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Estonia: parents and teachers prefer general secondary education for students

The results of a study carried out in general education schools in spring 2018 indicate that learners and their parents prefer general over vocational education and training. Vocational education is not an attractive enough option for young people. Teachers working at general education schools also prefer learners continuing their studies at general secondary schools and universities.

 

The aim of the study, conducted by the Ministry of Education and Research, was to get an overview of what kind of contact eighth and 11th grade students, parents, and teachers in general education schools have had with vocational education, and to see what are their attitudes and factors affecting further studies.

The results show that the preferences for further studies are shaped quite early and permanently. Most eighth grade students ([1]) want to continue their studies in upper secondary schools; only 12% of students have decided to continue in vocational education schools. The main reason is the wish to progress to higher education after graduation.

As regards career choice, only a third of young people are certain about their future profession or specialty. Grade 8 learners consider the likelihood of earning a good salary most important when discussing their education pathways. They also consider it important that the content of the future work match their personality and values. For grade 11 students the most important factor is the interest in the field and subjects.

Most parents recommend their children to continue their studies at upper secondary general education; only 14% recommend vocational education. Parents have low awareness of the opportunities of vocational education, relatively critical attitudes towards the future perspectives of graduates from vocational schools, and the opinion that basic school graduates are not yet capable of making more specific professional choices. Parents with good knowledge of vocational education are much more likely to recommend that their children continue studies at vocational school.

Increasing the popularity of vocational education has been an important national goal for a long time, but it has not been regarded as important at general education schools. Teachers and parents have a significant role in shaping the attitudes and future studies of students. Teachers can also help learners know more about vocational education when making conscious choices.

The data was collected through an online survey. About 85% of all the general education schools, more than 60% of eighth and 10th grade learners, 17 000 parents of basic school learners, and more than 40% of teachers participated in the survey.

 

(1) There are nine grades at basic school level, so the students who participated in the survey had one year until graduating from basic school.

 

Read more:

Survey on the reputation of vocational education among students, teachers, and parents of general education schools (in Estonian)