Quality of vocational education and training too much dependent on contingency

Toomas Mattson | 4/6/2005 | 12:00 AM

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TALLINN, 6 April 2005 - The State Audit Office (SAO) finds that there are good initiatives in vocational education in Estonia, however, they are incidental or only in the scheming phase and it is alarming that it should take the government so long to guarantee the quality of vocational education. Hence, the quality of vocational education and training is still mainly dependent on the region, particular school and field of specialisation.

The Ministry of Education and Research has set an objective to ensure uniform quality in the entire field of vocational education and training. However, the action needed to this end is only being envisaged. The most striking example is the national curricula. They have been under development for nearly 10 years and the deadline has been postponed until 2008. In the situation where there are no common curricula, part of responsibility has been laid on entrepreneurs who the schools must let review their curricula. At the same time it is unclear which entrepreneur the future curriculum should be “modelled” upon, how many entrepreneurs should be consulted for opinion, whether the judgement of a professional association is superior to that of entrepreneurs.

The Ministry has planned to start the accreditation or the assessment of the internal quality of vocational education and training in the year after next. The vocational education standard, which enables to acquire job skills for those who are not able to complete general education, is in the drafting stage. Similarly, the opportunity to upgrade their secondary education for those who wish to pursue further studies after the completion of vocational education, is yet to be outlined.

The launch of the Estonian Education Information System has taken longer than expected. This, in turn, has had an effect on vocational education and training, where more and better information should be obtained for improved decision-making. There is no overview of teachers for the last five years, which is a major drawback, the last data were collected in 2000. Thus it is not known what is the length of service and the qualification of instructors currently employed in vocational schools and what are the subject fields in which there is an acute shortage. More information should be available about the students discontinuing their studies or remaining unemployed, and also about the expectations and satisfaction of entrepreneurs.

The Ministry of Education and Research intends to review the principles used for the assessment of the need for government-commissioned education. So far the schools continue to advertise unpopular areas of specialisation under more attractive names or admit students to related fields, regardless of the fact that such specialists are not in demand in today’s labour market. A major problem area is the demand for seamstresses, however, schools admit students to study for the profession of a tailor instead, since the latter is more popular with students.

The practical training that goes with vocational education differs greatly by school and by area of specialisation. Due to the lack of national curricula, the proportion of practical training in the schools’ curricula has varied for years.

Practical training in schools is directly impacted by the condition of training facilities. There are no minimum requirements in place for training facilities, however, compliance with such requirements should be a prerequisite for the provision of instruction in any area of specialisation; neither are there maximum requirements meant to avoid overdevelopment and waste of resources. Practical training in companies is uneven and inconsistent. It has not been determined whether an entrepreneur should be rewarded for an excellent provision for practical training. Schools have different views on the instructors’ in-the-field training in companies. Some teachers keep themselves informed about the developments in enterprises operating in their field of specialisation, however, it is also possible to work as a teacher in vocational education even if it is years from the last contact with industry.

The Minister of Education and Research concurred with the proposals made by the SAO, conceding that the quality of vocational education and training requires systematic improvement.

Toomas Mattson
Communication Manager of National Audit Office
Telephone: 6400 777
Mob: 51 34900
E-mail: [email protected]

  • Posted: 4/6/2005 12:00 AM
  • Last Update: 9/22/2015 9:38 AM
  • Last Review: 9/22/2015 9:38 AM

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