|School Enterprises: Combining Vocational Learning with Production (UNEVOC, 1998, 64 p.)|
|3. Conclusions and Guidelines|
A policy environment
The promotion of the concept of school enterprises needs support from policy makers.
Policy and legislation should influence the integration of production with technical and vocational education. Government could improve trainings responsiveness to market forces by building a capacity for labour-market analysis, the monitoring of training costs and outcomes, and information gathering from employers to determine the situation regarding the demand and supply of training in production fields which have a demand in the market.
A useful starting point for any policy discussion on school enterprise is the issue of to what extent are schools in a position to introduce market production. This raises not just logistical questions about resource availability, but also value orientation of the community. As schools are identified with academic culture, their market orientation may represent a culture of manual work which may be regarded by the community as inferior. Policy should take into account to what extent the organisational and pedagogical set-up of a school is appropriate for the effective development of vocational skills (as opposed to the mere practical ones).
It is imperative that, while providing a policy direction towards technical and vocational education, past experiences of various schemes of linking educational processes with the world of work are taken into account. Some of the problems identified earlier would need to be removed through suitable measures. As regards overall policy, problems may include weaknesses in the conceptualisation of school enterprises, lack of clear policy guidelines that provide proper directives to the institutions.
Development policy at the institutional level
At the institutional level, school enterprises must be seen primarily as places for training and contributing to technological development. School enterprises must be quick to adapt to the demands of new technologies and processes; all of which translates into an adjustment in the training content.
School enterprises should follow a policy which provides the best trade-off in reaching social skills and productive skills on the one hand, and the financial capabilities of local, regional and national communities on the other.
Where school enterprises exist as mere profit-making institutions, these might provide dangerous competition to existing small enterprises. Since competitive situations cannot be ruled out, school enterprises require carefully adjusted development policies.
The relevance of school enterprises in the context of the development of technical and vocational training makes sense only when a balance is struck between economic, educational and social goals.
School enterprises must function in the market place. School enterprises can optimally and most effectively use market orientation as a vehicle for imparting technical and vocational skills if it is an integral part of a trade/industrial promotion programme.
Parameters of ethical standards
Training is more efficient and effective through production. It is important, however, to ensure that trainees do not become low-wage workers or bound servants to the cause of production. Skills transfers and positive work attitude are goals that must be kept in mind.
Any productive activity in the context of school enterprises must be conducted within the parameters of ethical standards demanded by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The risks that child labour is involved in technical and vocational training institutions must be tackled at the policy and institutional level.
As school enterprises are primarily institutions for training human resources, and places where education is a public and not a private good, self-financing and cost-recovery methods of financing should be seen only as supplementary options, rather than as alternative sources to public finances.
The incentives that encourage the achieving of outcomes, may include reduced taxes for school enterprises, investment incentives, subsidised wages, preferred prices as well as industrial parks where the enterprises within them are exempt from taxes for a certain period of time. Industrial parks may be designed to enable students to be strongly established before they have to face the rigorous competition of the world of work.
In focusing on productivity and competitiveness, school enterprises should not loose sight of the need to bring the poor into these schools. Poor peoples principal asset is their labour, and improving their productivity and earnings is crucial for getting them out of poverty.
Students may be encouraged to undertake skill training because of a stipend, or poorer adult workers may be exempted from paying fees, or schools enterprises may be encouraged to integrate the poor in their training programmes because the government, a donor agency or a clerical organisation is ready to meet the costs. The location of school enterprises in poor areas can be a major source of skill acquisition for the economically disadvantaged.
The business risks arising during the starting phase should be taken over by partners: state, church and non-governmental organisations. For example, in the case of school enterprises specialising in construction trades, the government or church should make land and material available for the construction of houses, and be active in the acquisition of contracts especially in the construction of settlements in poorer areas.
School enterprises will require advice from experts in the government, private enterprise institutions or universities. This should enable them to build a strong base for their enterprises, increase productivity, and improve their training.
An essential element can be the enhancement of networking among teachers, managers and educationalists involved in school enterprises. Learning from each other can take place between institutions, or between regions and districts, and it tends to be very inspiring for all participants. The school management should co-operate with representatives of the local economy, community, and region.
The government must recognise the certification of school enterprises. Students must receive certification that encourages participation in the scheme as this may lead to greater status and promotion.
Efforts may have to be made to enhance the social prestige of non-formal institutions by establishing communication with formal institutions, and by endeavouring to obtain official recognition for the diplomas and certificates.
To the extent that school enterprises may socialise students to simpler occupations, it may implicitly deny access to higher occupations which require a good foundation of general academic science. It should, therefore, be possible to return to the academic stream without undue loss of time.
School enterprises require a well-designed and effective support infrastructure. Some of the most critical types of supports are teacher education, curriculum development, and ongoing professional and technical support.
The introduction of school enterprises requires an adjustment of existing pedagogical services. Here, the greater task tends to be the development of effective linkages with industrial organisations. Guidance and active contribution of these is important for ensuring the relevance and effectiveness of technology education and production projects.
A monitoring system
Continuous and systematic monitoring should be conducted. In the guidelines provided by the Central Institute of Vocational Education, India56, it has been recommended that a continuous appraisal should be conducted at intervals of not more than one month. The appraisal should focus on production (raw materials, means of production, finished product, quality, labour use, infrastructure facilities) and financing (running cost, depreciation, income generated, incentives to trainees and teachers, extension activities, innovations).
56 Verma, A.P., 1996
Review reports should be compiled once every month. They should be kept on record for reference and guidance for the immediate future. The accounts must be well-maintained and audited on a yearly basis. Learning outcomes should also be monitored regularly.
High standard of training
A reduction of operating costs by means of production for the market is only possible if the goods and services are of a high standard. The aim, therefore, should be to provide training of a very high order which leads to the deepening and diversification of skills which vocational courses are to provide.
Critical variables for the success of school enterprises
Evaluations of individual institutions have shown that the critical variables for successful implementation of school enterprises are:
· good leadership
· a common understanding between management, staff and the community about the nature and purpose of the programme
· enforceable agreements on inputs to be provided
· transparency in decision making and accounting
· participation by the communities within the area of influence of the school enterprise
· economic feasibility of the production and marketing schemes
· balance between economic and educational objectives
· awareness of the participants as regards labour relations, the rights of workers, systems of remuneration, and the ways in which appropriation of the economic surplus is effected, etc.
· assistance for trainees in the setting up of mini-business enterprises
· innovative performance and the pursuit of excellence in economic life in order to stimulate both the formation of human resources and their more effective utilisation
· the existence of a productive enterprise which is oriented to market conditions as decisive for the financial basis of meeting training costs
· public financial support for investments in innovations and improving the quality of teaching
· perception of school enterprises as a public good to which all sections of society have access, rather than as a private good which restricts access to only some segments of the population
· intimate relationships with the firms to which school enterprises provide skilled labour and technicians.
Lessons to be learned
From the study of school enterprises, it may be necessary to take into account the following principles in financing and managing technical and vocational education that is employment-related and vocationally specialised.
· The importance of both general and technical components of vocational skills within the definition human capital.
· The importance of technical and vocational education as a decentralised activity. Local initiative is a leading force in school enterprises. They are being driven not only by educational authorities, but also by local business and community groups, industries, and non-governmental organisations. These groups have the technology and expertise in both traditional and newly emerging skills. These new categories of participants are deeply affecting the vision and expressed interests of traditional central educational authorities.
· It takes a combination of methods of vocational education theory, on-the-job training, and diverse sorts of non-formal methods to provide a flexible system for the formation of human resources in any society.
· Closeness to utilisation and applications of competencies is of crucial importance for investments in employment-related vocationally specialised skills. School enterprises entail the notion of training people in close relation to future employers, so as to place them straight away in jobs that use their skills.
· People are motivated and show an interest in studies when future returns become visible to them. Motivation also means giving scope for independent endeavours, thereby enlisting the creative potential and participation of many people in the formation and utilisation of skills.
· Basic educational competencies are the prime step in developing vocationally specialised competencies in men and women. If insufficient attention is paid to these competencies, investments in technical and vocational education can have a distorting effect.
· The scope for development through vocational specialisation and employment-related training depends on the scale of the market. This means participation in markets for new and innovative products must be greatly enlarged. It also means producing goods of high quality, rather than poor imitations of products that others produce better. There is every indication that school enterprises will continue to develop, as schools seek investors and opportunities to produce products that meet international standards. The scale and extensive-ness of such a phenomenon is perhaps most distinctive in China and less so in other countries.
School enterprises present clear evidence on the flexibility and adaptability of such schools to changes in labour and market conditions. They meet not only temporary gaps in the formation of critical skills among the adult populations, but also long-term learning goals. And they constitute a basic type within technical and vocational education systems, supplementing on-the-job and enterprise training. School enterprises represent an important way of diversifying the finance of technical and vocational training institutions.