THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a country like ours where schools are the wall nails on which education hangs, it’s high time the former function in effective ways to bolster the latter. And that is the motive set by the Global Academic Forum (GAF).
“Do you meet international educational standards?” asks Rebecca J Dahl, President of GAF, a non-profit organisation headquartered in England. They work together with a number of global organisations to promote quality education in schools across the world.
Global Academic Rating (GAR) is an international academic quality rating system designed and promoted by GAF. The focus is on developing countries and their systems of education.
“There is a need to revisit the concept of imparting education,” says Rebecca. “The focus has to shift from the teacher to the student. Education has to be student-centric. The rapport between the student and the teacher has to evolve. The students have to feel involved in the educational processes.”
GAR evaluates institutions on seven broad parameters. The schools have to register for this process, where they are set against other schools on a global platform. “There are over 500 columns that the school has to fill. These include questions ranging from classroom education to security and availability of amenities in schools,” says Thomson Philip, national director of programme implementation, GAF. So how is it that schools of different countries that are fundamentally different are put on the same platform and evaluated on similar parameters? “Even though the parameters are similar across countries, they take each economy into consideration and then evaluate,” says Thomson.
It’s only been four months since GAF was launched in India. As part of GAR implementation in India,14 schools were invited to take part in the evaluation process.
Some of the Kerala schools included Assisi Vidyaniketan Public School from Kochi, Devamatha CMI Public School, Thrissur, Navajeevan school, Thiruvananthapuram.
“We make them go through the data collection procedure at first. And then we make a visit with our team to verify their claims. We have one another way of involving the students, parents, management and even neigbouring schools where they share their perception of the school being evaluated. And finally we give them our feedback,” says Thomson.
The most interesting aspect is the schools’ willingness to accept feedback and work on them immediately, says Rebecca. “The courage shown by them to take part in this programme and their willingness to understand the shortcomings of their methods were exemplary,” she says.