|Distance Education in Engineering for Developing Countries - Education Research Paper No. 13 (DFID, 1995, 102 p.)|
|Section 3: Trends in education|
The distinction between education and training is often blurred. Education is usually perceived as being broader than training, not specifically task- or goal-orientated, but as an essential building block for personal development. While qualifications are an integral and important part of education, future and potential employment has not usually been an issue, until recently. Increasingly in the developed world and substantially in the developing world employment prospects are seen to be very strongly dependent upon educational success and qualifications.
On the other hand, training focuses very much on the goal and the end product. It can be defined more narrowly than education (of which it may be considered a subset) and usually offers a direct 'learning path' which is often skills-based. It frequently implies a short but intensive process undertaken to improve work-capability and often with promotion or employment in mind. It is seen by employers as more directly relevant to their business needs.
Increasingly, those involved in the business of education or training are having to define their target markets and ask themselves whether they are offering education or training or both, and to what end - as potential buyers are now much more concerned with such issues. In the face of growing unemployment, industrial restructuring, and the use of information technology in many parts of the world, purchasers of education and training are becoming more discerning about what they are purchasing and whether it will offer them an effective solution to their problems and a good return on their investment.
This also applies at governmental level. In the context of economic development, governments are having to take decisions, often on economic grounds, as to whether to offer education per se, or whether to concentrate on job-focused education or training with a view to employment. For example, in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe education is both highly valued and in great demand, but as a result of the urgent unemployment problems there is a fundamental question of whether people should be educated "for education's sake", or whether the education system will have to begin to address the high unemployment problem amongst men and women, especially at the tertiary level.
Such decisions obviously have a great impact on the kind of education or training available within a country, and to whom it is offered, at what level and at what cost. Industry and business are generally more interested in targeted training, while students themselves are often - although not always - more attracted by a broader education. In the three countries investigated, the majority of younger students appeared to be more interested in studying the arts and humanities than in technical subjects such as engineering. In meeting these needs and demands, educationalists and trainers need to show both flexibility and responsiveness to the market place. Evidently this also applies to providers of distance education.
The education/training distinction is often further blurred by the current trend of considering whether learning should be trainer- or learner-centred. Trainer-centred learning typically involves a more traditional approach with the trainer offering direct instruction, while in a learner-centred system the learners learn for themselves through access to resources, demonstrations etc. Good distance learning is a learner-centred process integrated with active student involvement.