Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 10:38
Education Min. wants to break up vocational school diploma mills
Education Minister Jet Bussemaker wants to split large secondary vocational schools into smaller "vocational colleges", to change them from diploma mills into more personal education where the "human dimension" is the norm. For that reason she wants to implement a regulation in which all vocational schools with more than 5 thousand students have to split into smaller parts from next year. The Minister wrote this in a letter to the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, on Thursday. Vocational schools currently have an average of 7 thousands students, with the largest school having 27 thousand students and the smallest one only some 250. Though more and more schools are taking initiatives to organize their teaching in a smaller scale, the Minister feels that it is not yet a matter of course in all institutions. "The human dimension should be the norm in our vocational education. A vocational student should not feel like a number in a big unwieldy organization where he or she walks the halls anonymously. I feel that it is important that when a parent or student enter a school they almost immediately get the feeling: here it is all about expertise in healthcare, technology, or for example creativity", the Minister wrote. "This calls for vocational education with a clear signature. Where students with logically coherent training sit together and have lessons in small groups, with a clear educational profile and where teachers know everyone by name." According to Bussemaker, students perform better when they feel their teachers know, hear and miss them. Talents are better recognized and acknowledged and there is a smaller chance of a student dropping out. A smaller environment also means that students know who to turn to with questions or complaints. The "vocational colleges" will still fall under the original vocational school. A college principal will stand at the head of these colleges and will be responsible for the quality of education, similar to a dean in university education. Schools that can demonstrably prove that they organize their education on a smaller scale will not have to implement the college model. Bussemaker hopes that this measure will encourage more students to opt for vocational education.