Quality as a Defining Feature

What Do We Mean by ‘Quality Education’?

Goal 4 from the Sustainable Development Goals looks at “Quality Education”. Department of education and researchers are searching to make sense of what Quality Education would mean in an African Context amidst the history of colonialism, current globalization and degradation of the environment.

Group Activity 6:

In your groups, discuss what “quality” in education. Consider the following in your discussion:

  • The differences between access and quality
  • The differences between standardisation and quality
  • What quality looks like in a rapidly changing world, in the context of wicked problems and social-ecological uncertainty.

Quality Education and the SDGs

So What Do We Mean by Quality Education in South Africa?

The National Development Plan provides a starting point for thinking about quality education. The chart below summarises some of the key development priorities for South Africa between now and 2030, with a particular focus on education, training and innovation.

As you can see, the focus is on quantitative achievement, rather than strengthening quality education. In addition, while the plan takes account of more economically-oriented development, there is poor articulation of sustainable development. Therefore, the National Development Plan provides only the broadest framework for strengthening quality education in the context of sustainable development, and requires us to more carefully articulate environmental and social justice aspects of the goals in the context of transformative education.

Group Activity 7: Troubling the National Development Plan

In your groups, work together to review the National Development Plan infographic above.

  1. Can you identify what the priorities are within this plan?
  2. Revisit your ideas from the first activity in this section. How do they relate to the priorities of the National Development Plan? What is currently under-represented within the document?
  3. In your group, rework the key areas of the National Development Plan, drawing on what you have learnt thus far in the course. Share your adaptions in the form of a poster (focus on the content of ideas, more than the look of the poster).

UNESCOs Framing of Quality Education

Conceptions of Quality Education in Fundisa for Change

As can be seen, there is a tendency to conflate interests in access to education and infrastructure with quality education.

Rob O”Donoghue in his work in the active learning and teaching booklet for the Fundisa for Change explored the concept of quality, through suggesting a balanced approach between the CAPS principles and exploring how the ESD principles support “acquisition with participation” and “participation with acquisition”. Working with situated knowledge resources with a focus on ESD to support active teaching and learning in CAPS enables pedagogies that support the process of learning to live, learning to do and learning to …. for a common good. In the active teaching and learning in CAPS booklet a further point highlighted is the concept of being more aware of what we teach, how we teach and how we assess are important towards becoming enablers of quality.