The pressure to catch up with the rest of the world puts developing countries in another dilemma. Challenges in health, natural resource exploitation, infrastructure and many more typically associated with developing countries, propelled them into setting up medical, engineering and natural sciences schools all of which require expensive laboratory and experimental facilities, and a high level of sustained quality of teaching, learning and experimentation, at a time when these countries cannot afford to spend money on these.
Idrus (1999; 2001, 2002a) discussed quality in higher education in Indonesia and the challenges that it faces in hauling itself into the new millennium. While quality is imperative, priorities must be put right to support such a move. It was argued that specific targets on a step-by-step method in bringing the whole population into the right education be agreed first. The initial short-term plan should be practical education/training to link it to jobs and concentrates on increasing the percentage of the workforce with education better than primary school while maintaining the practicality of the short term plan. The second or medium term plan concentrates on increasing some specialization of some citizens but without losing the emphasis of the short-term plan. The third or long term plan, like any educational plan elsewhere, should concentrate on educating the citizenry to creating knowledge. Quality is applied at each stage of this plan.
Quality priorities in developing countries
The challenges facing developing countries in terms of education can be summarized into:
N IDRUS TRANSFORMING QUALITY FOR DEVELOPMENT KEYNOTE PAPER 7QHES, 29-31 OCTOBER 2002, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA