in education is understood in different ways. This activity offers
a framework for consideration of current local and international
understandings of quality in education, for investigation of the
challenges posed for your context and possible means of addressing
The quality of learning is now clearly recognized
as a fundamental factor in achieving universal participation in
education. The sixth goal of the Dakar Framework for Action (2000)
states the need for:
Improving all aspects of the quality of basic education
and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable
learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy
and essential life skills.
The quality of education has thus come to be seen
as directly related to the issue of access to education for all.
UNESCO has identified curriculum as one of the ten dimensions of
quality in education1. While the concept of quality is
understood in different ways, the 2005 Education For All (EFA) Global
Monitoring Report2 identifies three principles that increasingly
influence educational content and processes. They are summarized
as the needs for:
- More relevance;
- Greater equity of access and outcome;
- Proper observance of individual rights.
Relevance is determined by context (global, national
and local circumstances in which the curriculum is developed), and
addresses the needs of learners and the various other stakeholders
involved in what constitutes meaningful learning.
In general terms, curriculum defines what is to be taught and learned.
Curriculum developers should make judgments about curriculum relevance
- The present and future personal lives of students;
- The cultural and social context in which students
live, including respect for traditions, language, religion and
- The society, with a view to promoting internal
stability and cohesion, as well as its contribution to global
- The economy which demands skills and knowledge
that will enhance productivity, prosperity and opportunity;
- A range of urgent global concerns, including
health related issues (such as the spread of HIV and AIDS and
other pandemics), conflict resolution and environmental sustainability.
The EFA goals also implicitly require both:
- The realization of the right to basic education
for all people, and
- Respect for the social and cultural rights of
others through education.
Curriculum developers should be aware that rights-based
approaches to education are increasingly informing how educational
quality is defined and measured. Ensuring gender sensitivity and
responsiveness and respect for minorities in the educational process
are essential components of such approaches.