Whether or How Far the Management Tools are Applicable in Education?

Whether or How Far the Management Tools are Applicable in Education?

(Part One)
Preamble :
In the recent decades revolutionary changes have taken place in industries and business houses due to the application of Management tools. Most of the management tools have been devised in Japan and after the Second World War. Some of the notable Management Tools are : TQM (Total Quality Management), Six SIGMA, KAIZEN etc. The experts opine that the tools are like basic principles or slogans with flexible nature, such that these can be molded to suit various situations. Some experts believe that these management tools can be applied in higher education sector with positive results. The following news in fact reveals this possibility.

This year an international conference on education under title Canada International Conference on Education (CICE-2012) is going to be held June 18-21 in University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. The Scope, Objective and motivation of one of its workshop has been written as : (quoted)
“Scope : The workshop will provide better understanding of useful tools and techniques that can be applied in higher education to improve quality.

Objective and Motivation : The goal of this workshop is to develop understanding of what quality means in higher education. Different quality concepts and principles such as TQM, ISO 9000, Six Sigma, etc, will be discussed with the challenges associated with using these industrial quality principles to higher education.”

In the above situation the objective of this article will be to examine and judge, whether or how far the management tools are applicable in education. In order to do this, we shall first try to give an idea regarding some of the notable management tools, then we shall discuss the present provisions for ensuring qualities in education, and shall conclude after a brief comparison.

(01) Total Quality Management (TQM) :
Total Quality Management (TQM), devised by Philip B. Crosby, W. Edwards Deming, Armand V. Feigenbaum, Kaoru Ishikawa and Joseph M. Juran is a management approach to long–term success through customer satisfaction.
In TQM, all members of an organization participate in improving processes, products, services and the culture in which they work. An idea about the concept of TQM may be had from Deming’s 14 points mentioned hereunder.
(1) Creating constancy of purpose for improving products and services, (2) Adopting new philosophy, (3) To decrease dependence on inspection to achieve quality, (4) To end the practice of awarding business on price alone; instead, minimize total cost by working with a single supplier, (5) To improve constantly and forever every process for planning, production and service, (6) To arrange training during job, (7) To adopt and organize leadership, (8) To drive out fear, (9) To break down barriers between staff areas, (10) To eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets for the workforce, (11) To eliminate numerical quotas for the workforce and numerical goals for management, (12) To remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship, and eliminate the annual rating or merit system, (13) To organize vigorous program of education and self-improvement for everyone (14) To put everybody in the company to work accomplishing the transformation.

Also the following eight key elements are considered as the root cause of its success.
(a) Ethics, (b) Integrity, (c) Trust, (d) Training, (e) Teamwork, (f) Leadership, (g) Recognition and (h) Communication.

(02) Six sigma (Motorola) :
Motorola Inc of USA introduced six sigma in 1986. Initiating as a statistically-based method to reduce variation in electronic manufacturing processes, it is now considered also as a ‘brand’. In addition to industries, it is said to be used also in local government departments, prisons, hospitals, the armed forces, banks and multi-nationals corporations. It is a registered trademark of Motorola Inc., USA.

There are many definitions of Six Sigma. For example :
According to Motorola : “…Considering it as (i) a metric, (ii) a methodology and (iii) a management system, Six Sigma means all three at the same time.”

According to UK Department for Trade and Industry : Six Sigma is “a data-driven method for achieving near perfect quality. Six Sigma analysis can focus on any element of production or service, and has a strong emphasis on statistical analysis in design, manufacturing and customer-oriented activities.”

As a Metric, six Sigma uses a scale of accepting as low as 3.4 defects per one million opportunities (DPMO). Also as a Methodology, it believes in business improvement through (a) Understanding and managing customer requirements, (b) Aligning key business processes to achieve those requirements, (c) Utilizing rigorous data analysis to minimize variation in those processes, (d) Driving rapid and sustainable improvement to business processes.

(03) Six sigma (General Electric (GE) :
GE introduced Six Sigma in 1995, under Jack Welch. They defined Six Sigma as : – a highly disciplined process that helps to focus on developing and delivering near-perfect products and services, by eliminating defects, where maximum 3.4 defects per million opportunities may be ignored. It believes that what the customers like most is the “Quality”, and dislike most is the “Defect”. For ensuring these two the “Process of production” has to be analyzed. The customers also expect “Variation” for which “Designing” as per customers and choice must be maintained. Finally the operation must remain “Stable” in order to ensure sustainability.

(04) KAIZEN :
Kaizen comes from the Japanese words “kai”, meaning “to correct” and “zen”, meaning “good”. It is used to mean “continuous improvement”. It was created in Japan after the World War II. It is said that when the Western philosophy says, “fix it after it is broken”, the Kaizen philosophy says, “improve it before it is broken, because if we do not move fast others would win”.
Kaizen believes in collecting and incorporating the suggestions of all the employees. Kaizen suggests on making little changes on a regular basis, always to strive for improving productivity, safety and effectiveness while reducing waste. Kaizen includes social activities including every aspect of the personal lives of the employees. Activities like quality circles, automation, suggestion systems, just-in-time delivery, Kanban and 5S are included in Kaizen.
Kaizen also involves setting standards ahead and then continuous striving for achieving that. It utilizes training, materials and supervision to the employees for achieving ever higher standards.
Certification tool- ISO 9001 :
How can an organization prove that it has improved quality ? It is done through certification. And ISO 9001:2008 is the International Standard for Quality Management Systems (QMS) is the organization that issues this certificate. However, ISO 9001 does not directly issue any certificate, on the other hand it issues certificate to the organization that is admired by the country’s dependable organization for certification.

Although commonly referred to as ‘ISO 9000’ certification, the actual standard to which an organization’s quality management system can be certified is ISO 9001:2008. Many countries have formed accreditation bodies to authorize (“accredit”) the certification bodies. The various accreditation bodies have mutual agreements with each other to ensure that certificates issued by one of the Accredited Certification Bodies (CB) are accepted worldwide.
(End of Part One)

(Part Two)
Architecture Department
Ahsanullah University of Science & Technology

What have been narrated above are the management tools and certification authorities in the business and sector. Now let us see the same provisions ion education sector. In Education, the quality management, monitoring and endorsing authorities is the Ministry of Education. The Ministry exercises its authorities through a number of organizations like : University Grants Commission, Education Directorates, Education Boards etc. Also the job of certification is done by the Accreditation Council (that accredits various Programs) and Education Directorates (that accredits institutions).

Quality Improvement in Education :
In Education Sector the improvement of quality depends upon the Improvements of components, sustainability upon Monitoring and proof of improvement, on Certification. The major components of education are four. These are : (01) Teacher, (02) Student, (03) Curriculum of courses and (04) Logistic support, academic environment and infrastructure. Naturally the improvement of qualities in education would mean the improvement of each of them

(i) TEACHER : In the educational institutes including the universities the government has prescribed the qualification and procedure for appointing teachers. In the public universities, in the lowest tier (i.e. Lecturer and in some cases, Assistant Professor) only those having the best results are called for interview. A board of expert members takes the interview, where they judge the ‘speaking and explaining capability’ of the applicant. In the subsequent tiers (i.e. Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor), the candidates are judged on the basis of their experiences, performances and research works as reflected in published papers, and there is no interview. The research papers need to be evaluated by members from home and abroad. This system of selection seems quite all right. The deviations however, arises due to the following reasons :
(i) Many a times the ruling political party interferes in selection process, resulting in inclusion inferior quality teachers.
(ii) Even though ‘secrecy’ is mandatory, some candidates manage the experts in their favor.
(iii) At present many applicants are found to come with fake or doubtful degrees like, on-line degrees, so called ‘degree by research’, non-campus degrees etc. mostly from abroad Even though the public universities have strict system of scrutiny for rejection, it has been reported that some private universities accept them and the save serves the interests of both.

The private universities do not have any unified rules for selection, but they have been advised to formulate those in the light of what are followed in the public universities. However, absence of monitoring results in deviations in some private universities. For this reason, in Bangladesh the teachers of private universities are generally given lesser weight in time of comparison.

Universities are the highest seat of learning. For this reason the university teachers have been assigned the additional duty of producing fresh and advanced reading materials. This has rendered ‘research’ so essential for the teachers. Masters program, access to foreign education and generous research grants are the essential pre-conditions of research. A teacher with inferior academic results can never be the substitute for a good teacher. So, the first criterion of ensuring quality of education is, ‘employment of superior quality teachers’, i.e. those having good results throughout their career.

It is a common notion that if a teacher can attract the students by his deliberation or explanation of issues, then he is a ‘good teacher’. This is not the whole truth. Even though it is true that “teacher’s nice deliberation or explanation can attract the students”, this quality should never be taken as universal. Some subjects (like, Arts, Literature etc.) are of such nature that those can be explained in interesting ways. However, the science and engineering subjects in most cases cannot be made interesting, even though it is possible to explain these in easily-understandable language. Needless to mention that no teacher with inferior academic results will ever be able to explain things in which he himself is in confusion. Quite often the students are found to consider a teacher ‘excellent’, if he
(i) ‘Supplies ready to answer notes’,
(ii) ‘Provides probable questions’ and finally,
(iii) ‘Gives generous grades’.

The spirits of what has been explained above are, (i) the quality of education in any university depends directly upon the quality of the teachers, as reflected in their academic results and (ii) popularity among the students cannot be the criterion of a good teacher.

(ii) STUDENTS : The second factor responsible for the quality of education in the universities is the quality of the students. Supposing there takes place no unfair means in the pre-university public examinations, it may be taken for granted that higher grades indicate superior quality students. However, in Bangladesh there is an exception to this notion. The students using the services of ‘coaching centre’ or many private tutors are in fact worse than what their grades indicate. With their long-time experience the coaching centers forecast probable questions and supply their ‘well written answers’. The grade in Mathematics (inclusive of all mathematical subjects) could have been considered as exception, if the question setters could assure avoidance of repetitions of questions in the examinations. In Bangladesh the teachers of the universities already feel the ill effects of the coaching centers.

In a university it is not possible for the university administration or a teacher to see most of their students to fail. In case the intake of the students is such that most of the students come with lower grades then, in spite of some good students in the class, the concerned teacher will be compelled to :
(i) Simplify or lower down the standard of the course materials,
(ii) Avoid hard and complex topics,
(iii) Adopt easy means of teaching (like, giving notes in ‘ready to answer’ format, assign more grades on class test or assignment etc.) and
(iv) Give generous grades.
In this case, even the better quality students admitted in this university would pass out with good grades, but shallow knowledge. It is obvious that a teacher teaching superior quality students can maintain higher standard of teaching because of their better accepting ability. So, one efficient way of improving the quality of education in any class is to admit students with superior academic results.

In the universities, the higher secondary students are the raw materials. It is known to all that the better is the raw material the better will be the finished product. The university teachers have absolutely no role to play on the quality of these students, because they already have been taught by teachers in schools and colleges. Prior to the implementation of recent reform in education these students were taught in the traditional system introduced long ago by the British rulers. The major problem with the British system was, in case of most of the subjects the students could find the exact answers of the questions in their text books. To make the situation worse, the book sellers manufactured books having “questions and answers”. More efficient system of the same is followed in the coaching carters. As per new Education policy the text Books are being re-written such that the students need to at prepare answers after analyzing the given information. It is hoped that after this policy is implemented, the schools and colleges would be able to produce better quality students.

(iii) CURRICULUM OF COURSES : In the public universities the curriculum of courses are prepared by the group of experts formed under rules and regulations prescribed by BUGC. In doing this job, the committee takes examples from the established universities of the country and from abroad. There are provisions for occasional revisions of the same. Whatever ‘bright’ the curriculum of a foreign university might be, it is not safe for any university to accept any foreign curriculum in exactness, ignoring the physical and socio-cultural background of the country.

The private universities have their own system of preparing curriculum of courses. Since the curriculum of courses of various universities are easily available, some universities endeavor to prepare the “best one” just as camouflage and then to follow the easiest path. What is more important is not the curriculum of courses, but the way in which the courses are taught and how the students are evaluated.

(iv) ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT AND LOGISTICS : Academic environment (campus) and logistics like Library, Laboratory, Teaching aids etc. play crucial role in improving the quality of education. In the recent years the universities are found to depend more and more on internet sources and to place less importance on books and libraries. The following significant difference may be found in between the above two sources :

(a) Internet sources are quite costly than books in libraries, where the same book is used by thousands of students. Even though immense materials may be obtained from internet, most of those are not dependable or of superior standard. Superior quality materials may be available only from the libraries of established universities, which are quite costly for the students of Bangladesh. Since the students get the information in ‘soft form’ it becomes extremely to submit those to the teachers by ‘cut and paste’ method, without even reading the whole text.

(b) Searching books may be more laborious than searching internets. Taking materials from books need taking notes or copy by writing. Both of these are in favor of having in depth knowledge of the subject.

There is basic difference between transfer of information and transfer of knowledge. In case of transfer of information, the quantity of transfer would depend upon the ‘memory’ of the student and the way in which those are transferred. Thus huge information given by the teacher at a rapid speed, or shown by quickly passing slides will not be able to transfer much information, not to say anything about their details.

The case of transfer of knowledge is entirely different. It is not like ‘transfer of materials from one pot to another’. The students need to absorb those by their brains. The way they will be able to reproduce those depends upon how efficiently they absorb (not receive) those. For this purpose, the teacher must neither too fast, nor too slow. He must explain the difficult parts of things patiently preferably in sketches. There are complex topics which are easier to explain with slides. But in a general comparison, teachers’ patiently drawn sketches are absorbed in a much better way that slides. In the recent days, some experts seem to have been carried away from these facts in view of wide publicity in favor of the use of multi-medias.

(End of Part Two)

(Part Three)
Architecture Department
Ahsanullah University of Science & Technology


Whatever one may think from outside, there remains such basic differences between ‘trading-manufacturing’ and ‘education’ that any decision for introducing the management tools in education sector cannot be taken to be an intelligent proposition. In ‘trading-manufacturing’ what the management deals with are, (i) mostly lifeless machines and raw materials and (ii) employees who are bound to serve for them under the conditions for employment. Also, the products they produce are either consumed (in case of consumable products) or used (in case of machines and equipments) by the customers. In case any batch of their production cannot achieve the set standard, the resultant will be two fold :
(i) The consumer / user would suffer,
(ii) The ‘trader-manufacturer’ would suffer from loss or less profit.

In education also there are two major types of components – (i) Living and (ii) Non-living. While curriculum of courses, logistic facilities etc. are non-living, the teachers, students and ancillary staff etc. are the living component, the infrastructural facilities, reading aids and materials etc. are the non-living component. Here the teachers are the employees and the students are the customers. In the ‘trader-manufacturer’ cases, the customers visit, examine and take their decision and leave within a period of several minutes to several weeks. In education the customers will stay throughout the duration of their program. What they purchase here will decide how the young man would pass his future life. Naturally his (and his guardians) bargaining system will be different, and any dissatisfaction on their part may result like erupting volcanoes.

A brief look at the management tools may reveal that, in most of them all the people of the organization need to take part in management by giving suggestions. If the same principle is followed in education, the students may take it as a scope to waste time scheduled for learning. Even though suggestions may be sought from the students in some aspects, the teaching-learning activity should never be based on the students’ suggestions.

It is obvious that as soon as live people are included as major components in any production system, one needs to take great care of their needs, attitude, mood and all other cultural characteristics. In addition to teaching, the educational institutions need to incorporate things as may fit the local climate, culture and physical conditions. Various regions of the world is so different in these aspects that no single universal process or rule may be fruitful for all. What now needs to be considered by the educational institutions are the physical situation of the venue, cultural specialties of the employees and students, special needs of the society, needs and policies adopted by the government of the country etc. No one can be sure that the management tools devised by the experts for the trading-manufacturing organizations would satisfy these conditions.

The universities deal young persons, whom they strive for making fit for shouldering ‘great responsibilities’. Unlike what happens in case of ‘trading-manufacturing’, degradation of any ‘batch of students’ would not be a case of profit or loss, but would result in grave consequences for the country. The young men are going to be the future citizens and leaders of the country. Any degradation, deficiency or mistake in education teaching would make them and their families to suffer, their employers to repent and their country to bear heavy loss.

However, we are aware that not all the graduates need to shoulder equal quantity of responsibilities. For example, deficiencies in the education of the general graduates employed in business-trading-manufacture sector may result in loss of the concerned companies. Things however, are entirely different when the graduates are doctors, engineers or scientists. The target of educating someone was, is and always will be to face the worst, even though in most cases they need not face those.

The worst a doctor may have to do is to take decision alone in case of an unknown and seriously ill patient. Any deficiency in his education may cause human death. An engineer is supposed to do jobs with the knowledge covered in his course of curriculum and his senior is supposed to remain reluctant in this part of the job. Any deficiency in the education of this engineer may result in failure of structures, malfunctioning of machineries etc. resulting in loss of life. The scientists are supposed to go beyond what the ordinary graduates may do and conduct their research jobs. Any deficiency in his education should be considered as total wastage.

The entrepreneurs of business-trading-manufacture are mostly private businessmen, where as those of education are the governments. After establishment of their companies the private owners have to think of managing things with for ‘optimization of profit’ with ‘whatever they have’. Similarly the public entrepreneurs of education also have to ensure the optimization of qualities of the graduates. In any country it can be done by establishing ‘only those types and numbers of educational institutions which will be able to achieve this goal’. For a country there is no need to establish the type and number of institutions, through which they cannot ensure standard education. While this is one way of optimization in education sector, the other important way is to select students for various fields of education on the basis of their qualities, as reflected in academic records. The task of “improving the quality of education” should be taken up after these two basic jobs are done.

Any experienced university teacher would agree that not one, but at least three different tools will be required for improving the qualities of the three major tiers of education. These tiers are : (i) Science, (ii) Medical-Engineering and (iii) Business-General. In addition to the choice of the students, the government should impose an intelligent decision to allow the students to get admission on the basis of their academic performances in the subjects under each of the above tiers.

Again, the subjects taught in the Science, Medical and Engineering educations usually fall under the following three major categories : (i) General subjects, (ii) Subjects for the profession and (iii) Laboratory/workshop/direct supervision.

Quite often the intensity of care taken by the teachers in education is expressed in terms of “teacher : student ratio”. The conventional system determining teacher student ratio, however, cannot express the situation prevailing in the professional and science-engineering-medical tier of education. In this tier there are three types of teachers. When placed in order of importance they are : (i) Teachers of professional subjects, (ii) Demonstrators or Lab Assistants and (iii) Teachers of general subjects. So, while expressing the teacher student ration it should expressed as – No. of students for each teacher of subject (i), that for subject (ii) and that for subject (iii).

In order to explain the difference between the two let us suppose, in any university with 2700 students there are each 80 professional teachers, 70 demonstrator/Lab. Assistants and 30 general teachers. In the conventional system it will be expressed as –
Teacher : Student ratio = (80 + 70 + 30) : 2700, or 180 : 2700 or 1 : 15.

In our proposed system it will be :
No. of teachers in subject type 01 / that in Type 02 / that in type 03 : No. of students.
Or, 80 / 70 / 30 : 2700.
That means the teacher student ratio in the 3 types of subjects are : 1:34, 1:39 and 1:90.
In short it may be expressed as 1: 34/39/90.

Please notice the great difference that in the traditional system we become satisfied with the ratio: 1:15. After realizing this important phenomenon, the authorities monitoring and controlling education in the universities may come forward to recommend number of teachers for each subject.

The reality in the professional programs is, here the number teachers of professional subjects and demonstrators (in case of subject like Architecture, the Design teachers act like demonstrators) are more important than that of the general teachers. But when all the teachers are given equal importance and the ratio is calculated to find that that “the university has got 1 teacher for every 15 students”, it seems that the university is quite strong in point of number of teacher. But when calculated in the proposed way, it will be seen that the university has got :
(i) Only 01 teacher in professional subjects for each 34 students,
(ii) Only 01 demonstrator (design teacher in Architecture) each 39 students and
(iii) Only 01 teacher in general subjects for each 90 students.

At times quite thought-provoking phenomenon takes place in teaching. We present hereunder such a phenomenon. The teachers of a standard university found wide scope of part-time jobs in a number of substandard universities. One departmental head of the standard university was asked about its affect on their education. The head replied something like, ‘earlier my teachers used to rush to the class and give lectures. Since they visit those universities where, as per their rule, they need to give class notes to the students. Now they use the same notes for our students and I believe, our students become more benefitted’. It may be mentioned that as per rule, the teachers of the standard university used to :
(a) Explain only the difficult topics in easy language,
(b) Did not give any class note and
(c) Did not teach the entire course in the class, such that the students were in need of consulting books in order to learn the topics.

Any system that creates scope for the students to avoid books can never be a good one.
(End of Part Three)

(Part Four)
Architecture Department
Ahsanullah University of Science & Technology

It may safely be concluded that various “management tools for quality control may be taught in the university to the students reading in management, business, manufacture etc. However this also should be done with care and attention. In order to enforce our statement we mention hereunder some of the “14 points of Deming” with our comments.

(1) Creating constancy of purpose for improving products and services Not applicable in Education
(2) Adopting new philosophy May be yes, but it will be entirely different from what may be appropriate in business / manufacturing organizations.
(3) To decrease dependence on inspection to achieve quality Not applicable in Education
(4) To end the practice of awarding business on price alone; instead, minimize total cost by working with a single supplier, The target here is minimizing cost of procurement. But the principle sounds like a decision finalized for a particular company in particular contexts. The decision in any such situation should be based on a number of factors like : (i) Ancillary cost for procurement in the competitive market, (ii) Amount involved in this ‘procurement deal’, (iii) Attitude of the suppliers towards monopoly, (iv) Government control over the suppliers’ activities etc.

(5) To improve constantly and forever every process for planning, production and service Not applicable in all aspects of Education
(6) To arrange training during job Not applicable in Education
(7) To adopt and organize leadership Could be done among the teachers. But there the seniors are given the scope to lead.
(8) To drive out fear Bear no meaning. Fearless students may be dangerous.
(9) To break down barriers between staff areas Bear little meaning
(10) To eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets for the workforce Not applicable in Education
(11) To eliminate numerical quotas for the workforce and numerical goals for management, Not applicable in Education
(12) To remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship, and eliminate the annual rating or merit system, Not applicable in Education
(13) To organize vigorous program of education and self-improvement for everyone Employment may not be the headache of the educational institution.
(14) To put everybody in the company to work accomplishing the transformation May be applied in Education
In the universities, the students should mostly be taught the ‘logic’ behind arriving at any decision. They are not employees, who may be ready to listen whatever the teachers would say. Rather they would ask the reasons and the teachers are liable to answer to their queries. So, the materials the teachers would teach in the class must have logical base, and those must not be like advice, the employers use for their employees.

Reference : CICE-2012 conference : http://www.ciceducation.org/Workshops.html.

(End of concluding part)

Architecture Department
Ahsanullah University of Science & Technology

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