|School Enterprises: Combining Vocational Learning with Production (UNEVOC, 1998, 64 p.)|
|1. Key Issues and Hypotheses|
The principle of school enterprises can be interpreted as serving a variety of economic, educational and social objectives.
The economic considerations can be discussed along three dimensions: labour market, market production and school budgetary/self-financing aspects.
A major economic justification for establishing school enterprises is the need for promoting competencies for self and wage employment. Many of the students who come from disadvantaged families cannot afford to prolong their education. Increasing employment opportunities for participants who graduate from educational and vocational training establishments would therefore shorten the period of transition between school and labour market. Students from disadvantaged families require vocational competencies which make them productive members of the communities to which they belong.
The important way to make the transition from education to the labour market is by orienting courses to a particular market or sub-market with respect to products and qualifications. Market production is therefore to be seen as a vehicle for systematic learning as well as for entry to the labour market. Market production includes promoting competencies which are required for launching and managing small-scale enterprises. It also means promoting the ability to create ones own work, the ability to undertake surveys, and the ability to determine the market needs and economic potential of the catchment area of the institution.
In several developing countries, priority now being given to rural development - partly reflected in enhanced investments in integrated rural development, employment, income generation and amelioration of the economic conditions of the disadvantaged - will require skills inputs in diverse directions. Such programmes as the use of water resources, upgrading environment, social forestry, application of technology to farming and allied occupations, diversification of agricultural production in such directions as food processing and preservation, and promotion of horticulture and floriculture will require vocationally specialised skills which school enterprises can provide. The linkage of education and production, while meeting the existing skill requirements of the rural economy, will help in diversifying the rural economy.
As regards self-financing and the budgetary dimensions of technical and vocational training institutions, school enterprises provide a good alternative for matching operating costs by means of production for the market.
An important objective of school enterprises is therefore the combination of technical and commercial/ business curricula. Market analysis, accounting, marketing, distribution of goods and services, costing, management and organisation of production, etc. is considered an opportunity to enhance the curriculum of production lines such as tool-making and farming. The knowledge and skills of the students are job-specific which they can use in the provision of goods and services required in the community.
A further basic educational justification for combining learning with market production is learning through hands-on experiences. The close connection between production and vocational education holds a major chance of avoiding the weaknesses of reality removed technical and vocational education, thus making reality-based learning possible.
The modality of school enterprises is expected to improve the integration of theory and practice through a better understanding of scientific principles and processes of deduction implied in the various types of job-specific tasks. It will assist in learning the role of different technologies and new methods of production. It will develop the ability to choose freely and more adequately the field of studies, work and career5 and develop a broad range of practical, problem-solving and production skills and allow skilled workers to find new opportunities for vocational self-actualisation.
In the context of the achievement of the goal of universal basic education, the need for vocational education which promotes the capacity in students to produce goods and supply services becomes particularly significant.
Apart from promoting the ability to create ones own work, the basic thrust of the modality of school enterprises is the development of general personality traits or non-cognitive dispositions and orientations through involvement in real work processes and market production. These traits include self-confidence, risk taking, innovative behaviour, perseverance, creativity, uprightness, self-determination, habits of discipline, positive motivation towards work, ability to think in overall contexts, ability to solve problems, independence, team work, willingness to learn, flexibility, independent decision-making, concentration, responsibility, precision, information processing, independent learning, reliability, quality consciousness, cleanliness, thoroughness in ones work, development of self-esteem and self-assuredness.6 The notion of combining production with learning in Waldorf Schools7, in the alternative projects of Jugendberufsschule8 in Germany, in Don Bosco Schools9 in developing countries, as well as in the Danish production schools, derives mainly from the importance given to practical learning in the development of personality, and the teaching of work tasks in order to inculcate values.10 The expectations for these so-called soft skills is increasing.
6 The growing awareness in developed countries of these personality factors has led to the introduction of newly developed methods of teaching, such as guide-oriented learning and training methods, project- and transfer-oriented training, modular training systems. See the series Modellversuche zur beruflichen Bildung, Federal Institute for Vocational Training, Berlin
7 Rist, G. P. and Schneider, P., 1982; Fintelmann, K. J., 1991
8 Ketter, P.-M., Petzold, H.-J. and Schlegel, W., 1986
9 Oerder, K., 1991
10 Castro, Claudio de Moura, 1988, pp. 195-206
Thus the modality of school enterprises is expected to ensure a balanced development of the physical, emotional and mental attitudes, and moral and aesthetic values in the interest of youngsters and of society.11
11 UNESCO-IBE, 1982
The third rationale for the modality of school enterprises is social. Social and pedagogical considerations are mutually related. Thus, preparing and training for co-operative and participatory forms of production has not only pedagogical value (learning in team work) but also social value.
The modality of school enterprises will assist in bridging the gap that presently exists between education, community and the work situation, thus promoting an integration between education and development at the community level. This development at the level of the community also concerns promoting a sense of citizenship, a general acceptance of obligations and responsibilities, and clear individual rights and privileges, thus promoting social cohesion and social stability. Fear of youth unemployment is real, and the political ramifications of youth misbehaviour are disturbing. But school enterprises are not simply a means to keep youth off the street, but have the important function of mixing volunteer and community obligations to engender social commitment.
Not only will school enterprises provide basic training for employment and training in new skills and understanding in order to meet the challenges of rapid technological and societal change, but they will be in the service of the people, rather than only in the service of the secondary industry. This means reconceptualising technical and vocational education for meeting the needs of unemployed youth, women and rural dwellers in developed and developing countries alike.
Further school enterprises are expected to reduce discrimination against manual work and promote social mobility. They are expected to teach students to recognise the economic and social values of the various types of work by inculcating in them, through education, respect for workers, and for the world of labour in general and the realities of work.12