Posted on August 8, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu
There have been scores of surveys, national and international, that have reported our relative standing in terms of quality of school education and, to put it mildly, it is not to be proud of at any stretch of the imagination. We have dealt with the question of quality of education in several posts and have underscored the drastic difference in the quality of school education provided by private schools. In the present article, we will talk about the standardization of the quality of education and the policy level measure for it namely, accreditation.
Accreditation is not to be confused with affiliation. The latter precedes the former. In fact the board of affiliation viz. CBSE has devised a mechanism for accreditation of schools affiliated to it. There have been suggestions calling for far-reaching measures like accreditation renewal every three years and making accreditation mandatory under Quality Council of India. Presently, the quality of school education which accreditation attests has proven to be a useful parameter for the community and a benchmark for the school management. The accreditation of schools is an assessment of the quality of education the school has potential to provide and it has objectively set parameters against which the assessment is done. These include Education Quality Management, Resource Management, Governance, and Management.
The accreditation of schools is sometimes outsourced by the national boards including CBSE. These private institutions have, to the board’s satisfaction, the capability to assess a school in terms of quality of education it imparts.
The agencies that accredit the schools are Quality Council of India (QCI) and National Accreditation Board of Education & Training (NABET).
National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET) provides accreditation to schools, It can be understood as a counterpart of higher education accreditation body NAAC.
The process of accreditation would desirably aim at analyzing the substantive aspects rather than just infrastructure and student-teacher ratio etc. as the CBSE bye-laws are getting to change substantially accreditation mechanism will also be influenced by the changes. As the definition of quality of education and concentration on the elements composing it change, the rules of accreditation change.
CBSE has sought the guidance of the Quality Council of India to structure and operationalize a quality assessment mechanism applicable to all schools affiliated to the CBSE board.
CBSE has tried to develop an independent assessment mechanism to assess schools for accreditation with the help of QCI, but till date, it continues to recruit help from multiple external agencies to form accreditation empaneled committees for assessing the institutions comprehensively.
The significance of accreditation for a school
Accreditation of a school shall signify that the school abides with the standards set by the board and has the resources to maintain the standard of the parameters that signify the quality of education
There have been directives in the past which were rescinded yet their reinforcement cannot be ruled out. One of the episodic directive issued by the CBSE directed every affiliated school to get accredited within three years.
We have specifically discussed hitherto accreditation process and history of accreditation in the context of CBSE and have not dealt with other boards. The reason for it is that the accreditation empaneled committees are formed by ICSE boards too and the agencies which are given the mandate to assess the quality of education are liable to change from year to year. It can be said without a shred of doubt that assessment of the quality of education and accreditation is critical for all the stakeholders including the students. The accreditation score provides the students, teachers, parents, community and educationists etc. the information about the assets and wants of the school in terms of infrastructure, human resource, and performance.
How is the accreditation carried out?
The school applies for accreditation online. The application is accompanied by what is called the School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Scheme (SQAAS) details. The SQAAS details incorporate information regarding students, teachers, qualification of the teachers and the head of the school, state of infrastructure, labs, and library, and sports and games arrangements. In addition to that, documents and a list of attested documentary evidence have to be made available. There exists a Peer Assessment Team (PAT) to evaluate the data provided by the school. The PAT that would decide the substance in the candidature for accreditation. It would visit only those schools which cross the 50 percent threshold in the SQAAS process.
Data-informed by responses to the questionnaires given out to students, teachers and the non-teaching staff besides the parents is also analyzed by PAT.
There have been emphatic suggestions that accreditation of a school must imminently follow affiliation to CBSE. If the school is given the privilege of calling itself a CBSE school it must get accredited too. CBSE were to use School Quality Assessment and Accreditation (SQAA) as its assessment device for assessing the functions of the schools.
What accreditation indicates?
It is believed that the school accreditation decidedly upgrades the quality of the functions of the school thereby bettering the educational outcomes. The obvious benefits notwithstanding, it is not yet mandatory for the schools to be accredited.
The agencies that are empaneled for the accreditation inspection approve a school to be accredited or otherwise by evaluating a set of parameters
Once the school is accredited, it needs to adhere to the accreditation standard and indulge in continual improvement.
An accredited school can be vouched for its quality of education and the school management can consider it as a successful self-evaluation that verifies the propriety of the aspects of management as well as financial sustainability and most importantly, the human resources.