Increasing the quality and capacity of education: the challenge for the 21st century
Article first published online: 14 DEC 2010
© Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2010
Volume 45, Issue 1, pages 81–86, January 2011
How to Cite
Norcini, J. J. and Banda, S. S. (2011), Increasing the quality and capacity of education: the challenge for the 21st century. Medical Education, 45: 81–86. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2010.03738.x
- Issue published online: 14 DEC 2010
- Article first published online: 14 DEC 2010
- Received 6 January 2010; editorial comments to authors 9 March 2010; accepted for publication 1 April 2010
Medical Education 2011: 45: 81–86
Context Abraham Flexner’s 1910 report to the Carnegie Foundation was a successful attempt to improve the quality of health care by reforming the education of health care providers. It was accompanied by a significant reduction in the number of medical schools and an increase in the quality of those schools that remained. Although the report’s focus on quality was laudable and appropriate to the times, we now face a significant shortage and maldistribution of health care workers, particularly in countries with the highest burden of disease. Hence, we see the challenges for the 21st century to involve increasing both capacity and quality.
Discussion In our view, these two goals can be achieved through three research-driven educational reforms. Firstly, many educational methodologies are retained based on tradition and new methods are adopted based on fashion. Educational research must become the basis for educational practice. Secondly, educational methodology is often focused on improving quality and does not consider resource utilisation, which reduces its relevance and utility. Educational research must focus on quality and efficiency. Thirdly, one form of educational quality control is provided by accreditation processes. Some of these processes are so prescriptive that they are a barrier to improvement and for none is there evidence of effectiveness. Accreditation processes should be based on data about what is effective and efficient.
Conclusions Just as Flexner argued for a scientific basis in the practice of medicine, we argue for a scientific basis in the practice of education. In our view, this is the way to meet the challenges of the 21st century.