Key elements of quality
1) The teacher and teaching methods
The teacher is perhaps the most important factor in the quality of education. Is he/she a trained teacher? Personally suited? Does he/she use teaching methods that permit the pupils to participate actively? Do the teaching methods even out the different starting points of the students, including gender?
Has the teacher access to the teaching material needed to satisfy the requirements of the curriculum? Is the teacher present in the classroom when he/she is supposed to be?
Teachers who cannot survive on their wages will become less motivated and have frequent absences. If it takes them two to three hours to get to school, they will have less time for preparation.
2) Educational content
Are the curriculum and the teaching material relevant? Are basic literacy and numeracy skills sufficiently emphasized?
Does the curriculum also highlight basic skills such as hygiene, nutrition, knowledge about HIV/AIDS, conflict work, gender equality or other important national and international issues?
3) Learning environment
Is the learning environment healthy, secure, protective, inspiring and adapted for both girls and boys? Is there an inclusive learning environment also for minorities or pupils with disabilities? Do the pupils learn to respect each other and the surrounding natural environment?
Do the teachers cooperate to ensure a sound learning environment? Do they punish the pupils? Are parents and the surrounding community included so as to ensure that the school is a welcoming place to be?
4) School management
Is the school well run? Does it adhere to national guidelines? Is the school day well organized? Is the administration of the school transparent so that everyone can see how funding and other resources are deployed?
Do teachers have clear parameters for how they should teach and treat pupils and (female) colleagues? Do headteachers and the school board treat teachers with respect?
5) Preconditions for pupils
What experiences do pupils bring with them to school? Has the pupil been exposed to special challenges such as natural disasters, abuse, child labour or AIDS? Has the pupil grown up in an environment where girls and boys have equal opportunities?
How dissimilar is the language used at school to the one spoken at home? Are pupils hungry when they arrive at school? Do any suffer from chronic diseases? Do they have a long way to school and what is this like?
6) Funding and organization
Funding and organization are two important requisites for all six key elements and they are mainly a national responsibility. A school that is not granted adequate funding and has no clear guidelines will not be able to ensure quality.
However, each individual school must administer its own resources and organize the work in the best possible way on its own terms.