KUALA LUMPUR: — People have the perception that students in vocational schools are academically inferior compared to students in other secondary schools.
Many believe that vocational schools only focus on hands-on skills whereas regular secondary schools pave the path for tertiary education in universities.
However, the government’s move to transform vocational schools into vocational colleges is seen as an attempt to elevate the status of the students in vocational schools.
Certificate-level courses at vocational schools will be replaced by diploma-level courses in vocational colleges.
Kolej Ekonomi Rumah Tangga (ERT) in Setapak is one of the 14 vocational schools nationwide that has been picked for the pilot project where vocational secondary schools will be transformed into vocational colleges.
From School to College:
ERT Setapak Director, Norhana Mustapha believes that being in vocational schools is not a piece of cake for students.
A paradigm shift is needed to discard the stigma that hovers over vocational schools. People have the perception that vocational schools are only for those who are not good in academics. This perception has to change.
“The mindset of the people has to change and facilities and courses in vocational colleges have to be on par with other colleges,” Norhana informs Bernama.
However, changing the perception of the public is not an easy task.
Norhana admits that a change in perception can only happen over a period of time. People’s mindset will only change when vocational colleges produce brilliant students.
“Our mission is to ensure Kolej ERT Setapak is on par with other colleges in the country,” she says.
Kolej ERT Setapak offers hospitality courses including culinary skills and fashion design where every student is required to complete four years of education before he/she can obtain a diploma in the respective field.
“We hope that through this transformation, 70 per cent of the graduates will be able to find employment, 20 per cent of the graduates can go for further studies and 10 per cent of the students will be able to start their own business,” says Norhanah.
From next year, Kolej ERT Setapak will offer two more courses. They are child care and computer networking and 250 students can get admitted into these courses.
The Setapak vocational school was set up in 1975 to provide skills training for students who were not strong in academics.
Even if students are not able to perform well in academics, there is no reason for them to feel inferior, says Norhana.
“Parents should understand that not every child is good in academics. If a kid is not good in academics, he may be good in something else. If a child pursues vocational studies, it does not mean that he/she is not exposed to the typical academic subjects,” she explains.
There are six academic subjects in the vocational college which students are required to take and pass. They are Bahasa Melayu, Mathematics, Science, Religion, English and History.
“Even if they have exceptional skills but fail to pass their core subjects, they will not be able to get their diploma,” she says.
by Kurniawati Kamarudin.
Read more @ http://education.bernama.com/index.php?sid=news_content&id=709108