Vision for how you live

As far as the national statistics are concerned, one would agree that the primary education in Bangladesh has reached a level of universalization. More than 95 per cent of the primary age children are enrolled in schools, retention rate reached about 62 per cent and dropout decreased to about 38 per year. Besides that the curriculum has been revised and updated, large number of teachers are trained and academic supervision is strengthened through thana administration and involvement of community at the local level. Considering the inputs, at one hand, one must appreciate the strides made in the provision of primary education but on the other hand, it is equally discouraging that our interest in output or quality of education remains largely unattended. The major blame for this lacking in quality goes to the quantitative expansion of primary education, even though there is no hard evidence to support this position. In fact, in the pursuit of the goal of education both quantitative and qualitative expansion become prerequisite.

Educators still debate the word "quality' in persuasion of primary education. It is agreed by many people that the quality of education (QoE) can be more objectively and concretely seen in terms of the quality of primary schools because it may lead to quality education in schools. How far this assumption is true, is not clear. Therefore, the question arises: what should one look for in assessing the quality of primary education? Should one look for the level of materials and/or human inputs available, or one should look for the whole interactive processes between the man and the material that influence education? Still there may be other concerns of quality which is perceived by the people living at the ends of the provider-consumer continuum. That is. providers or implementer's (Ministry of Education, donors) perspective of quality and consumers' (parents, community, learners) perspective of quality may not be the same for education. Providers' satisfaction may not be the same as that of the consumer's. This is what we need to address while considering the quality of primary education in schools or basic education in any institute.

Quality of education is a vague or illusive term. Educationists, researchers, providers and consumers all have their own definitions of quality. To the educationist it is securing high marks, while educational policy makers think of it as good buildings, more teachers and more students, etc. To a researcher, quality of education means a high correlation between different educational variables. And the consumers perceive it as desirable changes in the children. Among the professional workers of quality of education, Beeby (1979) defines it in terms of quality of school as:

Quality may be viewed as a qualitative change of simple linear expansion o diminution of current practice, more or less, or already exists: more buildings, more '< idtMii and teachers, fewer examinations of the present type and standard.

Another definition given by Monzoor Ahmed (1991 ) states:

h is intricate!) and integrally linked with the goals of the educational programme .. the process and inputs of education - how teaching-learning occurs, who teaches with what learning materials and in what kind of facilities - are usually raised as quality related questions.

The above definitions provide a guideline of quality rather than giving any conclusive indication. In this respect the constitution of Bangladesh provides a very good direction in the development of a national definition of quality, that is "the state shall adopt effective measures for the purpose of relating education to the needs of society and producing properly trained and motivated citizens to serve those needs". So, by this definition, quality relates to satisfying ability of societal needs and creating motivated citizens. Do we have any effective measure for identifying societal needs? What are the indicators of motivated citizenry? Therefore the agreed upon definition of quality varies from the quality of schools to the quality of the process of schooling. One of the researchers like Beeby (1979) focuses on the school quality from the perspective of actors and actions involved in school functioning rather than passive material inputs in school. The counter arguments to this statement focuses on the 'school effectiveness" rather than the 'school quality'. An advantage of this approach over the other is that it allows for more objective measurement of school quality as reflected in the learning outcome caused by various inputs and process provided in the educational institute.

The concept of quality in education also needs to be understood from the socio-cultural context of me country, such as in an egalitarian society all practices of schooling which are likely to lead to greater inequality in the society become less desirable. In such a society quality measures will adopt both the quality and equity, not the individual or institutional excellence According to Naik (1975). "'Quality can be defined both on an egalitarian and a nonegalitarian basis, according to the value premise one adopts.

QoE in Developed and Developing Countries

Quality is a multidimensional concept. Depending upon the nature and purpose of education, various dimensions arc added to the perception of quality. Thus, education in the formal and non-formal stream as well as in developed and developing societies all have their won perspective of quality. The idea of quality grows in support of other phenomena like school, curriculum, teaching-learning, etc. Three reviews on qualitative aspects of education in developed countries have been referred to here to discuss quality. Purkey and Smith (1983), Weindling (1989) and Johnson and Holdaway (1990) reviewed large number of studies in developed countries and tried to identify factors which are related to quality of education.

Purkey and Smith (1983) identified two major variables of school effectiveness in developed societies which are related to quality of education. These are organization/structure variable and process variable. These two variables are again sub-divided into several components of school, such as management, teaching-learning, and community variables. Purkey and Smith conclude that organizational variables provide the context within which process characteristics operate and create an atmosphere that leads to higher achievement in students. Weindling (1989) viewed the quality in terms of eight factors like: academic emphasis, classroom management, keeping orderliness in school, classroom instruction and learning, monitoring, staff development, authority support and parental involvement. If attention is provided to these factors with due emphasis the output of school system will also be of effective one. Johnson and Holdaways (1990), distinct from above two reviews, identified some characteristics for effective primary school like a positive and supportive climate, high staff and student morale, sound leadership, shared decision making and administration, competent teachers and emphasis on student achievement and community support.

The concept of quality in the developing world is obviously different from the perspective of the developed world. Mere in the developing world people look at the product of education, not at the process. That is why material or process inputs that help provide better achievement are valued more than the process produced qualitative change in students. It also appears from research (Fuller. 1990) that school factors are important in developing countries because they can contribute significantly to the student achievement which is not very significant in industrialized countries. Fuller also observed that in developing countries teachers" educational background, particularly tertiary level achievement and teacher training have contributory effects on student performance but some other costly inputs like teaching materials, science laboratory etc. do not have such effects on achievement. Similar type of' observation is also evident in a World Bank (1990) document, that children's learning is a function of family background and school inputs. Family background characteristics enhance children's teach ability and school inputs create the learning environment through curriculum. Learning materials, instructional time, and teaching methods, etc.

Quality of education in the primary level is not an independent issue in this sub-continent, rather it is conceived as contingent upon various other factors related to the education system. Moreover, as the final achievement in examination is the main look out of the people in this sub-continent, any factor which leads to achieving higher scores in examination is valued quality. A review of 200 studies (Buch and Buch, 1983) carried out at various Indian universities and research institutes focusing on the determinants of learning outcomes at l first level of education, reveals that three groups of factors are directly related to the students performance. These groups of factors are (i) family characteristics like parents' social class, education, occupation, etc., (ii) school characteristics, like facilities and equipment in schools and (iii) individual characteristics like adjustment, anxiety, self-concept, intelligence etc. Evidence is also available in support of this finding elsewhere in the sub-continent.

In a large scale evaluation of primary education in Thailand (Chantavanich et al., 1990), four indices of efficiency have been identified to measure quality of the system; these are student achievement, access to primary education, wastage in primary education and school community relations. All the four components are closely linked to the quality of education. I this study achievement was solely attributed as the indicator of quality of education. Some other qualitative factors which were found to affect student's learning achievement were educational administrative system, headmasters, teachers, teaching-learning process, parent and students and the community. However, two other factors like character formation and student's ability to apply knowledge with respect to their life-style and careers were also identified as quality indicators but those were not properly studied.

Qualify Concern in Bangladesh

Bangladesh being in the list of low income countries with huge number of illiterate population recently (1993) started the compulsory primary education (CPE) programme throughout the whole country. First of all the objective of this programme is to bring all the primary age children to schools and hold them for five years so that they can get the minimum level of basic education to the needs of the society. But unfortunately, despite giving all efforts to its improvement the quality of the available education has been quite unsatisfactory. According to the EFA National Plan of Action (1993):

Although continuous efforts are being made to improve the curricula, the primary and secondary education are yet to go a long way to make them more interesting and fully useful for the real life needs of the students; the method of teaching and assessment at different levels do not contribute substantially to the development of the mind and problem solving aptitude of the learners, and the capacity of learning by rote gets sufficiently rewarded"(p. 15)

The above situation provides a gloomy picture of the education system in Bangladesh. Efforts were given to improve the quality of education from administrative side and political commitments from the government side were also made to support that struggle. But due to constraints of energy and resources needful progress in the quality could not be achieved. It is also interesting to note that only a few of the recommendations of the set Education Commissions were accepted in some form or other for qualitative improvement. However, besides all the counter evidences, the establishment of universal and compulsory primary education indicates a notable expansion and qualitative improvement in primary education. Other important measures which may contribute to quality of education are (i) decision to fill up 60% vacant position in primary schools by female teachers, (ii) continuous effort for curriculum and textbook improvement, (iii) intensifying teachers training and introducing sub-cluster training for teachers, (iv) distribution of free textbooks (in government primary schools only,) (v) introduction of continuous pupil assessment for monitoring and auto promotion in grades 1 and II,(vi) involving NGOs and supporting them for non-formal primary education, (vii) continuous programmes for repairs, rehabilitation and reconstruction of schools damaged by flood, cyclones or inadequate maintenance.

As a mark of qualitative improvement, a recent development in the primary education in Bangladesh is the introduction of 'Multiple Ways of Teaching and Learning, in selected schools. This intervention came on the basis of Howard Gardner's work on seven intelligence in Harvard University. This intervention brought about a big change in the teaching-learning process in schools affecting the quality of education in general.

Conceptual Framework for QoE

It is very difficult to indicate certain phenomena as quality of education by pointing to a particular set of variables in the system. Whatever changes or qualitative modification is brought about among the students in any educational programme is the result of multiple effects of some independent and intervening variables. Therefore, QoE needs to be understood in the context of those variables involved in the overall educational programme, because these variables interact at various level and evolve newly related phenomena known as educational outputs or dependent variables. When these dependent variables, in qualitative or quantitative terms, remain at the highest profile the whole system is said to be a quality product.

A conceptual framework of QoE representing all the variables' or given phenomena is needed. The independent variables to be set in this framework may be national goal, curriculum and the mode of educational programme (formal or non-formal), etc. National goal is the main guiding force of the blueprint of the whole education programme, depending upon the nature of the stream-formal or non-formal, the curriculum takes it's own course towards the ultimate goal of QoE.

Other factors which influence quality, known as intervening variables (may also be termed as process variables), also need to be identified and appropriately placed in the framework.

These intervening variables may be the schooling facilities, teacher related variables, properties and factors of teaching-learning process, administrative component like management and supervision, and the extent of community involvement. The framework may indicate the dependent variables as output or outcome of education. In other words, these outcomes represent QoE in any school. Within this broader category, the dependent variables may be children's attendance, retention and dropouts; cognitive and non-cognitive variables may be children's knowledge and character formation etc. An analytical framework for quality of education has been shown in Figure-1.

Figure-1: Analytical framework for quality of education.


The purpose of this article is to devote ourselves in measuring quality of primary education. In Bangladesh and in many other developing countries primary education has received considerable attention of all concerns (government and donors), but they emphasise only quantitative aspect, quality is not yet addressed to its full potential. Most of the countries in this region succeeded in bringing a large number of their primary age children to schools but their retention is not very satisfactory. Many qualitative changes have been made in the curriculum but its proper implementation needs more concerted efforts of all concerns. Monitoring is the best tool for its proper implementation, because it provides necessary feedback to the implementers. This is the continuous or periodic surveillance of the implementation of a project. By this tool not only should the physical progress of the project be monitored, but also the impact of the project, and developmental aspects of the project can be monitored. Previously, there were lots of exercise on monitoring and evaluation of primary education but equality of monitoring was not maintained. In this regard identification of monitoring indicators are important. So far, the indicators used in monitoring primary education are inputs and output indicators, process indicators are less frequently observed. In order words, quantitative aspects are more monitored than the qualitative aspects. There has been already a collection mania, i.e., many organizations have their own monitoring checklists and they are sometimes collected through their internal mechanism but they are rarely analyzed. Mostly the Monitoring Information System (MIS) data are stored in the computer; only a few are utilized for the preparation of annual reports or to satisfy the national or international donors. The data are rarely utilized by the regular practitioners for improvement of their own activity. Therefore, it is expected that this paper will generate ideas of developing simple and useful indicators for monitoring quality of education in primary schools.


Ahmed, Monzoor (1991) Basic Education and National Development. UN/CEF. Afu York
Beeby, C.E,(1979) Assessment of Indonesia Education: a guide in planning, Wellington, New Zealand council for Educational Research in Association with Oxford University Press.
Bitch, M.B. mi/./ biicli, P.M.( 1983) Review of studies on the determinants of outcomes at the first level o/ education \vuh emphasis on disadvanlaged groups. Bangkok, L'NESL'O-PROAP.
Clwwdhury, AMR, et at. (1997) Quality of primary educational in Bangladesh. In AK .lalaluddm and AMR Chowdhury (ecls.s Getting Started: University Quality of primary education in Bangladesh. The University press Limited Dhaka
Fuller, B. (199(1) " investments raise achievement in the Third World/" in Chapman. D.W. and carrier. C.A. (eds.) improving educational quality a global perspective. Greenwood press New York.
Johnson, .Y A. and Hloldaway, E.A. (1990) Effectiveness of primary schools. International journal o] educational Management, Vol. 4 no. 3
Naik, J.P. (1975) Quality, quantity, and equity: the elusive triangle. Bombay, Allied Publishers.
Purkey, S.C. and Smith, M.S. (1983) "Effective schools: a review". Elementary' School Journal. Vol. 83, No. 4. Pp. 427-52.
Weindling, D. (1989) "The process of school improvement: some practical messages from research" School organization, Vol. 9. No.1.
World Bank (199(1) Primary education a world bank policy paper, Washington D.C. World Bank.

Muhammad Nazmul Haq
Institute of Education & Research
University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Former Secretary General
South Asian Association of Psychologists (SAAP)
Input Variables
Process Variables
Output Variables
Vision Policy Financing Curriculum Contact time Quality of teacher Management & supervision Physical facilities Teaching-1 earning materials Equity of access

Teaching-learningprocess Co-curricular activities Activity & pupil record Classroom management Community involvement Academic leadership of the head teacher Quality of in-service training
Pupil achievement Enrollment, retention, completion rate Quantum and quality of assistance of school General upkeep of school Student mobility to higher grades or work
International Psychological Conference on  People and the Environment
Keynote Speech by
Professor Dr. Muhammad Raushan Ali
Quality Of  Education
Muhammad Nazmul Haq
To Create Better Minds
Professor Dr. Muhammad Raushan Ali


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