While governments and communities across the globe are faced with the challenge
of providing their citizens with good-quality education, there is lack of consensus on
how education quality should be defined. Whereas a great deal has been written
about the human capital and human rights approaches, which currently dominate
the debate, the potential value of the capabilities approach to the field of education
quality policy and practice is yet to be fully explored. This article aims to advance
discussions on education quality, through critical engagement with discourses on the
capabilities approach and its implications for education quality thinking, and offer
an example of what implementation of this approach might mean in a South African
teacher education context. The article outlines the core concepts underpinning the
capabilities approach to education quality against the background of critiques of
the human capital and human rights approaches. It then critically explores what a
capabilities approach has to offer to education quality thinking, and describes how
these concepts and principles are being interpreted within the new Rhodes B.Ed.
(Foundation Phase) programme, currently being developed.