|School Enterprises: Combining Vocational Learning with Production (UNEVOC, 1998, 64 p.)|
|1. Key Issues and Hypotheses|
The move to incorporate enterprises in schools is justified on various grounds: improve the employment situation, raise additional resources, and find new ways of teaching and learning so as to increase pupils interest in their studies. School enterprises contribute in a significant way to educational reforms in society in terms of alternative methods, structures, and even goals of learning.
The main questions are how can school enterprises prepare individuals for particular jobs and clusters of jobs? What can we learn from the experiences of various countries? What are the varieties of ways of combining productive enterprises and education and training curricula? What are the dynamics over time of developments in combining learning with the world of work? Which programmes seem to be most successful? Can they really contribute to facilitating transition from school to employment, or to raising school quality? What are the conditions - organisation, management, institutional involvement, teaching personnel and financing - for the effective implementation of school enterprises?
Although much is known about the philosophies of combining education with work and their incorporation in policy, very little is known of how such philosophies and policies have been translated into programme practice, or the practical implementation of the curriculum in the daily activities of teaching and learning in the school, the learning organisation, the teaching staff, the regulatory mechanisms and the financial aspects. The question of whether these schools exist in the form intended in the original objectives and whether they have been able to realise the concept of combining education with production deserves a special study.
While many projects are still entrenched in the formal sector, only sparse documentation is available on school enterprises in the context of vocational and technical education for the informal sector. The introduction of school enterprises in/for the growing informal sector therefore deserves special attention.
School administrators are faced with decisions on specific cost-effective quality-improving investments and various trade-offs. What they want are guides to specific investment choices. Can learning-by-doing and work experience and other pedagogical characteristics of the work of school enterprises be a good investment? What can we learn from the case studies on the importance of investment in quality compared to an investment in something else. To whom should quality-improving investments be targeted? To the socially disadvantaged?
However, simply knowing that productive work is a cost-efficient means of raising learning achievement is not enough, as educational managers are increasingly being held responsible for the achievement of products which reach well beyond the sales of products and services and academic achievement. The question that needs to be addressed is therefore: to what extent school enterprises promote specific cognitive skills, values, attitudes, and work culture such as diligence, creativity and personal responsibility?
Ministries of education and other agencies need feedback, partly to improve professional services and administrative effectiveness in the context of limited resources. The case studies have the important function of keeping local education researchers and decision makers informed of alternative techniques used elsewhere. Further, every rigorous analysis of an educational problem requires comparison of some kind. There is a growing tendency to see the market production of goods and services as the most efficient system. Can the same apply for education? To what extent and in what way should the private sector be involved in education and in human resource development. There is also a tendency to argue for the state to be less involved in education and in human resource development policies. But yet there remain significant parts of the public educational system which cannot be carried out through private means alone. Comparative analyses of cases can help in this respect to document instances of differential modes and mixes of public and private provisions contribution to the criteria of efficiency and equity.
The case studies are expected to focus on the following broader policy issues:
1. How can technical and vocational education contribute to employment creation?
2. How can the school enterprise concept be one type of promotion within the development of diversified technical and vocational education systems?
3. How can competencies related to jobs be more effectively developed through co-operation with local industry and enterprise and thus reduce costs of state-run technical and vocational education as well as increase its relevance?
4. How can technical and vocational education be promoted for the growing informal sector?