Education in Austria

Education is always essential regarding the success of the social and economic future of a country, and education in Austria is no exception. The Republic of Austria has a free and public school system, and nine years of education are mandatory throughout the nation from the ages of six to fifteen, or first to ninth grade.

In Austria, there are multiple levels of education for citizens of all ages. When it comes to children ranging from the ages of zero to six, these students are taken care of in nurseries called Kinderkrippen. Kindergarteners range from the ages of three to six years old, and very young children that are usually around the age of two are looked after in small groups by day parents called Tagesmütter, and are found mostly in smaller towns and rural areas.

The first four years of schooling is completed at primary schools called Volksschule or Grundschule. From the age of ten, children are able to attend a junior high school or a secondary school called Hauptschule or Cooperative Mittelschule. Once children have entered into ninth grade at the ages of 14 or 15, they will be schooled at a polytechinical school called a Polytechnische Schule, which will ultimately prepare students for vocational orientation, an apprenticeship or even for more schooling.

Education in Austria does not stop at grade nine, however. There are many apprenticeships that students can pursue, and about 250 apprenticeship training courses exist that last between three and four years. Their occupation is learned on the job and at the school simultaneously. These students will then go on to take a final exam and become either a skilled technician or craftsman.

There are also Austrian universities and colleges that a citizen can attend, including adults. The Matura is a graduation examination that is a prerequisite for higher education in the nation.

While the standard of education in Austria may not exactly be on par with that of the United Kingdom or the United States, those considering relocating to Austria can still expect for their children to receive a sound education. Overall, the quality of education in Austria is quite good, as state schools provide a schooling that is very high in comparison to other educational systems within Europe.

Sara Venusti

Photo: Google

Vocational education is defined as a procedural process of instruction that prepares the students for skilled work. The skills taught a range from various aspects of industrial work to skilled craftsmanship to handicrafts, among other things.

Vocational education has become quite popular in developing countries because of its affordability and expedited completion. This approach also focuses on teaching workplace skills, so the education provided, therefore, gives a more immediate monetary return. The financial incentive is furthered by the fact that vocational education is usually of a shorter duration than formal education.

The market for skilled labor is made lucrative by offshore manufacturing industries in developing countries. The market for handicraft products from Asian and Latin American countries is also becoming popular in the West, opening up job avenues for skilled artisans.

The vast potential of vocational, skill-based training has become an exceedingly prevalent tool in the rehabilitation of refugees as well. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has initiated many programs for vocational education in conflict areas, such as Palestine, Yemen and Myanmar, as well as in countries hosting large numbers of refugee populations.

As in many other aspects of life, vocational education is also plagued with gender inequality. A multitude of UNHCR vocational programs are aimed at women to teach them marketable, employable skills to ensure their self-reliance. However, these goals are hindered by the social stigma surrounding female education and employment.

In many regions, the widely accepted notion is that vocational education equates to hard, manual labor and should, therefore, be reserved for men. In an analysis of Yemeni vocational education, early marriage was identified as one of the main reasons for the low enrollment rate for women. Another common denominator is the traditional attitude that men are supposed to be the “breadwinners” of the household, which leads to the exclusion of women from any job training. Moreover, the training curricula for certain fields exclude women in their specificity as well.

The issues plaguing vocational education are in many ways similar to those facing female education in general. However, the former has a direct immediate financial motivation for women that is potentially more prone to be heeded by society. In an attempt to use this to the advantage of women, the World Bank is focusing on decentralizing training centers. By establishing smaller, more community-focused education centers, the needs of the labor market in the particular region can be better realized, which in turn supplies a higher likelihood of employment and income for the women.

The incentive for increased household income also needs to be supplemented with pacifying the stigma against female employment. The UNHCR has initiated programs in India specifically aimed at women that combine computer and language training with more socially acceptable trades for women, such as handicrafts. The program also focuses on setting up home production centers for the women so that they may work there as opposed to traditional workplaces. These attempts have the objective of empowering women while accommodating social norms as well.

The problems that women face in acquiring a vocational education stem from the traditions of a male-dominated society. The objective of female empowerment continues to be compromised by gender inequality. With the current economic state of the world coupled with the refugee crisis in many developing nations, the gender gap for technical training and employment for women needs to be bridged now more than ever.

Atifah Safi

Sources: ILO, UNHCR, IADB, World Bank
Photo: The Conversation

How Private Academies in India Help Reduce Poverty
Being one of the world’s most populated countries, India’s young workforce (age 25 and younger) is roughly double the population of the entire United States. While hundreds of millions of workers can be seen as an incredible resource, it also presents a pressing dilemma. India currently faces a huge problem of unemployment, which becomes more imminent as the young adult population rises.

In the next nine years, India must train 500 million people. To solve this issue, the Indian government has made practical job training a priority. Training centers such as Gras Learning Academy are becoming more popular as the demand for specific skills increases. Since the education offered at institutions such as Gras is so specific, it has a higher job placement rate. Due to this trend, Gras and other private academies are growing in number all over India.

However, Gras not only offers classes in specialized skills such as cellphone repair and computer networking. Academies like Gras offer classes in basic life skills for students from impoverished areas who may not have had the time or ability to attend secondary school. These basic life skills include the importance of punctuality, speaking professionally with managers, and presenting yourself in a well-kept manner.

In many cases, the needs of struggling economies are overshadowed by prescriptive solutions that are often based in theory. However, private academies in India have addressed poverty very practically by understanding the setbacks of the students, the demands of the workforce, and building a bridge from one to the other.

Pete Grapentien

Source : The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal