|Current Issues and Trends in Technical and Vocational Education - Studies No. 8 (UNEVOC, 1996, 67 p.)|
In almost all reporting countries, technical and vocational education is seen as a means of human resource development, leading to social and economic progress. Technical and vocational education has become a vital part of the education system and its role in the democratization of education has been increasingly recognized. Some of the reports underline the role of technical and vocational education in keeping pace with new technological developments and in providing the much needed skilled manpower, especially in the developing countries, many of which indicated that budgetary constraints had limited the full development of technical and vocational education.
While many reports mention the provision of educational and vocational guidance services, most of them indicate that efficient vocational guidance has not been sufficiently introduced. However, some important advances have been achieved in the assessment of the needs of extending the guidance and counselling services beyond the school population: information and advisory services have been offered also to parents, minority groups, migrants, young women and girls; along with extensive career guidance services for unemployed and underemployed adults.
Many countries recognize the need to introduce various forms of continuing education, since full-time pre-service training can not provide all required skills and knowledge to meet the developmental needs. Rapid technological advances in the past decade have further increased the need for relevant training and retraining programmes. The introduction of various incentive schemes, such as work release, study grants, industry or state-sponsored in-service training, coupled with modular instruction techniques and distance education, have been instrumental in consolidating these concepts of continuing and flexible education in the technical and vocational field.
The various measures reported for expansion of technical and vocational education include the increasing participation of women in this field. In many countries, equal access is now the subject of legislation. In countries where generally separate streams are maintained for girls in the education system, special schools and institutions are being established, where women can pursue technical studies in certain fields. A number of reports indicate that attention has been given to the provision of some special facilities for the handicapped, while in a few cases there are ongoing efforts continue to integrate them in mainstream technical and vocational education.
Several reports refer to the introduction of new technologies such as video, television and computers in technical and vocational education, noting that the inclusion of these new technologies in the curricula is essential to enable the trainees to keep pace with scientific and technological advances, especially in the field of computer technology. It is also indicated, that the introduction of new technologies into the education process is costly, and generous contributions of hardware and software by various industrial and commercial enterprises, along with the support of donor agencies and organizations have helped to a great extent.
Most report emphasis the importance of teacher training and describe various measures taken to improve the quality of teacher education. They deal with general questions of teacher-training methodology and curricula, and questions of differences of work - load between teachers of theoretical and of practical subjects are reported frequently. In some countries, these two functions are entrusted to different teachers, while in others there is a tendency to combine the two functions under one teacher, which is thought to bring better results.
Almost all countries reports emphasis the importance of international co-operation in the field of technical and vocational education and provide details on the bilateral, regional and international activities in this field. Exchange of information and experience, training activities and institutional linkages are the most common modalities of co-operation. References are also made to UNESCO-implemented projects in individual countries emphasizing the role of regional educational innovation programmes and specifically the network of UNEVOC centres.
The exchange of information is seen as an important area of international co-operation. Curricula, textbooks, audio-visual aids, modular materials, computer software, research findings and policy statements are the most favoured materials for exchange. Fellowships are also appreciated as a useful means of international co-operation. Exchange of information is considered an indispensable element in developing research in technical and vocational education and is being carried out on a large scale.
The international exchange of vocational teachers and students marks the beginning of an international mobility of labour at all levels, with many countries reliant to some extent on the remittances from their nationals working abroad. Countries, exporting more highly educated and better trained personnel gain more than those exporting unskilled or semi-skilled labour.