U p g r a d i n g t h e q u a l i t y o f s c h o o l e d u c a t i o n (Isao Amagi)

The modern school education systems developed by nation-states have greatly
contributed to shaping not only individuals but also society as a whole. For that very
reason, they are apt to be subjected both to public criticism and to undue demands as
society evolves.
Every country has to engage in educational reform from time to time in terms of
teaching, content and management of school education. Yet, however extensively the
system may be reformed, the present basic functions of school education are likely to
survive in the coming century and the key words for their survival might be the
‘quality’ and ‘relevance’ of school education.
Educational policy should address the question of the quality of school education
from the following three aspects:
1. Upgrading the quality of teachers, through the adoption of the following policies
and measures:
• The level of pre-service education of teachers, which is carried out at secondaryschool
level in some countries, should be raised to higher education level, as in the
case of many industrially developed countries, which have created teachers’
colleges and universities. In some of those countries, graduate courses are offered
in teacher education.
• Teachers’ certificates should indicate whether they are for primary school,
secondary school, technical or vocational education, teaching the handicapped
etc., according to the pre-service education.
• Recruitment and placement of teachers should reflect an equitable balance
between the various subject-areas, experienced and less-experienced teachers,
urban and rural areas, etc.
• In-service training is strongly recommended as lifelong education of all those
engaged in the teaching profession to upgrade teaching capacities both in theory
and practice. Curriculum development and related matters (see (2) below) should be
taken into account in the in-service training of teachers.
• Working conditions of teachers – such as class size, working hours/days and
supporting facilities – should be considered.
• Teachers’ salaries should be high enough to attract promising young people to
the teaching profession and a reasonable balance achieved between their salaries and
those of other civil servants.
The formulation of a comprehensive teacher policy, combined with abovementioned
measures, should be a matter of prime concern to the authorities
concerned.
2. The design and development of the curriculum and related matters should be
carried out by the authorities and professional groups concerned. The school
curriculum reflects the contents of teacher-training courses.
Teaching methods, textbooks, teaching materials and aids should be developed at
the same time as the curriculum. In particular, computers and other information media
should be utilized to enhance the process both of teaching and learning.
Academic research achievements in natural and social sciences, and humanities
should be taken into account in curriculum development. The important role of
experimental studies, and experience of working and living with nature, should also be
considered in the development of teaching and learning methods.
3. The improvement of school management is the third area in which school
education can be upgraded. School is a fundamental educational establishment where
practical educational activities are carried out systematically. Although in most cases
teachers work alone in classrooms, they are members of a group which works
together to develop what could be called a ‘school culture’. We can hardly expect
high-quality school education without good leadership on the part of the
headmaster and active co-operation of teachers in school management.
Finally, improving the quality of school education considered from the three
aspects mentioned above should be a fundamental policy issue in all countries,
whatever their circumstances, in the coming century.

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