|School Enterprises: Combining Vocational Learning with Production (UNEVOC, 1998, 64 p.)|
|3. Conclusions and Guidelines|
School enterprises must have a certain freedom to move on the market. This autonomy should also extend to the training concept, the selection of students, the use of earnings, the remuneration and upgrading of training personnel and production workers, choice of financing methods, the examination and certification procedures, and various other regulation and incentive structures.
Public educational institutions may lack an effective relationship between the school and the market. This may hamper the effective functioning of school enterprises. By contrast, integration with the market may be easier and more real in the case of programmes conducted by non-state organisations and local community bodies.
There is the problem of how productive work should be assessed, particularly how to capture the more complex learning outcomes such as the cognitive skills, problem-solving skills and the practical competencies. There is also the problem of the extent to which programmes such as project work, productive work, or prevocational studies should be nationally examined and play a role in selection to a higher level.
The inclusion of market production in the national examinations may be an effective way to make pupils and parents take productive tasks seriously and to increase their status as acceptable areas of learning. There is a glaring difference between school enterprises where, even when productive work is examined and assessed, they rarely feature in the entry requirements for higher-level education or training. This even occurs where the selection is for technical training colleges. These tend to be more interested in the performance in academic subjects than in the previous productive experience. In the context of school enterprises new criteria for assessment, such as project work, team work and creativity need to given more emphasis. Many questions remain however. Who should grade the examinations and provide school-level observations? The answer could include teacher associations, parent committees, and representatives of the ministry and the academic community.
Selection of students
Several background factors, such as age, work-experience, business exposure, social background, wish and potential of candidates, men/women and rural/urban ratios play a role in the selection of trainees in school enterprises. Rigorous selection or enrolment policies, where achievement and economic potential aspects of the candidate play an important role, need to be weighed against social background of trainees and equity aspects.
Selection criteria need, however, to be consistent with the development objectives of the vocational institute.48 If self-employment is the focus of school enterprises, then trainees should be selected who have an aptitude for self-employment. This has been demonstrated in the case of the Don Bosco Self-Employment Research Institute, Calcutta, which selects students on the basis of their social and economic disadvantage as well as their entrepreneurial skills. Instructors and trainers carry out the important task of identifying and selecting those trainees for training in self-employment who show entrepreneurial abilities. Equity considerations are applied right from the stage of enrolment of trainees to the institute, because an important objective of this institute is to promote self-employment among the socially and economically disadvantaged youth. This combination of self-employment potential and social disadvantage as a selection criteria is especially important in the state of West Bengal, which is known to lack an enterprise culture: a culture which motivates students to take risks or enrol for technical subjects.
48 See Grierson, J. P. and McKenzie, I. (eds.), 1996
Equity considerations play an especially important role among the school enterprises which are run by church organisations, rather than private industry. The good chances for graduates of the Don Bosco Technical Institutes to find jobs in the modern sector induces middle-class families to obtain a training place for their children, even in schools set up for poor children. Nevertheless, many of the Don Bosco Institutes recruit children exclusively from very poor families.
Most school enterprises in the survey place emphasis on basic general education competencies in the selection of trainees who mostly have at least eight years of education. Where this level of general education is lacking, trainees are required to undergo an extra year of training in the school enterprises. However, the fact that the majority of young people nowadays have a secondary education should not be overestimated as, very often, they are unable to solve even basic problems, such as unit conversion or the interpretation of simple technical drawings, because of the lack of basic knowledge in mathematics or physics.
Monitoring and evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation at the institutional level should have a pedagogical benefit, i.e. it should be an aid to the learning system. The appraisal of production should be taken up by the students by first theoretically planning the production norms, materials, cost and quality, marketing and innovations suggested. In terms of quality enhancement, improvements should be made in production technology, as well as reduction in process time, by both trainees and trainers.
Effective monitoring requires a careful identification of relevant information categories, of indicators for change, of suitable methods for efficient data collection, of formats of change, of analysis and presentation which enable results to be used by different audiences be they be planners, researchers or the wider public. A variety of school activities may have to be systematically recorded. The roles of more parties need to be tracked. Wider diversity of skills, and cognitive and affective outcomes, need to be assessed than is the case in more conventional curriculum areas. Tracer information needs to be collected on how the output of the school system fits into the world of work (earnings of graduates by educational level, incidence of unemployment, time for recent graduates to land a job). The availability of learning materials needs to be documented. And finally, the cost per student by level and curriculum type also needs to be evaluated and monitored.
Inspection should be professional. Inspectors should have an objective criteria against which they evaluate school enterprises and training. They should possess a list of activities against which they can assess the mastery of skills. Likewise, the local relevance of the syllabus should be considered a part of their repertoire of inspection. Government officers should receive training in monitoring and evaluating school enterprises where such programmes form part of the official vocational training programmes. Resources should be used in such a way that local needs are given high priority.