristics of learners (healthy, motivated
students), processes (competent teachers using active pedagogies), content (relevant
curricula) and systems (good governance and equitable resource allocation). Although
this established an agenda for achieving good education quality, it did not ascribe any
relative weighting to the various dimensions identified. Thus, the Dakar forum
emphasized the need to “improve all aspects of quality of education to achieve
recognized and measurable learning outcomes for all-especially in literacy, numeracy and
essential life skills” (Dakar Framework for Action, Article 7, World Education Forum

4. Dimensions of Education Quality
The following dimensions of education quality emerge from the literature:
Learner Characteristics
How people learn - and how quickly - is strongly influenced by their capacities
and experience. Assessments of the quality of education outputs should not ignore initial
differences among learners. Important determining characteristics can include cultural
and religious background and the amount and nature of prior learning. It is therefore
important that potential inequalities among students, deriving from gender, disability,
race and ethnicity, HIV/AIDS status and situations of emergency are recognized. These
differences in learner characteristics often require special responses if quality is to be
Links between education and society are strong and each influences the other.
Education can help change society by improving and strengthening skills, values,
communications, mobility (link with personal opportunity and prosperity) personal
prosperity and freedom. However, education usually reflects society rather strongly: The
values and attitudes that inform it (education) are those of society at large. Equally
important is whether education takes place in the context of an affluent society or one
where poverty is widespread. In the latter case, opportunities to increase resource for
education are likely to be constrained.
More directly, national policies for education also provide an influential context.
For example, goals and standards, curricula and teacher policies set the enabling
conditions within which educational practice occurs. These contextual circumstances
have an important potential influence upon education quality.

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