Learner-centred TVET teaching in Asia-Pacific: Reality and way forward

Learner-centred TVET teaching in Asia-Pacific: Reality and way forward

In the context of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) on quality education, one of UNESCO’s priorities is to support a learner-centred approach to technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in Asia and the Pacific. TVET teaching is an essential component of this strategy.

Extensive prior research explores how to develop good TVET systems. While a learner-centred pedagogy is promoted in primary, secondary and higher education systems, there is limited information on how to implement the specificities of this pedagogy in TVET institutions, especially in Asia-Pacific. In order to address this gap and to support the preparation of its 2022-2024 work plan, the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education implemented a study on learner-centred TVET teaching in Asia-Pacific from June to September 2021.

The first part of this study was a literature review of TVET teaching and the learner-centred approach in Europe and Asia-Pacific that demonstrated that a learner-centred approach is based on participation, engagement and autonomy of the learners to support their professional integration. Then the situation in six selected countries (China, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Uzbekistan) was analysed. Each country report followed the same research framework and provided examples of cases and situations corresponding to components and criteria defined in this study for a learner-centred TVET pedagogy.

The concept of the learner-centred TVET teaching method proposed is as follows:

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In order to identify precise learner-centred situations, several indicators, written in terms of behaviours, were allocated to each of the three components of teaching situations, for a total of 25 indicators. The country reports describe the usual practice of TVET teaching corresponding to these indicators. In addition, the six countries shared more than 17 examples of learner-centred teaching situations (please contact UNESCO via the email below to review a presentation of these case studies).

The review of the experience of the learner-centred TVET teaching in the six countries showed that there is no direct correlation between TVET implementation and national parameters, such as the size of the population of the country, its level of centralization, its socio-economic or educational context. The study found that the implementation of the learner-centred approach in the six countries reviewed was hampered by three main factors:

  • Within the six countries surveyed, five of them do not have laws and policies explicitly mentioning, supporting and promoting learner-centred TVET pedagogy.
  • The culture of respect towards teachers limits the autonomy of students, their participation during activities, the expression of feedback on the teaching received and their capacity to decide what and how to learn.
  • The learner-centred pedagogy does not seem to hold significant importance in pre-service teacher training, although it is more actively promoted in the context of in-service teacher training.

But the study identified positive trends pointing towards a learner-centred approach:

  • Future priorities of the TVET system in the six participating countries in the study mention the importance of teacher development and the increasing role of digital technologies in the learning process.
  • All participating countries tend to use curricula that are based on competencies or learning outcomes, although they do so at different levels of implementation. Most of these countries provide a certain degree of autonomy to the TVET institutions to adjust method and content. Thanks to this model and the time spent in companies, students can relate their learning to the reality of their future work.
  • All countries are using various modalities of digital technology for students’ self-learning, as well as knowledge sharing among themselves and interactions between students and teachers.
  • Many initiatives and cases implemented in the TVET institutions demonstrate the motivation of teachers and managers in focusing on students’ needs and knowledge, as well as helping students learn by themselves. This demonstrates the importance of employing not only a top-down approach by way of laws and policies issuing from education ministries, but also a bottom-up approach provided by more autonomy to colleges.

The study concludes by presenting seven proposals to develop of a learner-centred approach:

  1. Supporting national reform of the pedagogy based on the results of pilot projects;
  2. Increasing two-way communication between students and teachers;
  3. Utilising technology in the learning process;
  4. Producing learning materials adapted to a learner-centred method;
  5. Implementing a competency-based learning to support the learner-centred pedagogy;
  6. Integrating transversal and core skills;
  7. Developing teachers’ capacities by employing a learner-centred approach.

UNESCO is working to address these research priorities and needs for technical assistance at national and regional levels. The Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education welcomes questions, comments and suggestions supporting a learner-centred approach to TVET in the region, and in line with SDG4.

Contact: Section for Educational Innovation and Skills Development (EISD), at eisd.bgk@unesco.org


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