Towards Quality and Equality: Distance Education Developments in the Asia/Pacific Region
One of the most significant distance education developments within the Pacific region in recent years has been the diminishing quality and increasing inequality created by ad hoc competition. Four views of quality are relevant: (1) quality has no existence as an absolute, it is inseparable from context, always relative; (2) indicators for quality measurement can have no inherent or reliable meaning independent of context, including socio-economic, political, and other factors; (3) indicators tend to focus on cause/effect data, to isolate parts of what is ultimately not so much a thing as it is a set of relationships; (4) value-neutral approaches to quality are ultimately invalid. Whether recognized or not, connections exist between the regional and national endeavors of Pacific Island states and New Zealand and Australia as Pacific Rim countries. Competition can be detrimental to both educational health and quality. Clients with few resources do not always have the freedom to choose what they see as good. Through aid-assisted program delivery and multiple scholarship award schemes, Pacific Rim countries are undermining their postsecondary institutions. The University of the South Pacific and other local institutions cannot compete equally against externally funded packages; their long-term viability on is endangered. The region has infinite potential for strengthened and new developments in distance education. Institutions and governments must evaluate distance education's quality, clients, and social and economic consequences. (YLB)
Matthewson, C. Towards Quality and Equality: Distance Education Developments in the Asia/Pacific Region.