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close this bookThe Integration of General and Technical and Vocational Education - Trends and Issues in Technical and Vocational Education 3 (UNESCO, 1986, 356 p.)
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View the documentPreface
View the documentIntroduction
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View the documentConclusion
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According to a dictionary definition, integration means ‘the joining together of parts to make a whole which works together as one’. The history of education, especially because of the influence of industrialization, comprises educational subsystems. In some cases (for instance, non-formal education or vocational training) separate systems have come into being, and as a consequence of industrialization and the needs it engenders each of these subsystems has come to have its own philosophy and objectives, leading to an even greater fragmentation of the overall system.

For some time now, governments and professional bodies as a whole have recognized the disadvantages of this separatist approach and have therefore called for an integrated system that would once again unify the subsystems.

On an international level, this desire has also been strongly reflected in the Unesco Revised Recommendation concerning Technical and Vocational Education, adopted by the General Conference at its eighteenth session in 1974. Paragraph 2 of the Recommendation states that technical and vocational education should be seen as: ‘(a) an integral part of general education; (b) a means of preparing for an occupational field; (c) an aspect of continuing education.’

Paragraph 6 makes it clear that ‘technical and vocational education’ is a comprehensive term that should not be taken narrowly to mean preparation for a single occupation. Furthermore, paragraphs 6 and 7 make the following provisions

6. Given the necessity for new relationships between education, working life, and the community as a whole, technical and vocational education should exist as part of a system of lifelong education adapted to the needs of each particular country. This system should be directed to:

(a) abolishing barriers between levels and areas of education, between education and employment, and between school and society through: (i) the integration of technical and vocational and general education in all educational streams above primary level; (ii) the creation of open and flexible educational structures; (iii) the taking into account of individuals’ educational needs and of the evolution of occupations and jobs;

(b) improving the quality of life by permitting the individual to expand his intellectual horizons and to acquire and to constantly improve professional skills and knowledge while allowing society to utilize the fruits of economic and technological change for the general welfare.

7. Technical and vocational education should begin with a broad basic vocational education, thus facilitating horizontal and vertical articulation within the education system and between school and employment thus contributing to the elimination of all forms of discrimination and should be designed so that it:

(a) is an integral part of everyone’s basic general education in the form of initiation to technology and to the world of work;

(b) may be freely and positively chosen as the means by which one develops talents, interests and skills leading to an occupation in the sectors listed in paragraph 2 or to further education;

(c) allows access to other aspects and areas of education at all levels by being grounded on a solid general education and, as a result of the integration mentioned in paragraph 6(a), containing a general education component through all stages of specialization;

(d) allows transfers from one field to another within technical and vocational education;

(e) is readily available to all and for all appropriate types of specialization, within and outside formal education systems, and in conjunction or in parallel with training in order to permit educational, career and job mobility at a minimum age at which the general basic education is considered to have been acquired, according to the education system in force in each country;

(f) is available on the above terms and on a basis of equality to women as well as men;

(g) is available to disadvantaged and handicapped persons in special forms adapted to their needs in order to integrate them more easily into society.

This basic policy is illustrated graphically in Figures 1 and 2.

Whereas the 1962 Recommendation concerning Technical and Vocational Education took the traditional model as a basis, the Governmental Experts’ Committee that drafted the Revised Recommendation looked far ahead in forming a new concept - that of lifelong education. This Committee was in particular inspired by the report of the International Commission on the Development of Education Learning to Be, one of the major studies of the 1970s. A number of seminars and conferences also supported this trend and brought further information to the Committee, which enabled it to formulate more precise guidelines for Member States. The diagram for a lifelong education system was then adopted as a model for the revision of the 1962 Recommendation and distributed as document ED/MD/28 to Member States for comments.

The recommended strategy for the years to come accordingly foresees, after primary education, one school, preferably comprehensive, for the age-group 12 to 15 years. This school should have a modern approach to general education, the latter being truly general.

FIG. 1. Traditional educational structure model. G = general technical teacher, V = vocational teacher, T = technical teacher, W = workshop teacher, O = training officer, I = training instructor.

A problem of terminology arose during the Experts’ Meeting. Many terms already exist for this type of education, which covers the technical and vocational aspects of general education. A sampling of terms used in different countries includes practical arts, polytechnical education, pre-vocational education, technical orientation, manual arts, etc. Chapter IV of the Revised Recommendation offers a clear philosophy of this type of education and adequately covers present trends in the area, as the following case-studies will show. There are, however, differences in the implementation of these programmes, some tending to be essentially theoretical and others more practical. Here again, integration is desirable, specifically with regard to the integration of theory and practice. This method, from a pedagogical point of view, seems to be the most effective.

FIG. 2. Structure model for a system of lifelong education.

It is in any case clear that up to age 15 no specialized education should be given. Rather, the education provided should have a general character, the technical and vocational elements serving as orientation by helping students to prepare for active life in the future. Vocational guidance should consequently also play its natural role during this period.

More complicated and more frequently discussed is the reform of upper-secondary education, involving the age group 16 to 19 years. Comprehensive schools at this level are still in an experimental stage, and a number of countries prefer a diversified system. Academic education has continued its role of preparing an elite, while vocational training prepares those who do not find a place in the academic system.

Upper-secondary education has been considered a period in which the learner has made a decision or should make a decision on his future role in society, employment and active life. Some systems offer a basic course, postponing the decision to the last or the next to last year, and sometimes offer the possibility of learning two trades, thereby enabling a choice to be made at a later stage.

In other countries, specialized vocational schools have their proper place and are fully equal to their counterparts in general education. After graduation, students may pursue their studies at higher-education establishments.

The major problem at the upper-secondary level lies in the fact that parallel training systems are created that cater to this age-group. These systems provide vocational training for skilled workers but do not allow for the pursuance of further studies. Such programmes are usually administered outside the educational system and are strongly oriented towards the needs and demands of employers. This situation clearly involves a certain conflict of interests - the needs of the individual learners do not always coincide with those of the employers. For the democratization of the system, it is important to find a balanced solution to the problem. The technical and vocational education system is more often oriented towards the individual learner’s needs, in so far as it provides the necessary background for future mobility and for adjustment to technological changes. It does not, however, provide the narrow specialized training employers prefer in order to raise production. Nevertheless, the system must take into consideration employers’ interests, and close co-operation, if not integration, between education and employment is highly desirable.

A number of provisions in this regard have been made in the Revised Recommendation, but as vocational training comes within the field of competence of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), mention should be made of ILO Recommendation 150 concerning Vocational Guidance and Vocational Training in the Development of Human Resources, and of ILO Convention 142 on the same subject, which states in Article 2:

With the above ends in view, each Member shall establish and develop open, flexible and complementary systems of general, technical and vocational education, educational and vocational guidance and vocational training, whether these activities take place within the system of formal education or outside it.

The term ‘open’ system may be taken here to mean connections between education and training and possibly periods in employment. Further information will be given concerning this level of education and training in the concluding chapter of the present study.

Reverting to the diagram that illustrates the Unesco Revised Recommendation concerning Technical and Vocational Education, a very innovative measure may be noted after the upper-secondary level. This is so-called educational employment - a one- to two-year period is recommended before entrance into higher education or before making a decision on actual employment. This employment period would be educational in nature, and strong guidance should be provided to the learner. It might be considered a sort of modern apprenticeship.

It was also thought that such an approach would provide the proper foundation for lifelong education, which should in fact be made up of alternating periods of learning and work.

In consequence, the Unesco Revised Recommendation states in paragraph 13(a) that consideration should be given to ‘multipurpose secondary education offering diversified curricula including work-study programmes’ and recommends, in paragraph 59, that ‘Guidance in technical and vocational education as preparation for an occupation field should... (d) supplement the later stages of the programmes by short periods of work experience and study of real work situations’.

The integration of technical education into general education will not pose a serious problem, in particular where the field of technical education is of a more academic type, e.g. commercial education. The real problem is to find ways of integrating vocational training and general education. The lack of recognition of practical work in the educational field seems to be a particular handicap. There is still a long way to go to find a system that gives full equivalence and credit to practical work as an educational element in its own right.

Integration is therefore a complex problem that cannot be solved merely by changing the structure of the system or by setting up coordinating bodies, but must also take account of the problems of equivalences and qualification. The following case-studies, carried out under contract with Unesco, describe various endeavours in the field. Certain guidelines were followed in the preparation of the studies so as to allow the reader to compare the various approaches to the integration of general and technical and vocational education. These guidelines, which are given in the Appendix, concentrate on the secondary level of the formal education system, distinguishing between the first and the second stages of secondary education. The guidelines likewise offer suggestions in respect of a graphic presentation of the overall educational system. The last chapter of the book offers a brief analysis of the trends in this area, based on the case-studies and on the results of some recent Unesco conferences.

The case-studies were completed early in 1980, and the time references in them should be read accordingly.