This paper reviews a select body of literature that focuses on the role of teachers, schools, and communities at the local level in developing quality education programmes in less-developed countries. Three recent trends form the basis of the literature review: quality versus quantity issues; decentralising education; and recognising the key role of teachers in promoting the quality of student learning.
The literature review finds a number of features important to the quality of education:
locally defined quality: at the school and community level, not just at the district and national level. Improving education quality needs to focus on schools and teachers, supported by strong supervision, flexible policies, efficient administration and community involvement, thus linking education quality to the concept of decentralisation
teachers: if teachers are to become reflective practitioners and users of active teaching and learning methods they must participate in professional development programmes that advocate and use these same models
content and relevance of curriculum: given the current situation of rapidly declining quality, the question of how much students are learning is critical. The data suggests that in many countries children are not acquiring even basic skills
equity: despite national policies on gender equity, the involvement of local communities is essential in order to keep girls in school and that the perceived quality of education is more important to girls' retention rates than to that of boys
improved infrastructure: more textbooks or better trained teachers will lead only to limited quality improvements.
The review concludes that it is at the school level where all inputs come together and interact. Therefore, understanding what is happening in schools and in classrooms is a necessary precondition for addressing quality and developing effective quality improvement strategies. [adapted from author]