|Developments in Technical and Vocational Education: A Comparative Study - Trends and Issues in Technical and Vocational Education (UNESCO, 1978, 144 p.)|
The present study has drawn a broad picture of the current situation with regard to technical and vocational education in the context of overall educational development, on the basis of reports from twenty-three representative developing countries. As this study is designed for an international audience, the emphasis has been placed on areas of experience common to several or most of the countries, rather than on the particularities, with a view to sharing information useful to a number of countries and to identifying areas for more effective international co-operation.
It is clear from the material provided by the various countries that approaches to both the philosophy and structure of education have changed radically in recent years, and the expansion and development of technical and vocational education is at the very core of this change. Real progress has been made in terms of basic legislation and adoption of policy indicating intent and the future direction of educational development. A number of new structures have been created or existing ones modified to implement this policy. This action has on the whole been conceived and initiated in the spirit of the Unesco Revised Recommendation concerning Technical and Vocational Education.
In virtually all the countries, specialized technical and vocational institutions offering preparation for an occupational field at upper secondary level have been expanded, and in many cases this expansion has been, both quantitatively and in terms of the amount of resources devoted to it, the primary area of action. The major innovative thrust, however, has been in two directions: the integration of technical and vocational education with general education in comprehensive institutions and the development of post-secondary technical education. For the most part, only beginning steps have been made in these two directions as they imply wide-ranging educational reforms which can only be achieved in the long run. The expansion of the specialized institutions which come within a more traditional approach to technical and vocational education has been undertaken to meet current pressing needs for skilled workers and lower level technicians. Unfortunately, at present, these students have relatively few opportunities for higher education, and since adequate forms of continuing education for employed workers have yet to be evolved, there appear to be few opportunities for professional change or upgrading in the foreseeable future. Indeed the area where the least action has so far taken place appears to be in the development of continuing education and of comprehensive educational and vocational guidance services.
Four major problem areas are common to most of the countries. The first and most intangible is made up of attitudes of resistance to change, and negative views as to the value of technical and vocational education. The second is composed of financial restraints on development. The third is lack of co-ordination between education and employment on questions of planning, training, and curriculum development among others. The fourth area is formed by problems of implementation and improvement of technical and vocational programmes, including lack of information and research facilities for curriculum development and evaluation, hindrances to the recruitment and training of qualified teachers and lack of provision for local production of learning materials and equipment.
These problems are all closely interlinked and no one can be solved in isolation from another. Thus the most effective strategies for solving problems in one area would be developed with the possible positive repercussions in other areas in mind.1 Such an approach is particularly important to countries, such as those compared in this study, in a position of limited resources which necessitates hard decisions as to their allocation and maximum utilization. The reports described a number of valid innovative actions directed towards developing technical and vocational education. However, the research facilities, access to information and planning and evaluation procedures necessary for closely linking these efforts within the framework of overall plans for educational reform remain unavailable to many. It is in this area of analysis and distribution of information and of promotion of research and experimentation for innovation that international co-operation may be most effective.
1. For an analysis of possible approaches to developing such concurrent strategies see Strategies for the Development of Technical and Vocational Education (ED.76/WS/41 Unesco, 7 May 1976).
In conclusion, in view of the Revised Recommendation concerning Technical and Vocational Education and the situation as presented in the twenty-three countries whose experience has been outlined in these pages, international co-operation in this field directed to better equipping countries to solve their problems might well concentrate on the following:
1. Collection, analysis and circulation of information concerning development problems in technical and vocational education and approaches to their solution,
2. Promotion of research and experimentation directed to autonomous development in the field of technical and vocational education in the following areas:
(a) methods of co-ordinating educational planning and development with the current and projected employment situation;
(b) methods of organizing research to identify needs and work out appropriates strategies, including development of structures, creation of facilities and initiation of experimental projects;
(c) approaches to curriculum development for technical and vocational education and technical teacher training, including co-ordination with enterprises;
(d) methods and procedures for evaluating technical and vocational education, including possible means of introducing permanent supervision and evaluation of the system as a whole;
(e) approaches to the development of locally produced equipment and learning materials, including self-learning materials especially designed for continuing education, and development at international level of model material suitable for adaptation to various local environments;
(f) methods of maximizing and rationalizing the use of equipment and facilities;
(g) approaches to continuous staff development, including organization of exchange of personnel on an international basis for study and research; and
(h) approaches to establishing national standards, corresponding to international norms where appropriate, for curricula and subsequent professional qualification, and for facilities and equipment.