The education sector can be defined as organizations and businesses that provide products and services aimed at enhancing the quality of education in a society (Technofunc.com, 2023). These organizations can be public or privately owned and they include, “Institutions like schools, universities, teacher training colleges, and ministries of education and they interact both with each other and with other stakeholders, such as parents, local communities, and religious groups” (Wikipedia, 2023). The term education refers to, “the deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to transmit, provoke or acquire knowledge, values, attitudes, skills or sensibilities as well as any learning that results from the effort (Cremin, 1976: 27), It is an intentional and “purposeful activity that can happen within a wide range of frameworks and not only in buildings called schools” (Chazan, 2022). Education can be formal (structured learning) and takes place in frameworks such as schools (both public and private) and informal (unstructured) learning that happens through daily experiences (Wikipedia.2023).
Government and international organizations have a big influence on education in any country. Governments develop policies that affect the education sector. They have an impact on the knowledge and skills that are transmitted to the nation and the globe as a whole. Intergovernmental organizations like UNESCO also play a role in shaping the structure of education in different countries. (UNESCO, 2021). The International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) arrange education into levels and fields (level 1 to level 6). These levels range from pre-primary, primary, secondary, tertiary and higher education, through to technical and vocational education.
Education is considered a basic human right for all children and young people in the world (UNESCO, 2022). It works to eradicate poverty, reduces inequalities and it is a way to ensure sustainable development. Education is a key to the attainment of the majority of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of a country (for example, poverty, hunger, health, gender equality and economic growth), among other goals. The words of Nelson Mandela that Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world and the words of Ban Ki-moon (former secretary-General of the United Nations) that, education must fully assume its central role in helping people to forge more than just, peaceful and tolerant societies, shows that education is one of the strong pillars of any nation. Education stimulates economic growth and it makes it possible for an economy to tackle or manage local and global problems like climate change and pandemics like the COVID- 19 pandemic. It determines how nations maintain economic competitiveness.
For education to fully assume and play its central role in shaping the society, a quality culture in this sector must be pursued and engraved in all stakeholders. What does it mean to say quality education? Quality education is, “that education which focuses on social, emotional, mental, physical and cognitive development of each student regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status or geographical location” (Leverageedu.com, 2023). This also applies to staff of all levels. The United Nations (UN) has identified quality education as a sustainable development goal (SDG 4), to ensure the ‘transformation of the world’ by 2030. Quality Education must be inclusive and equitable (UNESCO, 2021).
It means the importance of quality assurance in education cannot be over emphasized. In the context of education, there is need for quality inputs quality learners, quality learning environments, quality content, quality processes and quality outcomes. Every dimension needs to be quality assured. Education quality assurance means the, “systematic quality management and evaluation measures adopted by schools or education providers and external validation agencies to monitor, supervise and evaluate educational inputs, process and the outputs for the purposes of, maintaining approved educational standards, ensuring the appropriate education development of a learner, providing public accountability/transparency, ensuring the credibility and integrity of the education system and ensuring constant review, improvement and renewal policies and practices” (The Law Insider Dictionary, 2013-2023:1). The quality assurance review will determine the quality of learners an institution has and whether they are healthy and motivated to learn or not. What of the physical infrastructure, quality of school facilities and so on? Are the methodologies being used to teach the learner competent enough and up to standards? How about the teachers? Are they trained? With the rising of the 4th industrial revolution, methods of transmitting and receiving information have changed. Quality assurance enables an institution to be at par with technology and they remain relevant.
One of the pillars of quality education is the curriculum. Institutions need to be operating on a relevant curriculum based on the standards, rules and regulations of the country, the level and the field of education, the SDGs, the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25) and Agenda 2030, among others. Every aspect should be reflected on the outcome. After providing quality inputs, an institution is expected to have a good quality outcome. Adhering to quality assurance and implementing quality standards and principles will ensure excellent quality education outputs (Kuswanto and Anderson, 2021) Quality assurance can be in levels; institutional, national, regional and international. There must be systems at an institutional level to monitor and assess quality standards, practices, processes and procedures. Government ministries and designated agencies are also responsible for monitoring and assessing the quality and accreditation of any institution. Accreditation is a tool to ensure quality education and it is used as an instrument to improve academic services, ensure transparency in the system and processes and making accountability at appropriate levels (Kumar et al,2020). Accreditation is important within the institution and it also plays a significant role at the local and international levels. (Acevedo-De-los-Ríos and Rondinel-Oviedo, 2022).
The Global Quality Assurance Association (GQAA), is at your disposal to ensure that the quality culture prevails and thrives across the education sector. It is ready for constant retooling, upskilling and capacity building of all types of institutions and different stakeholders. Quality assurance management involves planning, implementation and evaluation of quality dimensions of an institution. The GQAA also conduct institutional needs and situational analysis to help institutions to do quality mapping, self-assessment and self-evaluation to determine strengths and weaknesses of the institution and map the way forward.  The future of the education system depends on leaders who and educational communities which are able to learn, unlearn and relearn. The GQAA builds institutional capacity through continual training of leaders and staff in the industry on rising and relevant issues related to quality assurance. The association trains institutions how to embrace change and ride on the opportunities. Research and development are at the core of quality assurance hence the GQAA does not take that for granted. It is involved in trainings on research and development courses and it does other skills training depending on the needs of the institution. It also does digital systems strength assessments and gives appropriate recommendations, solutions and support. It also conducts external monitoring and evaluation services as well the development of tools and instruments tailor made to develop excellence at all times and at all levels. The GQAA understands the role that accreditation has on the academic rating of an education institution. It helps institutions to prepare for accreditation at all levels in all aspects. It also helps institutions to review educational programs following the standards and rules expected. Building and maintaining the quality culture is the GQAA’s mandate and it is open to work with all education sector stakeholders.
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