QUALITY SUSTENANCE IN HIGHER EDUCATION THROUGH ACCREDITATION by tyndale

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									                                   ICDE International Conference
                                November 19 – 23, 2005, New Delhi




     QUALITY SUSTENANCE IN HIGHER EDUCATION THROUGH
                     ACCREDITATION
                      S. Arockiasamy and B. Krishna Prasad
                 NVKSD College of Education, Attoor, Kanyakumari, India
                               dr_sa_sxce@yahoo.co.in



                                           Abstract

Education is a deliberate enterprise and all nations aim at providing good quality educational
programmes to its citizens so as to significantly contribute towards the development of the
nation. We also need to sustain quality to face the challenges that creep every now and then in
a technology-based society. Internalizing quality culture in higher education and spreading the
same is said to be the prime duty of the accredited higher educational institutions. NAAC
(India) is one of the vital agencies that encourage and assess quality and encourage the
accredited colleges of education to share their best quality practices with one another.

This paper focuses on the following thrust areas: a) need for self-assessment among colleges
of education; b) mechanisms in preparation for self-assessment report; c) creating and
monitoring of Internal Assessment Quality Assurance Cell in colleges of education; d)
establishment of a linkage between colleges of education and distance mode of teacher
education; e) need for creation of network of colleges of education and distance mode of
teacher education; f) creating awareness among the students in colleges of education about
quality in teacher education; and g) ways and means of sharing best quality practices among
teacher education institutions.


                                        Introduction

Education all over the world is still looked upon as a harbinger of all other changes - social,
cultural, economic, scientific and technological. Education as a deliberate enterprise of
mankind always aims at providing quality programmes to the citizens of a nation so as to take
them on an onward march towards progress and prosperity. Organisations that provide
quality and value in the provision of their educational services are likely to grow and prosper.
Such organisations gain benefits like stronger student and staff loyalty and public support,
when the quality of service rendered is recognised and acclaimed publicly through a process
of objective assessment and certification. National Assessment and Accreditation Council has
come to the forefront to encourage and ensure quality through initial self-evaluation by the
institution followed by external review and certification.

                                        Background

In India in recent years, there has been not only increased demand for higher education, but
also the mushroom growth of higher educational institutions with substandard facilities.
Many preconditions stipulated as mandatory at the time of affiliation often either remain
ignored or sidelined ultimately resulting in the dilution of standards of the higher education
systems. This has been aptly pictured as “Growth of universities and colleges without proper
infrastructural facilities is one of the principal reasons for decline in academic standards”
(V.K. Rao, 2003: 273). Quality Assurance has implicitly predominated all walks of life from
industry, service centres and hospitals to education. The need for quality has proved to be a
decisive factor in determining a success or failure of any service. While highlighting the
importance of quality in higher education, Dr. (Fr.) Thomas Cathamparampil, Kennedy
Andrew Thomas and Grace Pais (2005: 1) have opined “Quality in higher education has been
a matter of importance, concern and priority at regional, national and international levels
especially in the recent past”.

Institutions of higher education have the major responsibility for equipping individuals with
the advanced knowledge and skills required for positions of responsibility in government,
business and the profession. Quality higher education, according to Article 11 of The World
Declaration on Higher Education published by the United Nations is a multi-dimensional
concept which should embrace all its functions and activities: teaching and academic
programmes, research and scholarships, staffing, students, buildings, faculties, equipments,
services, the community and the academic environment. The increasing demands for good
quality higher education by students and public imply that higher educational institutions are
facing stronger competitions from local, regional, national and international levels. Some
higher educational institutions experience problems in retaining both academic staff and
dealing with growing student needs. Sometime, staff and students may perceive that other
institutions are offering more valuable education in terms of quality (recognition, career
development, student support, etc).

“Good quality education makes the people learned, hardworking and honest. If the
youngsters of a nation receive good education, they will blossom as well informed, honest
and hardworking citizens. Such a nation alone deserves to be called a nation”
(Muthukumaran, 2005: 5). Realizing this, all nations are focusing their attention on
enhancing the quality of education. Quality service is expected by all in every walk of life.
Education cannot be an exception to this expectation. In the words of Dr. John Pullparamphil
(1999: 77) “In order to ensure that total quality is working, we must have a process that
proves that our service is what our customers want, that it is delivered when they want it and
how they want it”. Quality can be defined as that which best satisfies and exceeds customer’s
needs and wants. Quality can be of two kinds, intrinsic and extrinsic. The intrinsic quality of
higher education refers to the basic value and ideals, which form the very heart of higher
education. It focuses on the knowledge creating processes and student learning. It represents
the core of academic quality. The academic community can be seen as the guardian of
intrinsic quality. The extrinsic quality refers to the capacities of higher educational institution
to respond to the needs of the society with whom they interact. It concerns the demands that
society directs towards higher education. It should be determined by economic demands or
the state demands both of which form pillars of society.

                                        Accreditation

Accreditation is the result of a review of an education programme or institution following
certain quality standards agreed upon before hand. It is a kind of recognition that a
programme or institution fulfills certain standards. In modern times, educational institutions
should become more accountable to the need of student community, parent community and
society at large. For this, effective quality management is a must. There is a healthy
movement taking place in the area of quality education. The setting up of the National
Assessment and Accreditation Council is a commendable step. The fact that institutions
voluntarily come forward to get assessed is another indication of this healthy trend.

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) was established by the UGC
Act in 1994 as an autonomous body with the mandate to assess and accredit institutions of
higher education or the units thereof in the country. It follows a three-stage process for
accrediting a unit of assessment.



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•   Preparation and submission of self-study report by the unit of assessment
•   On-site visitation of the peer team for validation of report and for recommending the
    assessment outcome to NAAC
•   Final decision by the Executive Council of NAAC

Purposes of Accreditation

The following purposes can be better served through the process of assessment and
accreditation:

•   To see that the educational institutions are adhering to the plan of academic programmes
    set out
•   To ensure proper infrastructural facilities and competent faculty
•   To give proper guidance and counselling wherever needed to the institution
•   To bring accountability of the educational institutions
•   To focus on education quality and institutional integrity
•   To recognize and reward excellence in performance of institutions
•   To check the emergence of substandard institutions
•   To promote a conducive climate that can facilitate innovations with the whole-hearted
    involvement of faculty
•   To provide course-wise information to the consumer
•   To make the desire for quality as the overarching principles in every operation
•   To make the institution more knowledgeable about the needs of standard academics
•   To create desirability through higher educational institutions meeting social and economic
    trends while maintaining high level of academic integrity and superior quality.

Accreditation for Teacher Education

Teacher education occupies a predominant place in the educational ladder of a country. “It is
nigh impossible to over estimate the role of the teacher in a civilized society. The vital part
which he plays is a yardstick that measures the achievement and aspirations of the nation to
the services which he dedicates himself” (Swamy Chidbhavananda, 1999: 104).

The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) was established on 17th August 1995 to
regulate and maintain norms and standards in teacher education and give recognition to
teacher education institutions offering courses or training in teacher education. The NCTE
has initiated a quality assurance mechanism in collaboration with NAAC in 2002. The NCTE
has instructed all teacher education institutions to undergo the collaborative assessment
shortly. A number of teacher education institutions including Colleges of Education all over
India have already undergone this collaborative assessment. Many institutions are under way
in undertaking the self-study followed by assessment and accreditation by NAAC. The
methodology is the same as in the case of universities and other institutions of higher
education.

The criteria have been slightly modified without losing sight of any aspects of functioning to
suite the context of teacher education in institutions as follows:

•   Curriculum Design and Planning
•   Curriculum Transaction and Evaluation
•   Research Development and Extension
•   Infrastructure and Learning Resources
•   Student Support and Progression
•   Organization and Management



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Rationale for Self-Assessment in Colleges of Education

Colleges of Education are primarily established with the unique purpose of preparation of
dynamic teachers who in-turn mould the youth to shoulder responsibilities in different fields
of life. These Colleges of Education like other institutions of higher education have to
provide quality education to the would-be teachers through pre-service training and to the
servicing teachers through in-service training and to the community through extension
activities. Self-study as a mechanism is considered to be the best mechanism making an
evaluation of the very functioning of the institution. Self-assessment is the regular and
systematic evaluation of the organization with reference to its actual achievement as well as
achievement potential done through an internal process with the participation of the relevant
work teams. It can be focused on the total organisation or just a part of it.

The fundamental questions to be posed and answered are:
•   What should we achieve and How should we achieve them?
•   What strategies are being used and How effective they are?
•   Where do we do well, (strengths) and Where we do not do well (Weaknesses and Areas
    for Improvement)?

The above questions are to be posed at the beginning of the academic year and from time to
time, and efforts are to be taken to answer them objectively through practical measures. The
above exercise will help a College of Education to understand where the institution is in the
light of where it should be? It can also establish a strong basis for preparation of an action
plan towards preservation of the best practices paving way for improvements wherever
necessary.

Creating and Monitoring IQAC in Colleges of Education

The NAAC proposes that every accredited institution establish an Internal Quality Assurance
Cell (IQAC) as a post accreditation quality sustenance measure. Quality enhancement is a
continuous process and IQAC will become a part of an institution system and work towards
realizing the goals of quality sustenance and enhancement. The IQAC has the potential to
become a vehicle for ushering quality by working out intervention strategies to remove the
deficiencies and enhance quality.

Purposes

The IQAC can serve the following functions:
•   To ensure continuous improvement in the entire operation of the College of Education
•   To assure stake holders connected with the College of Education namely students,
    parents, teachers, would-be employers, funding agencies and society in general of the
    accountability of the institution for its own quality and probity

Mechanisms

The IQAC will be constituted in a College of Education that has already been accredited as a
post accreditation measure to sustain and enhance quality. As a College of Education is a
single faculty institution, it is desirable to have the following as composition of IQAC with
Principal as Chairman, three senior teaching faculties as members, one member from the
management, one nominee from the Alumni Association and one eminent person from local
society. A senior member of the teaching faculty can act as the coordinator.




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Functions

The functions of the IQAC may be outlined as follows:
•    Ensuring progressive performance of academic, administrative and financial tasks
•    Equitable access of the academic programmes to various sections of the society
•    Optimization and integration of modern methods of teaching and learning
•    Establishment of credibility of evaluation procedures
•    Research sharing and networking with other institutions in India to start with and abroad
     later on

The role of the coordinator of IQAC is very crucial in ensuring the effective cooperation and
functioning of all the members. The coordinator is expected to take care of the following
functions:
•    Evolving and applying of quality benchmarks / parameters in various activities of the
     institution
•    Organizing seminars and workshops for promotion of quality circles
•    Dissemination of information on quality aspects
•    Recording and monitoring quality measures of the institution
•    Acting as a nodal agency of the institution for quality related activities
•    Preparation of annual quality assurance reports and such other reports as deem necessary
     from time to time
•    A report on the key areas identified at the beginning of the academic year along with
     perspective plan prepared followed by the action report is to be submitted to the NAAC
     towards the end of the academic year.

    Establishment of Linkages between Colleges of Education and Distance
                         Mode of Teacher Education

Distance Education Council (DEC) in India is an adjunct body of IGNOU. It has taken the
initiative in promoting the quality of distance education that is equivalent to internal quality
enhancement mechanisms in a university or a higher educational institution. To be in line
with the international trend quality assurance of distance education has to be done by an
external body. This has brought NAAC and DEC together to develop the tools and
methodology for quality assurance in distance education and DEC has entered into an
agreement with NAAC for accreditation of the distance education providers in the country.
NAAC - DEC deliberations have resulted in an agreement that the same criteria used for
traditional teacher educational institution will serve as the basis of the assessment procedure
for the distance education and open education providers. Antony Stella and Gnanam, A (2003
: 33) have rightly pointed out “In an area of knowledge explosion and growth of multi-
disciplinary subjects, interactions with other institutions through formal linkages have become
necessary”. Universities had linkages with the national and foreign universities for research
all along which now should be expanded to teaching as well. Further, the emergence of new
forms of delivery systems with a large number of private providers has also put pressure on
traditional institutions to diversify and establish linkage with other institutions.

As far as teacher education programme is concerned, the IGNOU has started offering
Bachelor of Education Programme to the servicing teachers through linkage with regular
Colleges of Education without sacrificing quality. The Tamilnadu Government Open
University has also introduced Bachelor of Education Programme on the model set by the
IGNOU. To start with these Open Universities have been sharing the services of staff faculty
and resources such as infrastructural facilities including library, laboratory, etc. As a kind of
common framework in the curriculum is found even the course materials are exchanged
between Colleges of Education and Open Universities through distance education modes.


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The programmes offered by the Open Universities are found to be at par with regular
programmes of Colleges of Education. Even the degrees issued by these universities are
treated at par with regular degrees for purposes of promotion and appointment in states like
Tamilnadu. Teleconferencing and video conferencing introduced by the IGNOU are quite
beneficial to the student teachers in regular Colleges of Education. Moreover, students
undergoing the B.Ed. programme through distance mode are found to be highly satisfied with
the way the programmes are planned and executed by Colleges of Education on behalf of the
Open Universities.

Ways and Means of Sharing Best Practices

The accredited institutions have the prime responsibility of sustaining the quality in higher
education. These institutions have been given status for achievements and made known to the
policy makers, administrators, staff and students, and public with further expectations from
them. Hence, they should not be complacent with their achievement. They must work
strenuously not only to sustain the quality but also move several steps forward in this regard.
The society also expects these institutions to be centres of excellence coupled with
innovations.

Best practices evolved and put into actions, if remain dormant at the birthplaces without
crossing the borders, are of no use. They should be disseminated for meaningful reflections
and wider adoptions in various institutions with slight modifications wherever necessary.
Some steps in this regard may be as follows:

•   Creation of websites by institutions with special focus on the best practices
•   Convening of conferences and workshops to bring together accredited institutions and
    institutions aspiring for accreditation for purpose of exchange of ideas and practices
•   Publishing articles on best practices in educational journals and periodicals
•   Networking of accredited institutions to share faculty facilities and research
•   Creation of database of accredited Colleges of Education by NAAC
•   Creation of nodal College of Education under which other Colleges of Education may
    work on the criteria evolved for Colleges of Education
•   Strengthening cooperation among Colleges of Education through teacher and student
    exchange programmes
•   Tie-up of Colleges of Education with the IGNOU and State Open Universities offering
    teacher education programmes
•   Arranging Teleconferencing and video conferencing on the best practices to benefit the
    administrators, teachers and students

                                        Conclusion

In conclusion, it may be noted that the survival of any educational institution in the
competitive world primarily lies in attracting the beneficiaries through provision of total
quality service.

References

V.K. Rao. (2003). Quality Education. Quality Improvement Issues in Higher Education. New
       Delhi: APH Publishing Corporation.
Dr. (Fr.) Thomas Cathamparampil. (2005). Best Practices in Higher Education. A Study of
       Best Practices in Administration of Higher Educational Institutions in India.
       Bangalore: Centre for Education beyond Curriculum.




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S. Muthukumaran. (2005). Innovative Practices in Teaching-Learning and Evaluation.
      Rev. Dr. S. Sebastian and Dr. S. Arockiasamy (Eds.). Inaugural Address.
      Palayamkottai: St. Xavier’s College of Education.
Swamy Chidbhavananda. (1999). The Indian National Education. The Teacher.
      Thirupparaithurai: Thabovanam Series.
John Pulparamphil. (1999). Managing Quality of Service: A Handbook on TQM. Self-
      Assessment in Government Department. Thiruvananthapuram: Institute of
      Management in Government.
Antony Stella and A. Gnanam. (2003). Making the Most of Accreditation. Balancing the
      National and International Developments in Higher Education. New Paradigms in
      Higher Education. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company.




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About Authors

Dr. S. Arockiasamy is presently Reader in History working in St. Xavier’s College of
Education, Palayamkottai, Tamilnadu since 1979. He obtained his Doctorate in Education on
the area ‘Value Education’. He has guided so far 25 research scholars at the M.Ed. level, 45
at the M.Phil. level and 4 at the Ph.D. level and guiding 8 Ph.D. scholars in Education. He
has organized more than six state level and national level seminars and workshops sponsored
by the UGC, NAAC and other agencies. He has authored three books for B.Ed. and M.Ed.
students besides publication of more than 15 papers in reputed journals.

Address:       Dr. S. Arockiasamy,
               13/17, M.L. Pillai Nagar,
               Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli - 627 002
               Tamilnadu.
e-mail: dr_sa_sxce@yahoo.co.in


Dr. B. Krishna Prasad is presently working as Reader in Education in NVKSD College of
Education, Attoor, Kanyakumari District, Tamilnadu since 1984. He obtained his Doctorate
in Education on the area ‘Teacher Effectiveness’. He has guided so far 48 M.Ed. scholars, 49
M.Phil. scholars and guiding 6 Ph.D. research scholars. He has participated and presented
papers in state level and national level seminars sponsored by the UGC and NAAC. He has
authored three books for B.Ed. and M.Ed. students and published more than 10 papers in
reputed journals. He served as a member in the Academic Council, Standing Committee on
Academic Affairs and Senate in the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University. Presently he is
the Programme In-charge of the IGNOU B.Ed. Programme (2591).

Address:       Dr. B. Krishna Prasad,
               15-A, Sreniketh, Water Tank Road,
               Nagercoil - 629 001
               Kanyakumari District, Tamilnadu.
e-mail: dr_sa_sxce@yahoo.co.in




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