Excellence in education: the long road to success

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Achieving and maintaining excellence is surely the goal of every educator worldwide, but how do we define excellence and can it ever really be attained? We have been speaking to Dr Catherine Q Castañeda, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Adamson University about this and discussed the challenges, the opportunities and the role that technology can play in this quest for excellence.

How do you measure excellence?

Naturally the first question when having this discussion might be “how do you measure excellence”? It may mean different things to different people and indeed to different countries. According to Dr Castañeda excellence can be measured in the following ways:

  • Do the courses meet industry needs?
  • Do students enter the workplace with the necessary skills?
  • Are schools and universities responding to meet the development needs of the country?
  • Do the courses enable students to become innovative and critical thinkers?
  • Does the system attract academically superior faculty and produce high performing students?

What are the challenges currently being faced?

Of course the answers to many of these questions are subjective, but having a system which is continuously being evaluated and improved is the key to achieving excellence. The Philippine education system is undergoing a period of change following the introduction of the mandatory K-12 basic education system this year. Dr Castañeda has highlighted a number of key areas which are challenging the road to excellence

  • Full and effective K-12 implementation nationwide
  • Efficient training and retraining of educators in response to the requirement for outcomes based education and the new curriculum
  • Educational success despite national problems especially leadership and political concerns, climate and weather disturbances and social problems tied up with migration issues, and vary basic problems of urban-rural movements, including traffic problems in most cities.
  • Promotion and encouragement of outputs in all colleges and universities
  • Preparation of Philippine schools for ASEAN integration

Where there are challenges there are also opportunities

Despite the challenges being faced there are opportunities available and encouragingly they come from many different sources. Dr Castañeda has suggested that support in the following areas would have a significant impact:

  • Adherence to CHED movies on quality assurance like typology and outcomes-based education
  • Technical expertise of developed countries shared with universities and “Balik-Scientist” programs of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)
  • Provision of professional chairs in good universities
  • Research incentives initiated by multi-national companies for science, technology, and engineering fields
  • Philanthropic assistance/grants
  • Big brother-small brother relationship among HEIs locally (academically good schools helping out poor schools through mentoring, sharing of faculty, sharing of library resources, sharing of equipment that are very expensive)

The role of technology

The role that technology is playing and will play in the future should not be played down. Despite challenging connectivity issues, technology is quickly becoming a classroom staple, the benefits of which cannot be underestimated:

  • Technology promotes a wider coverage/reach of targeted users
  • Technology hastens “transfer” and sharing of good projects
  • Technology hastens international or global efforts at disseminating best practices
  • Technology hastens educational efforts and projects that can promote excellent thrusts

Dr Catherine Castañeda will be joining us at EduTECH Philippines where she be speaking about “an ecosystem approach to establish excellence in education” with fellow educators. Don’t miss this opportunity to contribute to the discussion.

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