Year: 2018

Author: Aktaruzzaman, Md, Shamim, Md Rashedul Huq

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Integrating vocational components with academic programmes appears to be a promising approach for developing countries. In Bangladesh, traditional curriculum is either obsolete or irrelevant to the world of work, and produce narrowly specialised graduates with limited future options, thus increases the issue of not just the unemployed educated but also the higher-impact problem of the unemployable educated. Moreover, two-third of high school students in Bangladesh leave school without completing their secondary school and country’s higher education system (Bachelor entry) can accommodate less than 10 percent of aspirant students. This large portion of school leavers could only be reached through open and distance learning (ODL). To address these issues this paper argues for work integrated curriculum in the secondary and higher secondary education through the introduction of vocational elements in ODL. This paper also describes an innovative theoretical framework, Adapting Structuration Theory In Distance Education (ASTIDE), conceptualised as part of a broader study, to address the underlying issues and to generate propositions.
There is a dearth of research in the area of integrating vocational and general education in ODL in developing countries. This paper outlines a study exploring the present scenario and assessing the need for integrating vocational elements at the secondary and higher secondary distance education curricula in Bangladesh. The research study involved case studies on the participants of three ODL institutions in Australia, Bangladesh and the UK. This paper reports on part of the study that was conducted to examine perception of the community and experts towards distance education in Bangladesh.
Findings from four focus group discussions and expert group interview conducted in Bangladesh with students, teachers, informed public members and experts suggest a significant level of concern regarding the ongoing distance education program offered at Bangladesh Open University including job prospects, social value, program quality and recognition of degrees. A major theme that emerged was the importance of integration of vocational elements to academic curricula in secondary and higher secondary levels of education in Bangladesh. Participants emphasised that the integrated system in ODL provides an opportunity to reach the large students community with transferrable skills while keeping them more engaged in learning and broadening their future academic options. Therefore, the educationists and policy makers of developing countries need to consider short term and long term plans to put an integrated system into practice, to hopefully assist communities to become better equipped to deal with 21st century issues.