Bangkok (Thailand) : The Office of the Vocational Education Commission (Ovec) is planning to help public and private vocational schools struggling with material and personnel shortages to prevent them shutting down. Ovec secretary-general Suthep Chittayawong said the move is part of the new education minister’s policy to work on schools considered to be in “critical” condition nationwide within five years.
“Critical” condition means they are struggling with shortages of teachers and instructional materials and their buildings and facilities need extensive renovation or urgent replacement.
“If Ovec does not step in and provide staff and instructional materials that we provide to public vocational schools, we are heading in the direction where many private vocational schools will become sub-standard colleges,” he said.
Mr Suthep said enrollments at some private colleges have gone from student rolls in the thousands to a few hundred in recent years because vocational students these days prefer to study in better-equipped public colleges rather than private ones. According to Ovec, there are 889 vocational schools nationwide — 425 public colleges and 464 private ones. More than 350, or about 59% of the private vocational schools are in critical condition and have fewer than 500 students.
Under the plan, personnel and educational resources will be shared between public and private schools in the same area, to help private ones achieve quality and standards to match public colleges. Some private technical colleges may have to turn into specialized schools with enhanced coverage of certain subjects such as marketing and accounting to improve their chances of survival, Mr Suthep added.
The Bureau of Vocational Education Research & Development plans to analyses the problems at individual private vocational colleges to enhance their teaching quality.
Mr Suthep said his long-term goal is to bring all training programmes of private vocational colleges up to the same standard as state-run vocational schools. Meanwhile, Ovec is also considering boosting annual funding for 189 small-size public vocational schools in critical condition with fewer than 500 students, to improve their teaching quality, he said.
Last academic year, about 287,000 students enrolled in private vocational schools, compared with over 670,000 students in public vocational schools. Last year, students and teachers in 464 private vocational schools, which were under the supervision Office of the Private Education Commission, were transferred to come under OVEC via Section 44 of the interim charter.
The move to have all public and private vocational schools under the supervision of one agency aimed to improve the quality of vocational education in the country, and ensure their teaching programmes and standards move in the same direction. The move comes as the government has been encouraging student enrolments in vocational education to better suit the needs of the job market.
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