Technical and vocational training has received renewed attention by donors after a strong focus on general education in the 1990s. The author focuses on the specific Cambodian context. In Cambodia the formal vocational education (VE) component is very weak. Only 0.7% of the country’s labour force comes from publicly-provided VE institutes. There’s a widening skills gap in the country’s two main economic sectors, garment industry and tourism. Its post-conflict society counts a large number of vulnerable youth, who dropped out of formal education and lack supporting family structures.
In a successful VE model should not only focus on employability, but also on social and psychological needs. Hsuan stresses the need to empower students, working on their confidence, critical citizenship, moral values, identity and learning attitude. He suggests a three-tier approach to create such an empowering learning environment.
It’s a strong article that compares and generalizes the approaches of 9 NGOs active in VE in Cambodia. It proposes a valuable model of how vocational education (not vocational training) could be strenghtened and moved beyond the sole focus on employable skills, taking into account the post-conflict and cultural background of Cambodia. It remains to be seen though, whether public authorities share the underlying vision that all students should be educated to empowered and critical citizens, regardless whether they are in vocational or general education.
* Cheng, I-Hsuan (2010) ‘Case Studies of Integrated Pedagogy in Vocational Education: A Three-Tier Approach to Empowering Vulnerable Youth in Urban Cambodia’, International Journal of Educational Development, 30, pp. 438-446.