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Overdose of check and balance

There has been much talk on quality management and assurance and the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) to validate courses offered by the private sector. Sometimes too much check and balance can cause much stress and frustration in an organisation.

The 27 Teacher Training Institutes (TTIs) in the country which are primarily responsible for the training and graduation of primary school teachers in their various disciplines go through a very comprehensive and stringent quality control and standard requirement process through the MS ISO 9001, MQA and Standards and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia (Sirim).

All these three quality control organisations conduct regular and systematic checks and balances on the management and quality of the processes and services of the TTIs in the country.

Each of these three organisations have various sets of forms and documents and requirements that need to be completed, filed and documented to be in compliance with their respective standards and quality control.

This has brought about much redundant and excessive paperwork in TTIs and robbed lecturers of quality teaching time.

The MS ISO focuses on the process approach of inter related activities within the management that transforms inputs into outputs.

The MQA is the standard accreditation body which ensures that the programmes and degrees offered by the educational institutions are quality assured.

The MQA helps the higher education providers to achieve the accreditation by enhancing the standard and quality of programmes offered through a distinct process on the learning outcomes of the student achievements and competencies at the end of a period of study.

Sirim on the other hand is a service provider of institutional infrastructure for the Government which ensures standardisation and quality of products and services.

The lecturers from the 27 TTIs in the country are kept on their toes filling and completing the various forms and documents and filing them in the respective folders throughout the year coping and complying with these three check and balance mechanisms which operate every other semester or year.

The atmosphere in the TTIs is hectic and stressful when a particular quality control organisation comes to check the institute. All hell will break loose and everyone will be running around like zombies with forms, documents and folders prior to their coming.

The quality service providers usually conduct three or four days check at the institute during which time the whole institute comes to a standstill. Files, folders and documents are heaped in a particular room for the quality personnel to check.

At the end of the session, a report is presented on the quality management of the institute or an accreditation is awarded.

If there is a non-compliance of a standard process then they are given demerit points. At no point are lecturers observed at the lecture halls during the audit process.

Though the three quality control organisations are necessary for quality control, however their implementation leaves much to be desired.

Merely checking documents, forms, files and folders of lecturers does not enhance or improve the quality of learning and teaching in the TTIs.

A lecturer may be able to submit all the related forms and documents but that does not mean that the system is perfect.

Lecturers are like teachers - performers in the class and essentially that is their core duty.

To improve and monitor the quality of the process and management of TTIs, the quality service providers should observe lecturers in the lecture room instead of looking into their files and folders.

Samuel Yesuiah Seremban The STAR Home Opinion Letters March 28, 2014

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