Defining Best Practice: Contextual Relevance in the Caribbean Keynote Paper – Conference, "Institutionalising Best Practice in Higher Education in the Caribbean"
The word 'best' is heavily value laden and, therefore, 'best practice' can only be discussed within a particular context - in this instance, higher education in the Caribbean. The Strategic Plan for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM 2014), outlines the strategic priorities for the region until 2019 as follows: strong economic growth and reduction in poverty and unemployment; improved quality of life; reduced environmental vulnerability; an integrated Community with equity for all. The Plan envisages a strong role for tertiary education in preparing its graduates to deliver on these priorities. Drawing on the UWI Survey of the Literature on Global Best Practices in Higher Education (Harvey 2012), this keynote paper examines the problematique of defining best practice in higher education. It then examines the definition in terms of higher education helping to meet the defined priority needs of the Caribbean. In so doing, an attempt is made to illustrate the definition by drawing on examples of 'best practice' in higher education in Cuba, a country operating within severe economic strictures, yet able to meet its particular societal needs and to have such 'best practice', particularly in medicine, as to help serve the whole world. From the derived definition, the paper considers some of the implications for application to higher education institutions and programmes and to quality assurance agencies in the Caribbean.
Keywords: Best practice; Postsecondary education; Cuba; Curriculum; Research; Quality assurance