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Elisabeth Leu (2005)

The Role of Teachers, Schools, and Communities in Quality Education: A Review of the Literature

Academy for Educational Development

"This paper reviews a select body of literature that focuses on the role of teachers, schools, communities and process at the local level in creating quality education in less-developed countries.
The review that understanding what is happening in the schools and the classrooms is a precondition for shaping more effective quality improvement strategies.
There is little agreement about the meanings and implications of the term ?quality education,? however, education systems are often structured around what is believed to be a shared vision of quality. Some agreement on the general principles of quality has been reached, but it is unlikely that a universally accepted definition of quality will be reached or that a checklist of quality factors will be developed.
Research has shown that one important feature of quality is that it be locally defined, at the school and community level, not just at the district and national level.
Furthermore, the literature shows that policies and programs intended to improve education quality need to focus on schools and teachers, supported by strong supervision, flexible policies, efficient administration and community involvement, thus linking education quality to the concept of decentralization.
Another area seen as important to quality education is teachers. While dialogue at the national, district, school and community level should determine the qualities that an education system seeks in its teachers, defining quality in teachers highlights some shared perspectives, which are outlined in the review. The literature makes clear that the robotic approach to teacher development produces neither the teaching skills nor the attitudes required for improving classroom approaches and student learning. It stresses that if teachers are to become reflective practitioners and users of active teaching and learning methods they must participate in professional development programs that advocate and use these same models.
Content and relevance of curriculum is another element impacting quality. It is generally agreed that the Education for All (EFA) initiative to increase access brought about declines in quality?no matter the definition?as resources were stretched beyond effectiveness. Given the current situation of rapidly declining quality, the question of how much students are learning is critical. The data suggests that in many countries children are not acquiring even basic skills. Equity is also an essential factor relating to quality.
While equity concerns arise in relation to many groups this review examines only gender. The review found that despite national policies on gender equity, the involvement of local communities is essential in order to keep girls in school and that the perceived quality of education is more important to girls? retention rates than to that of boys.
Finally, measures that concentrate on providing improved infrastructure, more textbooks or better trained teachers will lead only to limited quality improvements.
The review concludes that it is at the school level where all inputs come together and interact, therefore, understanding what is happening in schools and in classrooms is a necessary precondition for addressing quality and developing effective quality improvement strategies. "

by feyfant last modified 2009-07-16 15:07

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