The quality management system (QMS), as an intricate of interacting elements, is a fundamental property of higher education and is fluid and very complex in nature. With this in mind, this chapter explores the symbiotic relationship between the notions of QMS and open and distance learning (ODL). Our thesis is that the notion of QMS is not value-free. Yet, it is a fundamental pillar of higher education institutions and commercial organizations. Among other things, it shall be argued that (1) constructs of Being and Becoming are the hidden epistemological and ontological dimensions of QMS and (2) QMS is a carrier of ideology. And to borrow from Michel Foucault, it shall be postulated that QMS perpetuates docile bodies. As such, this work shall draw on the works of Martin Heidegger and Louis Althusser.
Part of the book: Quality Management Systems
The University of South Africa (UNISA) is the largest open distance e-learning (ODeL) university in the continent of Africa, with a student headcount more than 300,000. Over two decades after the transition from apartheid to democracy, vast inequalities across race, class, gender and socio-economic status persist in South Africa, with the majority of the African people being the most affected. Demographically, the African people constitute about 80.8% of the country’s total population, compared to whites, who constitute a meagre 8.8%, yet African households carry the highest burden of poverty, living way below the official poverty line of $1.90/day as determined by the World Bank and other international agencies. This chapter explores these inequalities and ponders on the role of e-learning for this poorest section of society in a country where modern technological devises in the form of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and access to the Internet are perceived to be ubiquitous. South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) commits to “an expansion of open and distance education and the establishment of more ‘satellite’ premises where universities or colleges provide classes at places and times convenient to students (including in rural areas)”. This chapter also explores the role of UNISA in the provision of distance learning through structured and sustainable e-learning.
Part of the book: Trends in E-learning