Occupational orientation education (O.O.E.) in high schools: Problems and solutions

Abstract. Occupational orientation education (OOE) for high school students is a real concern of society. Education Law (2005) and several other studies have shown the important role and the position of OOE in high school curriculums. However, the execution of OOE in high schools still faces different problems, such as time allocated for OOE, training of OOE teachers, contents of the subjects and teaching methods, awareness of OOE by students and teachers, school facilities for OOE, etc. To overcome the aforementioned problems, the author of this paper has proposed some solutions including (1) improving the management of OOE in high schools, (2) building up a good team of OOE teaching and managing staff, (3) innovating the contents and approaches of teaching OOE, and (4) improving the school facilities for OOE by making good use of the school facilities and resources available at localities.

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JOURNAL OF SCIENCE OF HNUE 2011, Vol. 56, N◦. 1, pp. 93-100 OCCUPATIONAL ORIENTATION EDUCATION (O.O.E.) IN HIGH SCHOOLS: PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS Ho Van Thong Dong Thap Province’s Education and Training Department E-mail: hvthong.dongthap@moed.edu.vn Abstract. Occupational orientation education (OOE) for high school stu- dents is a real concern of society. Education Law (2005) and several other studies have shown the important role and the position of OOE in high school curriculums. However, the execution of OOE in high schools still faces different problems, such as time allocated for OOE, training of OOE teachers, contents of the subjects and teaching methods, awareness of OOE by students and teachers, school facilities for OOE, etc. To overcome the aforementioned problems, the author of this paper has proposed some solutions including (1) improving the management of OOE in high schools, (2) building up a good team of OOE teaching and managing staff, (3) innovating the contents and approaches of teaching OOE, and (4) improving the school facilities for OOE by making good use of the school facilities and resources available at localities. Keywords: O.O.E, occupational orientation 1. Introduction Document of the Vietnam Communist Partys 9th Congress (2001) underscored the important role of Occupational Orientation Education (OOE): implementing the policy: learning is accompanied by practice, education goes with labour and produc- tion, school education must be close to social issues. It is necessary to highly value O.O.E. and the streaming of high school students, preparing the teenagers for suit- able professions based on the change of economic structures of the whole country as well as in each locality [1]. As for the Education Law (2005), OOE is a part of the comprehensive high school education curricula. Actually, in the current curriculum of high school edu- cation, OOE is introduced from grades 9-12 with various topics for the purposes of helping students develop a good idea of and the right attitude toward professions and labour; get a general understanding of assignments of work in society, the struc- ture of National Economy, the countrys economic growth, familiar with major and 93 Ho Van Thong fundamental jobs and sections, traditional professions of their localities; form and develop interest and occupational ability. Some recent studies show that schools have the greatest influence on poten- tial aspects and occupational orientation of high school students. The properties, abilities or core capacities of occupational potentials depend very much on OOE. OOE will help individuals realize the true values of occupations and find happi- ness when they heartedly dedicate all their spirit and strength to such professions. Therefore, OOE really needs the synchronous involvement of several social sections, not excluding the role of high schools. 2. Content 2.1. Contents of research 2.1.1. Urgency of the research of OOE In reality, the launching of OOE programs in Vietnam still has several prob- lems. Some of the major ones are as follows. - The Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam (MOET) includes O.O.E. in high schools with extra activities. Before the 2008-2009 school-year, there were 27 OOE lessons/ school year/ class [2]. When Document No. 7475/BGDT-GDTrH was issued on the 15 of August, 2008 it was implemented, the number of OOE lessons fell down to 9 lessons/ school year/ class [3]. With such limited time, it has been impossible to convey all the contents of the OOE book written by MOET. Also, it has been very hard for students to do a variety of activities such as survey, infor- mation processing, information exchanging, problem solving, visiting to designated places, etc. The teachers do not have the chance to arouse the students interest or instruct them to search for necessary information for themselves in terms of occupa- tion and training institutions. Hence, it is impossible to help students to be active in choosing a suitable future occupation for themselves. - As for high schools, not enough attention has been paid to OOE activities. A survey shows that 100% of high schools dont have officials and teachers specializing in OOE (or Careers Advice Officers). For these reasons, when assigned to provide OOE training to students, the teachers do not only have the necessary knowledge of OOE but they are also confused about both organization and teaching methods. The weaknesses in OOE at high schools can also indicate that most schools havent had the programmes and contents of the concerned activities. OOE is just considered as an extra lesson for 12th graders when they are beginning to prepare documents to apply for university/college entrance examinations. Regulations or instructions on how to implement the contents, programmes and more importantly the inspection of OOE has not been implemented sufficiently and regularly. 94 Occupational orientation education (O.O.E.) in high schools: problems and solutions 2.1.2. Survey of the real situation of O.O.E. in High Schools To evaluate the real situation of OOE at 40 high schools in the Mekong Delta, we sent 830 questionnaires, of which 500 were for the students, 300 to teachers and 30 to school leaders. The questions are closely related to OOE activities. After col- lecting and compilating the data in September 2009, we came to a general conclusion as follows: - Awareness of OOE activity. Of the 500 questionnaires sent to students, 442 (88.4%) of them said OOE at schools over the past time was just an extra activity. The number of students knowing about the jobs in their areas was small - only 387 of them (77.4%). We asked what form of OOE was most effective now, most of them - 420 opinions (84%) they got information via books and newspapers and others. As for the OOE consulting work, 472 of them (94.4%) said their schools didnt have OOE consulting offices. It indicated that OOE activity at high schools was not well-organized, so the students couldnt get access to the contents of this activity. The conclusion was also made based on our survey that got opinions of managing officials, teachers and students about the organization of OOE in schools. 631/830 opinions (76.02%) said the activity was organized in school only once in each semester. Table 1. Students awareness of O.O.E (number of questionnaires: 500) Contents of survey No. of opinions Percentage (%) - A school subject 00 0 - An extra activity 442 88.4 - An essential activity 18 3.6 - Not an essential activity 40 8.0 Total 500 100.0 - Teachers and School Leaders. Teachers and school leaders have direct influ- ences on potential aspects and occupational orientation of students. However, their awareness as well as attitude towards O.O.E. activity in schools is not sufficient. As many as 192 out of 330 (57%) of the teachers say OOE was not important in the past. It was obvious that most of the high schools in the region didnt have an organization structure, regulations, or even plans for OOE activities as a real activity in schools. Insufficient attention was paid to inpection and direction. Up to 284 out of 300 teachers (95%) said schools did not inspect this activity and 16 out of 300 teachers (5%) said the inspection is just conducted once in a while. Up to 116 opinions (35%) said OOE is a knowledge unit in high school education. Yet the OOE contents just focus mainly on occupational Orientation Consulting work. - Regarding the facilities for OOE activity: 809 opinions (97.5%) of school leaders, teachers and students said schools didnt have the facilities for this activity. 95 Ho Van Thong Table 2. Teachers & schools leaders’ awareness of the importance of OOE (number of questionnaires: 330) Level of Awareness Or. No. Contents Very Important No effect Not important on students important No. % No. % No. % No. % 01 - OOE is a unit of knowledge in high school curriculum 70 21 72 22 100 30 88 27 02 - Creating oppor- tunities for high school students to choose jobs in a scientific and ap- propriate way 91 28 51 15 92 28 96 29 03 - OOE is edu- cational for high school students 42 13 100 30 86 26 102 31 04 - Influences of OOE on choosing jobs 53 16 89 27 98 30 90 27 The table indicates that the awareness of school leaders is limited because up to 57% of them said OOE did not have an influence on and was not important to high school students. Some even said students could still choose jobs without OOE. Table 3: Purposes of O.O.E. in High Schools (number of survey ballots sent: 330) Contents of OOE No. of Opinions Percentage (%) - Introducing some jobs in local areas, in society 2 0.7 - Providing occupational orientation advice 277 83.9 - instructing students to choose future occupa- tions based on their strengths 43 13.0 - Creating opportunities to help students to be placed in suitable jobs 8 2.4 2.2. Suggestions To make sure OOE at high school complies with the leading of the Party and policies of the State, OOE activities need strong basic measures in the new stage. Based on the real situation and problems mentioned above, we suggest some measures to improve the effectiveness of OOE as in following: 96 Occupational orientation education (O.O.E.) in high schools: problems and solutions 2.2.1. Strengthening the OOE management responsibilities In addition to the management function and responsibility in the school in general, the heads of the schools need to make specific plans to deal with OOE, and these plans must be included in the school curriculum to be passed at school board meetings at the beginning of each school year. Specific activities are planned based on the contents of the school books. Plans are to be made to send teachers on training courses in OOE, to introduce all the relevant regulations on this activity. Short-term and long-term plans to be made about the staffing of specialized officials in schools. Based on the documents is- sued by the Ministry of Education and Training/MOET, the schools need to quickly make clear regulations on occupational orientation education/OOE in such a way that is suitable to the situation of each school and local area. In the inspection of the regulation compliance, teachers must also be inspected for their OOE teaching. At present, OOE programs have been launched and implemented on a large scale in high schools although it is considered as a part of the education contents. However, the teachers OOE teaching is not particularly done by grading on a monthly basis, so it is still hard to get accurate evaluations of OOE results. Therefore, schools need measures to make records in combination with weekly reviewing meetings in each class to grade students. To strengthen the organization, management and direction of OOE work, the heads of schools need to: + Establish occupational orientation (O.O.) Board and strengthen its activi- ties; + Improve the planning of OO; + Strengthen direction of specialized activities, organize OO activities; + Strengthen inspection, reviewing and evaluation of OO work; It is important to build an organization and management structure and im- plement OOE activities in schools in a synchronous way; including the heads of the schools, OO boards, teachers in charge of classes, teachers of subjects (especially teachers in charge of technical training), Youth Union Organizations, Student Par- ent Teacher Association, and other social forces representatives. It is necessary to issue regulations on specific tasks for officials, with central direction focused on the building of the plan of OOE for each unit but it is necessary to reach the final goal of providing students with essential knowledge of technology and engineering, helping them develop the ability to work in society, and ensuring the orientation for students to enter suitable jobs and work in every field of the national economy. 2.2.2. Establishing the teaching staff, people in charge of OOE activities The second conference of the Partys Central Steering Committees 3rd term said, The teaching staff play the pivotal role in the quality of education and are honoured by the society [4]. To meeting growing needs of OOE in the coming 97 Ho Van Thong time, we need teaching staff with good conduct, in-depth specialized knowledge, competence in teaching and OO and especially with excellent practical skills. Now, schools dont have specialized OO teachers. They have only teachers of other subjects teaching OO and they need real competence and enormous enthusiasm for the career. Therefore, to improve the quality of the teaching staff in charge of OO activity, it is important to do the following: - Conducting the training workshops for the teaching staff in charge of OOE. - Creating and improving conditions for teachers of industrial and agricultural technical training to get involved in the OOE activity and teaching working skills in all schools to manage the learning of the students as well as discover and help gifted students in a practical and effective way. - Cooperating with teachers at vocational training schools to provide OO for students. - Mobilizing artisans to participate in the teaching of OO in traditional jobs in local areas and the country to preserve and improve traditional careers, as well as create a skilled work force for the localities. However, the artisans are usually good at their skills but dont acquire the required teaching methods, so when using this work force, it is necessary to help them to make their teaching effective. - Sending teachers and school leaders on visits to and learn from schools with similar facilities that do OO activities well. - Building a group of free lancers including students parents who work in different jobs and are seen as highly respected and competent as well as having good conduct in their career; former students who are studying at universities, colleges, vocational schools, former students who are successful workers. Especially the former students of the school who are working at facilities in the locality, and those who graduated from the high school who decided to stay in the locality to start their own businesses and are running them successfully. - Providing satisfactory support for O.O. Boards and the people involved. 2.2.3. Improving the content and forms of OOE It is necessary to change the contents and forms of the OOE activities on a monthly basis, with cooperation from teachers of other subjects, teachers in charge of classes and experts or other relevant social forces to be invited. The contents of OO are issued by the MOET but the schools need plans to prepare programs and lessons for OO activities, extra activities based on the hardware of the regulations issued by MOET and the software suitable for the socio-economic development of each local area. - Making plans and assigning teachers in charge of 2 to 3 specialized points. The specialized points assigned to the teachers must be suitable for their strengths, specialized ability or those who are capable of or interested in such specialized points. Good assigning will give teachers opportunities to study and exploit such 98 Occupational orientation education (O.O.E.) in high schools: problems and solutions points to improve the quality of the contents of OO activities. However, schools should also step-by-step set up programmes, prepare documents and materials to teach traditional jobs in the localities. - The contents of OO must result from the objective practical needs: Teaching what is the society and local communities needs for today and the future rather than what the teachers and schools think. Also, when setting up OO programs, it is important to take into consideration the inclusion of essential knowledge to ensure the relationships between what students learn at school and occupational knowledge. Associate Professor Ph.d., Dang Danh Anh said, The notable points in OOE books for 11th graders are that teachers in charge should try to find fundamental information about: + The local labour market through the documents issued by the provincial or municipal Partys Committees, through the provinces or cities long-term socio- economic development plans. + The national labour market through documents issued by the Partys 10th Meeting, the States socio-economic development plans. - Cooperating with Youth Unions to include the contents of OOE in extra activities. Establising extra OOE groups and organizing trips for students to visit production facilities, plants, factories in the local area or visit vocational training institutions providing training that the locality needs. To achieve the expected results and attract students to voluntarily get involved in activities, it is necessary to change the OOE teaching methods as well as forms of OOE. Therefore, to do the OOE teaching well, first, it is necessary to: - Organizing classes to improve technical OOE and labour work teaching meth- ods. - Making big changes in methods of OOE to improve students activeness and creativeness in a way that increases students involvement. - Specialized points prepared by teachers need to be distributed to students to use as manuals and reduce the time they need to write them. It also gives teachers more time to organize more practicing activities. - Forms of organizing OO activities need to be made more various and practical to get out of classroom activity such as organizing clubs where students can get to know about careers while being involved in outdoor activities and field trips. - The Ministry of Education and Training need to increase the amount of time needed to ensure OO activities on a monthly basis (with 3-4 lessons/ week/ class) 2.2.4. Improving facilities & equipment needed for OO activities With meager funding for education, even the equipment used for teaching activities at schools cannot meet the needs of teaching activities, so facilities and equipment for OO activities will make it very hard for the people involved. To make it possible for OO activities to be implemented, first, it is important to set up an 99 Ho Van Thong office for OO and career consulting. Depending on the conditions in each school, the scope of such an office can vary, but at least there must be one to introduce, propagate and educate OO to help students: - to have information about the world of careers, about the local and na- tional labour market, about the systems of training institutions, about the needs of occupations for those who want to search and choose jobs. - to measure psychological indices the basis for choosing the right jobs. - to exchange ideas with other individuals and groups of students to find interests, trends, desires as well as wishes, concerns, and questions from students who are choosing careers. - to provide funding for meetings, conferences and visits to relevant places, specialized reports outside the classroom lessons. 3. Conclusion In brief, OOE for high school students is a system of educational measures of families, schools and society, in which, schools play a key role in instructing and preparing the younger generations in the aspects of ideas, psychological matters, awareness and skills so that they can later work in sections and jobs in places where the society needs development, and it is also suitable for their personal interest and ability. In that sense, OOE can ensure maximum benefits for individuals and so- ciety; exploit and use all the abilities, potentials and strengths of each individual in their careers and all through their lives and also the appropriate exploitation of labour force in the societys economic development. If the groups of measu
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