Conversation with Experts - Dr. Harish Chaudhary, IIT-Delhi
1. You are trained in TQM. Does or should TQM also apply to school teachers and principals?
YES. TQM as a philosophy is as applicable to schools as to any other activity. The basis of TQM is process control rather than the quality assessment of the finished product. Evaluating the finished product (say, board exams) is a post-mortem with little or no feedback/suggestions for improvement. If we keep on improving and perfecting the teaching-learning process, the outcomes are bound to improve.
2. What is just that one thing related to behavior which Indian school teachers and/ or principals have to seriously work on?
The principals need to pro-actively reduce the power-distance between themselves and the teachers. They must have an open door policy with the teachers, have their cup of tea in the staff room and empower teachers. The teachers must interact more with the parents and work as a team with the parents for the child's welfare.
3. You can do substantial research on values and quality in education. What have you found - does Indian education system qualify on one or both by any means?
It would be erroneous to generalize. Whereas we may see the Indian education system as a whole in terms of legal structures, India is a very, very diverse nation. There is a huge rural-urban divide, there is a huge chasm between the haves and the have -nots, so perhaps it would be appropriate to see India in segments. The educational objectives of each of these segments would significantly differ from each other.
Perhaps, the most important segment from a nation building perspective is the set of schools that cater to the 'aspiring middle class', typically the mid-range English medium private schools. My understanding of the schooling system is also largely limited to these schools. In general, there is an intent to provide quality education as well as inculcate values in children, but they are often caught in the processes, curriculum and administrative issues. There is a crying need to convert the intention into practices and focus on quality and values.
4. What does the success of a school largely depend on and how do we measure success in the first place?
The success of the school depends on the school principal. The ability of the principal to enrol the management, have a vision, set goals, inspire teachers and involve the parents determines the school's success. The short term measure of the success of a school is the degree of happiness and achievement of the children. The long term measure is alumni performance.
5. Many parents complain that Indian school education system has turned abusive. Do you agree?
No. I do not agree with this statement. Such parents need to put more faith in the teachers.
6. How much should parental involvement in schools be or not be?
Parents must be involved in the school system. Every parent wants their child to succeed and the school must acknowledge their intent. We must differentiate between involvement and interference.
7. Who in your opinion is a good student, a good teacher and a good principal?
A good student is one who disagrees with the teacher. A good teacher is one who permits disagreement in the class and a good principal is one who is sensitive to the child, teacher and parents.