EDITORIAL: A reform of the vocational school is necessary


While survey results in recent years have indicated that parents are starting to prioritize practical skills over diplomas, the number of vocational secondary school enrollments appears to contradict the apparent change. The Taipei Hours yesterday reported that the number of students in vocational high schools has not only fallen by 160,000 since 2009, but is expected to be exceeded for the first time in the summer semester by enrollment in regular high schools.

While the country’s low birth rate is a major factor in the overall decline in the number of high school students, the decline in the number of vocational students accounted for 75.3% of the total decline, the report showed, despite the made vocational schools free since 2014.

This highlights the persistent problem where parents prioritize academic achievement and college degrees over practical skills to the point where students attend college out of obligation and college graduates are unable to find jobs – or end up doing job jobs. subordinate office. Meanwhile, industries are facing a severe shortage of skilled workers.

Deep-rooted cultural norms dictate that “successful” students attend regular high schools, while those who perform poorly end up in vocational schools, regardless of the student’s interests.

Although surveys conducted in 2017 and 2018 by Professor Huang Kun-huei’s Education Foundation showed that a much higher number of parents preferred their child to attend high school or vocational college, and that two-thirds of respondents disagreed that higher academic qualifications necessarily lead to better career advancement, enrollment figures show otherwise.

Private School Educators ‘Union President Yu Jung-hui (尤榮輝) said that families’ overemphasis on academic success played a role in declining vocational high school enrollment , but private vocational schools have also been hit by scandals and management.

Desperate for students, vocational schools have invested their resources in training students for fashionable industries, such as fashion, animation and design, without considering the needs of the real world – which prompted the government to prohibit them from opening new performing arts programs for the next school year. , because the number of students would over-saturate the Taiwanese market.

However, the measure does not solve any problem as vocational schools must always prioritize survival over meeting industry demand. Can they survive and continue to provide quality education?

Misguided past educational reforms have led to the current monster of a system, where even vocational school students face pressure to study at a university, when they should prepare to enter the workforce after graduation. ‘graduation.

Even more alarmingly, Yu adds that the quality of faculty and professional training at vocational universities, attended mainly by vocational high school graduates, is “not as related to industry” as that of ordinary universities.

It’s no surprise that parents are reluctant to send their children down this route.

Government officials can promote vocational education as much as they want, but something more drastic needs to be done instead of waiting for the herd to dissipate as these schools are closing due to lack of enrollment.

This can happen unevenly across disciplines and geographic location, and may put some students at a disadvantage in terms of their educational opportunities.

The education professionals who have spoken out on this issue all have suggestions worth listening to, and it is time to get serious about it. Lack of skilled workers is a critical issue and poll results show people recognize the problem, but an environment conducive to change is needed for this to happen.

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