The teaching-learning process has gained all time importance in the changing educational scenario, though it is the basis of the education system since time immemorial. The second criterion of the assessment parameters by NAAC ‘Teaching-Learning and Evaluation’ carries the highest weightage which brings forth its importance to the fore once more. The student is the chief stakeholder in the whole process of teaching and learning. This paper attempts to take a sneak peek at the definition of a stakeholder and also tries to trace the difference between the direct and indirect stakeholders in an institution.
NAAC is an autonomous body of UGC formed to facilitate the volunteering institutions in assessing their performance through set parameters through introspection. It endeavors to make quality the defining element of higher education in India through a combination of self and external quality evaluation, promotion and sustenance initiatives. Out of the seven criteria Teaching-Learning and Evaluation is the second one to evaluate the same. This criterion aims to stimulate the academic environment for promotion of quality of teaching-learning and research in higher education and to encourage self-evaluation, accountability, autonomy, innovation, etc. It provides space for participation to know its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities through an informed review process. The role of stakeholders in managing and improving it plays a significant part in the long run.
Who then is a stakeholder? The Glossary of Education Reform defines a stakeholder in education as one who has an interest or who has invested in the welfare and success of an institution. They are the students, faculty members, administrators, alumni, parents, the Government, the community and the entities both public and private.
The stakeholders can be classified as internal and external stakeholders. The direct stakeholders comprise of teachers, both working and superannuated; the students— current and alumni; the parents, and the non-teaching staff. All the students who belong to the ‘catchment domain’, the industries, the service sector, other educational establishments, the Government, etc., that may depend on the institution for the supply of educated human resources, are all indirect stakeholders.
An educational institution becomes a center of excellence only through the collective and focused efforts of all the stakeholders. An effort is made to highlight the main stakeholders who shoulder the responsibility to create a quality culture in the development of an institution.
The students are the main stakeholders as they are the chief beneficiaries of an institution. In other words, students are the primary reason for the existence of an institution. In the past, the student was seen as the receiver of knowledge as his/her participation was not active enough in the teaching-learning process. A student was considered a consumer who wanted the product, i.e. the knowledge. This point of view brings negative rave reviews, as the students are looked upon as the customers, who in turn will treat the institution with little or no interest. In fact, it is also likely that if their expectations are not met, they are bound to take their business elsewhere, that is, they will shift to any other institution which will fulfill their expectations and requirements. Another view of the student is not just as a participant but as a partner in the teaching-learning process. They must participate in the co-curricular and extra-curricular activities in order to ensure holistic development of their personality. Their timely and sincere feedback is very important for the improvement of the teaching-learning process and for making it student-centric. It is therefore necessary to impress upon the students the idea of them being the participants and not mere passive recipients. When they feel that they are an integral part of the system, a sense of belongingness, ownership and pride will automatically follow, and will eventually lead to quality enhancement in the institution.
Teachers play a vital role in the lives of the students in their classrooms. They are best known for the role of educating the students that are placed in their care. Beyond that, teachers serve many other roles too. They set the tone of their classrooms, build a warm and endearing environment, mentor and nurture the students, become role models and listen and look for the signs of trouble and also diffuse it tactfully. They have clear objectives with a sense of purpose and know when to listen and adapt. Successful educators take time to reflect on their methods, their delivery and the way they connect with their students. The characteristics of teachers are different from other professionals because teachers serve as facilitators and not mere preachers. In the present scenario, importance of the roles of the teachers as the catalyst agent has become more critical. Hence, it is imperative on the part of the teachers that they update their knowledge and skills and be aware of the latest development in the field.
The Principal plays a key role in the delivery of quality instruction. The Principals are the main facilitators to improve teaching and learning. The role of a Principal is extremely fluid, being shaped by a diverse set of concerns and values. In a recent research done by Wallace Foundation, “A particularly noteworthy finding is the empirical link between school leadership and improved student achievement.” Principals have to play multiple roles of disciplinarians, public relation experts and more importantly serve as a bridge between students and teachers. Reversing the damage done by a poor Principal can take ages to repair. The Principal cultivates leadership in others so that teachers and other adults assume their part in realizing their goals. His role becomes crucial when there is involvement of parents and parental associations in the institution. The Principal with his vast experience can be a great source of strength and support to his staff and students as well.
The Management is committed to the cause of imparting quality education to different segments of students irrespective of caste, creed and religion. More than the mere academic progress which can be achieved with expert coaching, the acquisition of self-confidence and personality strength with the help of a philanthropic and generous management, a committed and a caring teaching management, a committed and caring community and the support systems have created a new generation of outstanding individuals in many walks of life. The management makes sincere efforts to achieve the goal of integrated development of critical ability, work ethics and personality. It believes in the principle of “No business in charity” and takes keen interest in involving industrial units in institutional development. The chairman of the trust is a great visionary and a believer in maintaining the sanctity of education. The management should be progressive, quality conscious and one who works with a sense of accountability. The vision, goals and objectives of the institution and the altruistic philosophy of management have contributed to the development of generations of youth.
Parents have very high expectations about their children’s education. The result of a study published in The Times of India shows that the most important goal that Indian parents have for their children is that they build successful careers in their adult life. Since the success of the student in all facets of life is equally important for the reputation of an institution, the parents can collaborate with the other stakeholders to improve the quality of the teaching-learning process. Parents who wish to contribute to the growth of the institution can volunteer their time and thereby aid in enriching the students’ learning experience. This can be made use of by providing platform like Parent-teachers meeting, a regular feature of all institutions now, where suggestions, opinions, concerns and feedback are exchanged. Their genuine concern in the welfare of the student can be of great strength and motivation for any institution.
Today, quality of the bond with the Alumni is an important part of the institution’s advancement activities for many reasons. Alumni are an institution’s most loyal supporters. They take their knowledge to their hometowns and to the places they choose to settle down in. They are the national and international ambassadors of an institution. Moreover, they are fund raising prospects too. This explains the importance of the Alumni associations. In the past, alumni relations or engagements tended to be treated as a stand along activity divorced from fund raising and other advanced activities. Indeed some alumni associations were entirely independent of their parental institutions, and whilst their members interacted with each other, they had very little interaction with the institution. The alumni are a great treasure to an institution provided their potential is recognized and used for the development of the institution in a conscious and well planned manner. They are not merely fund raisers but play a host of roles with their expertise, experience, networking, skill and end up being role models for the young generation. It remains the duty of the administration to see how the loyalty and affection of the alumni can be utilized for the betterment of the institution.
The involvement of the community can improve communication and understanding of the needs and the way of working of an institution. It also brings in the perspectives, experience and expertise of participating community members who can propose reforms, strategies that will lead to quality enhancement and attain a place in their hearts as well. The role of the Government in ensuring adequate funding and policy support cannot be over emphasized. The indirect stakeholders like the local industries can also influence the teaching-learning process. A number of institutions offer short term courses keeping in mind the requirements of the local employers. Well planned and a visionary thought can lead to interactions between the University and the leading institution located in the particular region can also help in the skill development of the students. When all the direct and indirect stakeholders come together, students are encouraged to take learning more seriously. This involvement and collaboration in all aspects right from the admission process to curriculum designing to its proper implementation will help to address several problems like increase in drop-out rates, unskilled students, etc.
If the nation has to progress, it needs a strong and skilled workforce. Quality higher education is directly connected with the students, who after all are the primary stakeholders as well as the direct beneficiaries of all quality measures in the education process.
- A Decade of Dedication to Quality Assurance-NAAC-www.naac.gov.in
- Bruner J: The Process of Education. Cambridge, Harvard University Press. 1996. Print.
- Wallace Foundation: The School Principal as the Leader: Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning. 2011. Print.