In VET programmes with a low enrolment rate the market for textbooks and other learning materials is too small to be of interest to publishers. Therefore, students have to rely on other sources (their notes, teacher’s handouts, and the internet). To counter this, the education ministry has been systematically part financing the preparation of learning materials from budgetary funds for a number of years.
The joint financing is based on an annual overview of the needs for VET learning materials, prepared by the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for VET (CPI). CPI coordinates the preparation of new learning materials, in cooperation with publishers selected by public tender. The government funds authors, while the selected publisher takes care of editing, printing and distribution. Up to 10 titles can be prepared yearly, depending on the volume and complexity of the content.
The work is carefully planned to make the most of the public funds. CPI started systematic reviews of the learning material coverage in 2013; the first was for the construction and geodesy field, which has traditionally lacked relevant textbooks. A survey among professional module teachers was conducted to determine both the needs for new learning materials and teachers who might draft them. The expressed interest was high; resulting in the five new textbooks titles in this field in 2014-18.
Other fields were also examined: electrical engineering and computing, forestry, media, catering and tourism. CPI will review more fields in the future, so that a system for preparing textbooks will be established, responding to the real needs for learning materials.
Preparing learning materials for professional modules means creating authentic professional literature tailored to young readers. This is a demanding task because of a general shortage of professional literature in the Slovene language in some fields of expertise.
Using ICT to create open learning sources is another challenge. E-learning materials offer the possibility of using multimedia elements and interactive tasks, which can complement the learning materials for VET very well, especially if they are organised in the form of learning units that arise from a real working situation, connecting practical skills, theoretical knowledge and key competences. A combination of classic paper and e-learning materials seems the right solution for supporting effective learning.