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Can Six Sigma Work in the Education Sector?


The impact Six Sigma has made outside manufacturing – in industries and sectors such as construction, health, hospitality, service, management, human resources and more – has not gone unnoticed. This leads us to the question: what about the education sector?

There is so much potential, diversity and significance attributed to the education sector. However, it is one field that seems to have the most problems and inconsistency. Traditional methods of trying to generate consistent and quality output in all areas of the education sector have proven to be difficult (borderline impossible).

Six Sigma could be the methodology the education sector needs to succeed where traditional methods have failed, even though it has been around since 1986. It is a methodology that can work in this field, despite what many people believe. 

The Importance of Six Sigma in the education sector

From a glance, Six Sigma and education may look incompatible. Six Sigma needs outputs, stock, physical inputs and outputs, equipment and other targets to succeed. These are missing from the education field. The sector is famous for being largely influenced by human factors, which are unpredictable and hard to control.

Besides that, the stringent, data-driven and statistical approach of Six Sigma seems ill-suited for education’s softer side, such as individual learning outcomes and student satisfaction.

However, all hope is not lost since there are some parts of education that mesh well with the methodology. Education, like any other industry and sector, still has processes that are identifiable and repeatable. These are what place education in the realm of Six Sigma’s influence. These processes can be improved, which will, in turn, also improve the learning outcomes of students, as well as their satisfaction.

Greater efficiency is a trend that is sweeping through the educational world, making it more aligned with the goals of Six Sigma. There are several factors contributing to this trend, including:

  • Academic excellence is becoming critical due to the intensifying competition on a global scale.
  • Secondary and elementary schools are receiving increased pressure from the government to improve the performance of students.
  • Tertiary institutions are expected to provide high-quality coursework by students and their guardians due to the rising tuition costs.

Increased efficiency can be achieved through the elimination of waste. And waste can be eliminated by shedding more light onto the root causes of waste. Six Sigma has tools, such as the Five Whys and Fishbone diagrams, that can help institutions identify root causes and remove anything that doesn’t add value to their processes (waste).

Six Sigma tools and techniques can also increase the efficiency of school districts in a number of areas. These include teaching techniques, safety, absenteeism, textbook purchasing, supply cost reduction, energy costs reduction and many more.


Many people will say that Six Sigma and education don’t work well together, but this is just a myth. There is so much pressure being placed on the education sector to improve its processes. The pressure comes from students, guardians and government, as well as global social-economical factors. Moving forward, the educational sector will rely more on Six Sigma.


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