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Career academic and multi-sectoral partnerships in education management are seen as the main criteria for the reform of the education system, and also key factors for the country’s economic development.

This issue was highlighted at the education reform seminar under the topic of “Learning for Life and Work”, organized by the  Quality Learning Foundation (QLF) on May 10, 2013.

Ms. Kessara Amornvuthivorn, Innovative Education Manager of Kenan Institute Asia, cited a US model of Career Technical Education (CTE) as an effective education system that can lead to sustainable social and economic development.

In her presentation on “Career Academies: A Case Study of the United States of America”, Ms. Kessara said CTE has operated in the US for more than 40 years, and has become popular in many other countries. It emphasizes multi-sectoral partnership with many stakeholders, including employers from both the public and private sectors, education institutions, training institutes and communities, who come together for education management and development planning.

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Ms. Kessara noted that the program is a model for multi-sectoral partnerships in education development. This means that education is not left under the sole responsibility of the state or any single party, but requires cooperation between every sector that is involved. The private sector is responsible for transferring powerful knowledge and skills to education institutions.  Each stakeholder also participates in setting directions for the education system that focus not only on working skills, but also on attitudes of  students as social citizens who recognize the importance of sustainable education.

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“In order to solve the problem of dropouts, which often stems from poverty, it is important to increase motivation for students in vocational education. Strategies to do this should start from Grade 7, by increasing students’ awareness of the relationship between career and school, building inspiration for students, getting them to understand the career opportunities of each education field, as well as how education can generate income for them, or if they become a business operator or farm owner, what skills they need to increase their income and productivity. This knowledge will boost students’ interests in vocational education. It also requires assistance from the business sector which can participate in setting education directions, curriculum development, teachers training, and also evaluation and certification of the students’ skills. The multi-sectoral partnership in policy making, and strategic planning of education reform will help the country to move in the right direction.”

Ms.Jill Lai, Senior Education Officer, the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in Thailand, said that technological and vocational education in Taiwan has been closely connected to the country’s economic development since the 1960s, when Taiwan had expanded import-export businesses and shifted its economy to more capital and technology intensive industries. During that time, the Taiwanese government also started to improve industrial vocational education.

Ms Lai discussed the model education system in Taiwan which consisted of nine years of compulsory education. After that those who cannot continue to general high schools, will have alternatives to enter vocational education from Grade 10. Choices of vocational curriculums are provided for students at different levels, including Senior Vocational High Schools, Junior Colleges, and Technological and Vocational education (TVE) universities.

For students from disadvantaged families, there is a special curriculum called TVE High School Cooperative Work Experience Education, which offer a chance for students to study half-time and work half-time.  Under this system, students from poor families do not have to pay for tuition, while also being able to generate income to support their families.

Students who enter this TVE High School Cooperative Work Experience Education can choose between two models. The first model is to study for three months in school and work in an internship for another three months, for a three year period. The schools will sign contracts with a variety of businesses to define the rights and obligations of the students. The business operators are also required to offer appropriate payment as determined by the Ministry of Education. During the internship, students will be rotated in different business organisations to practice different occupational skills.

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The second model is to study for the first two years in schools, and then do an  internship in the third year. The students will decide on their own which models are suitable for them.

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Citing the ratio of students in general education to those in vocational education, Ms. Lai said from the 1970s, the number of students in vocational education was usually higher than for those in general high schools. This also resulted from an increase of vocational education institutions in the country.  The number of students in all levels of vocational education was higher in private institutions than in public institutions.

Ms. Lai said one of the advantages of Taiwan’s education system was that all students enrolled in vocational high schools can get free tuition both in public and private institutions, as the government will subsidize them. In the future this policy will also be extended to general high school education.

She explained further that the government has emphasized vocational education because Taiwan has been moving towards economic development and the expansion of technological-intensive industries which require a lot of skilled labour.

“The fast economic growth of Taiwan has resulted from our serious investment on education, with great contributions from universities of science and technology in research on vocational skills development. One more important thing is a partnership between education institutions and business sector which play vital roles in human resources development, with support from the government.”

Related news: Vocational education a ‘key’ to curriculum reform

Posted by QLF

Quality Learning Foundation (QLF), a new state agency created under the Prime Minister’s leadership and regulated from the Prime Minister’s Office. It seeks the Promotion of a Learning Society and the raised quality of Youth and Children Education and seeks to take new initiatives in the Thai education system, encourage education reform and accelerate quality learning.