The first step in this direction is to develop a vision and mission for quality emphasizes the fulfillment of students’ needs, community involvement in quality improvement programme and continuous improvement towards excellence in educational services and educational ‘products’. Very often personnel in an institution are not aware of who their ‘customers’ are. For an educational institution, its primary customer is the student. For a school, the customers include institutions of higher learning, industries and institutions offering vocational courses. For a college, customers include post-graduate departments, professional colleges and the economy.
Besides, another important customer of an institution is the larger society. Thus, any programme aimed at improving the quality of educational products and services should attempt to satisfy the needs of its customers. There are instances when lecturers teaching in technical institutions complain that school leavers are good at rote learning but are unable to apply theoretical knowledge creatively to practical application;. If we look at such remarks within the context of Juran’s definition of quality as ‘fitness for use’, we may say that schools are unable to produce outputs that appropriately satisfy the requirements of their customers. Moreover, educational institutions have a tendency to measure their quality in terms of students’ academic achievement. The assumption is that if the results of an institution are improving, its quality must be good. We overlook in such instances that the functions of an institution are aimed at all-round development of an individual and not just his/her intellectual development.
Besides, the academic achievement is not a competent measure of educational quality since it depends on many other factors such as students’ innate intelligence, study habits, motivation, parental socio-economic status and home environment. Thus, educationists need to identify relevant indicators of educational quality and understand the requirements of data collection and analysis so as to measure educational quality in a valid and reliable manner. Arcaro (1997) has described a model for total quality schools wherein the criteria of a Total Quality School are depicted as “the pillars of quality” for education.
Though this model is initially described for schools, it is equally valid for colleges. According to him, the pillars of quality are “essential ingredients for every successful quality initiative. The pillars of quality are universal. They can be applied to every organization in education, from classroom activities to building maintenance.” These pillars of quality as described and presented by Arcaro are as follows: This model gives equal importance to all the five pillars of quality and asserts that unless all the five pillars are present in an educational system, Total Quality status cannot be attained.
TQM necessitates the creation of an environment which facilitates quality improvement and initiative.