|School Enterprises: Combining Vocational Learning with Production (UNEVOC, 1998, 64 p.)|
|3. Conclusions and Guidelines|
Teaching staff in school enterprises include a wide variety of personnel. Master craftsmen are normally responsible for production as well as training and economic activities such as acquiring orders, keeping the production process going, and supervising the production trainees. Instructors are responsible for training. They supervise and help trainees acquire certain skills, knowledge and attitudes. Theory instructors hold theory classes. Experts from industry, such as qualified engineers, are expected to offer expert advice on demand.
In the context of school enterprises, teaching staff are expected to participate in more than one function. They are responsible not only for the production process but also for market production, and they are, at the same time, responsible for making possible a meaningful vocational education in theory and practice. In view of these multiple roles, effective functioning of school enterprises necessitates a division of labour of teaching staff with different skills and different backgrounds. Teachers must be recruited in terms of their technical, economic and didactic backgrounds, as well as in regard to their level and duration of practical experience. Special attention must be given to the recruitment of staff for the acquisition of orders and marketing. The monitoring of production may be carried out by experienced production workers or master craftsmen who should have experience in scheduling work and specifying practices through work manuals and so-called project handbooks. Didactic planning, instruction, and the control of learning progress in school enterprises should be the responsibility of full-time instructors who have been specifically prepared for this task. This division of labour is necessary in order to avoid a conflicting situation where teachers are caught between the learning requirement made by the school and the enterprises technical and economic interests.
But there are several problems faced by teachers in school enterprises. On the one hand, teaching staff may find that their productivity is low because of their out-of-date knowledge and experience. They may not be able to perform at a high enough standard. The training of technical and vocational teachers may not have included a true exposure to the world of job-related competencies. It may have been too academic, or too theoretical, to allow them to function effectively in production activities. On the other hand, the production activities may be inadequate for providing a sufficiently comprehensive and up-to-date experience for teachers.
There may be a low motivation to work in school enterprises on account of the lack of career mobility resulting from lack of industrial experience. Non-availability of appropriate incentives for staff and students involved in the process may result in disinterest and negative attitudes amongst them. The resistance to women and minority groups may deter school enterprises to employ such people as teachers.
Sometimes the conditions or work in production activities are more demanding than in purely training activities. Thus, the technical and vocational teachers may be reluctant to take on additional responsibilities of working in production activities. Therefore back up support to staff from the management of the school should be given special attention.
The trainers may be engaged in school enterprises in addition to their full-time duties in technical training institutes. This leaves them very little time to devote to the preparation of course material. They have usually had their training a long time ago and usually have no pedagogical experiences apart from demonstration and imitation.
Recruitment of teachers
The form and qualifications of the teachers in school enterprises is quite varied. Teachers have either had their training in state vocational teacher training institutes or through non-formal provisions provided by the state or non-governmental organisations. In a few cases, trainers and instructors are deliberately recruited from industry or from among experienced producers. They are given salaries that are similar to levels prevalent in industry. This prevents mobility into industry. However, not all school enterprises are able to afford high salaries for the teaching staff.
Although most school enterprises lay value on the possibility of recruiting the requisite training staff from among their own graduates, there is a high turnover among teaching staff, especially when teachers set up their own enterprises.
On the whole, licensed teachers with an official mentality may be inherently less suitable as instructors than are master craftsmen, technicians and engineers. The latter instructors can play an important role in imparting existing skills needed by local enterprises as well as in transmitting new emerging skills and, therefore, creating new markets.
Responsibilities of teaching staff and school heads
At the institutional level, a major consideration in the successful running of school enterprises, combining education with production for the market, is the role and responsibilities of the head teachers and the staff.
Those who get involved in school enterprise programmes find themselves turning into part-time farmers, wood or metalworkers, builders, supervisors of working parties, office managers, procurement officers, and financial administrators. Very often, no prior training for these roles has been received or the original training proves to be insufficient. School enterprises may also involve extra duties during out-of-school hours with regard to preparation, repair or maintenance, extra-curricular activities, industrial visits or community service. This is not counting the large amounts of time and energy being spent on professional development activities away from school.
The options for organising staff vary greatly. The start-up and experimenting with new learning activities is heavily dependent on the special commitment of teachers who choose to work with the initiating agencies. Where teachers are given special responsibilities, these should be officially acknowledged, supported with training, and rewarded with incentives.
The division of responsibilities in the context of school enterprises applies to the vertical division of tasks between ministries, national organisations and lower levels of authority, and school enterprises. It also applies to the division between school heads, staff and trainees, and between schools, communities (parents and workers) and industrial organisations (managers, employers, employees). Generally, it seems that more decentralised and participatory decision making and more sharing of tasks between the parties concerned promotes greater interest, motivation and commitment.
An essential condition for the above to take place is an improved information system as a basis for more effective planning. More options for school activities and a greater diversity of requirements in terms of staffing, materials, tools, etc. make greater demands on efficient administrative interaction within the education system and with the external environment.
Matching teachers with special facilities and materials and with local needs is a complex exercise. Information flow in a decentralised context may help in adapting the changing scope and complexity of school enterprises with competency development and with availability of local and national resources.
Managerial continuity through long-term commitment of individuals may be important for the success of school enterprises.
Basic services and associations
Although instructors may be qualified to teach, come from social backgrounds similar to the students, have a good relationship with the students, and transmit the competencies efficiently, many of them nevertheless lack a pedagogical background. Further education to promote the didactic competencies of instructors should include the following elements: before the beginning of the course, teachers/instructors/trainers should be engaged in course planning, setting up a workshop, selection of adequate course materials, working out didactic materials, and selection of adequate training methods. During the course, they should be taught how to prepare a lesson plan and how to evaluate student performance. After the course, teachers/trainers/instructors should be able to evaluate the learning output (competencies acquired), evaluate the course, evaluate the course success (employment placement, prevention of migration into cities, more relevant, more cost-effective, etc.).
An essential element of teacher upgrading can be the enhancement of networking among instructors, master craftsmen, experts from industry, managers and educationalists involved in school enterprises by arranging for regular professional interaction and co-operation between teaching staff and administrators at school level, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, industrial experts, supervisors, inspectors, educational advisors and teacher educators at regional and district levels. This interaction can provide minimal guidance and moral encouragement to teacher staff, and lead to joint activities in areas like curricular adaptation, organisational improvement of activities, and designing supplementary learning materials.
The MES and similar modular vocational training concepts are most suited in the advanced training of instructors who need to acquire additional partial qualifications to improve their technical know-how. In conjunction with some pedagogical training, the MES could be used to qualify technical trainers and advisers in small and micro-enterprises (especially in rural areas) with a trade specific and also self-employment focus. Such training of trainers could be held in existing school enterprises.
Continuous upgrading of the teaching staff via refresher courses is necessary to ensure that the school enterprise keeps abreast of technical progress.
Teachers can play an important role in curriculum development in the quality of in-service and pre-service training of instructors. There should be an adequate curriculum for instructor training. Facilities for how a school enterprise should be equipped or operated should be made available. Didactics should be taught. Instruction in teaching methods should be conducted by staff who have experience in teaching adolescents in workshops. Training should include how to conduct a survey of existing skill requirements in the local area. Managers of the training of instructors should themselves have adequate exposure to in-service training.
The implementation of school enterprises demands interaction between professional agencies and the schools. Curriculum centres and the inspectorate need to work directly with the teachers. Where teachers centres or resource centres exist, they must be adequately equipped. A lot depends on the voluntary commitment of already overburdened teachers. Relations with other government departments, or with industrial establishments, must be strengthened.
There is also a need for a reorientation of professional style: moving away from a top-down, prescriptive approach to a more collaborative and supportive one. The instructor should be treated as more than an advisor who should be there to reply to questions put by the students. This independent problem-solving attitude and further education can be promoted through the facilities of a library, in-service training, distance programmes and self-contained manuals.