update: The Netherlands
Moerkamp & Eva Voncken
Reference to national case
study on NL: MBO/BOL4
1 In most European countries integration of general education and vocational education is an 'hot item', in particular with regard to attractiveness and status of VET. In the Netherlands both routes are separated and covered, since 1996, by different education acts.
In spite, or perhaps thanks to, this separation, vocational education at senior secon-dary level (sbo) is rather successful in the Netherlands: about half of the 16-19 year olds attend this type of education. In particular graduates of the levels 3 and 4 in sbo acquire good positi-ons at the labour market. Perhaps the fact that MBO*) always had a double qualifying function might explain why students (and their parents) consider both general and vocational educa-tion as a good option.
But the comparison of education systems in the partnership also raises a more nega-tive hypotheses: because in the Netherlands education at junior secondary level is not integrated and comprehensive, there is an early selection (at the age of 12-14). At the moment there are no data available in the Netherlands on choices and preferences of students and their parents that could prove or disprove this hypotheses.
New developments in junior secondary education (age 12-16) will even deepen the gap between vocational education at one hand and general education at the other hand. From August 1999, the new VMBO (pre-vocational secondary education) replaces both VBO and MAVO. There will be a choice of four learning pathways: theoretical (MAVO), vocational (available at two levels) and combined theoretical and vocational. The main goal of this operation is to improve the connection between VMBO and secondary vocational education. The new VMBO is regarded as the main route to secondary vocational education. Transfers from VMBO (the theoretical pathway) to secondary general education will be discouraged.
2 Many European countries (Sweden, Norway, France, England) reduced the number of occupational specialisation's in VET. As a consequence they broadened VET. In the Netherlands there still are many VET courses and specialisation's (more than 200). With regard to transfer into higher education and with regard to developments in labour organization and the labour market, experiences with broad vocational educa-tion in other European countries are important for the Netherlands. The question is however, how to design broad vocational education without becoming pre-vocational. Some countries (England, Sweden, Norway) in their national case studies stress the point that VET diplomas should offer opportunities for graduates to enter the labour market. Making VET more pre-vocational instead of vocational might stimulate stu-dents just to use VET as an entry into higher education.
in the Netherlands integration of vocational education and general educa-tion
is not an issue, we would like to stress at this point the importance of
a (re)opening of the discussion with respect to integration.
4 In particular Germany, England, Norway and Sweden have good experiences with new teaching methods in vocational education (project work, integrated learning, ac-tive learning). The national case study of England stressed some disadvantages of modular methods. In the Netherlands traditional modular teaching methods, used in most vocational courses, are also criticised. Many Regional Vocational Colleges started to innovate their programs. In particular innovations as problem based learning and independent learning are more and more applied. With respect to these methods the Netherlands could benefit from the experiences of other European countries, also with regard to the assessment of these new learning and teaching methods.
Secondary vocational education in the Netherlands has three main goals:
qualificati-on for the labour market, qualification for further education
and qualification for citi-zenship and social participation.
*) Under the new qualification structure that came into force in 1997 the new name for mbo is bol-4. The name for secondary vocational education in general is sbo
**) Trudy Moerkamp and Eva Voncken (1999). The Liberal Dimension in Secondary Vocational Education in the Netherlands. Anton Trant (ed.) Reconciling Liberal & Vocational Education. Report of the European Union Leonardo da Vinci Research Project on Promoting the Attractiveness of Vocational Education (PAVE). Dublin, CDU.
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First set up 19/01/2000
Latest update: 19/01/2000
Contact: Sabine Manning