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Vocational and technical education in Latin America and China:Historical and comparative perspectives

Fecha:2008/08/04 Autor:Song xia
Introduction
 
 
    Vocational and technical education (VTE) is an important component of educational system both in Latin America and in China. It takes several forms, such as formal, alternative formal, non-formal, informal and so forth. Due partly to the different historical and cultural context, Latin American countries and China have their own characteristics in VTE development patterns. But they have experienced similarly long and rough developmental path in the history of VTE, and face the same challenges to develop VTE in a more constructive way in the near future.
    This paper is composed of three parts.
    The first part is about the history of VTE in Latin American countries, which can be divided into three stages.
    First, before the middle of the nineteenth century, the only way in Latin America to pass on or acquire skills was through apprenticeships.
    Second, from the middle of the nineteenth century to the mid-1960s, technical-related educational contents began to be accepted by systematic and formal education. And at the same time, some separate vocational and technical education centers and institutions started to emerge in Latin America.
    Third, from the 1960s till now, vocational and technical education has become more and more institutionalized, diversified and systematized. And it now both includes pre-employment, job-oriented vocational training and as well post-school non-formal technical education.
    The second part briefly reviews the historic path of Chinese vocational and technical education. In my opinion, VTE in China experienced four different development paths.
    First, the earliest ancient professional school, HongDu Men Xue was established in late Eastern Han Dynasty. And later in Tang, Ming and Qing Dynasty a large number of specialized schools mushroomed. But those kinds of schools seldom focused on science and stressed greatly on liberal arts and humanities.
    Second, the real modern vocational education, which was meantime called “the industrial education”, was brought into from western countries at the late of Qing Dynasty during the period of Westernization Movement (yangwu yundong). But those industrial schools were mostly military-oriented and military-related institutions instead of economy and employment-oriented institutions as that of Latin America. They relied heavily on foreign scientific and technological resources.
    Third, Xinhai Revolution ended the Qing Dynasty and at the same time led to a new era of VTE, which began to adjust itself to economy-oriented education but unfortunately interrupted from now and then by prolonged wars.
    Four, since the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949, the VTE has been walking on a rough road but at a quick pace, especially in recent years. VTE in the new China is all employment-oriented and economic-centered and also reflects the institutionalized, diversified, and systematized characters.
    The third part focuses mainly on the comparative study of vocational and technical education in Latin America and China. They have much in common with each other. But there still exist great differences between them.
    In the end of this paper, I try to draw some conclusions and suggestions for the development of VTE both in Latin America and in China. For instance, Latin American countries and China need to increase investment in education, balance the use of educational budget which is more important and to make both general education and VTE develop more evenly. When Latin American countries and China expand the VTE in response to the fast growing economy, they must pay attention to the moral and spiritual development of humankind at the same time in order to create a harmonious society and a harmonious world as well.
 
Keywords:  vocational and technical education (VTE)    Latin America    China
 
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