Education and Home

Models of occupational skills training for senior high school, unemployed adults

A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven - The Philippine Star

Learning to Earn, the 3rd pillar of UNESCO’s 21st Century Education has been part of the educational pattern of upper secondary education of Europe, USA and Australia. With licensed expert instructors and fully equipped work areas provided in these continents, professional occupational training has enabled senior high school graduates – as well as unemployed adults like immigrants – to readily find employment as technicians in construction, ship building, agriculture, health services, tourism, police and military services, etc. In Asian countries, skills training is also given to some extent in upper secondary high school, but the low literacy rates must be raised.

The US farms and the performing arts schools

In 1977, as we were trying to prepare the required Montessori curriculum for our professional high school, I received a US state travel grant to visit technical high schools. The Philadelphia Farm School provided training for Butchery, Kennel Care and Pet Breeding, including Florist Business. The school farm raised cattle, which were butchered and apportioned, packed commercially for sale, and displayed in chillers at the luncheon cafeteria opened to the public.

Arranged for me as well was a visit to the famous High School of Performing Arts in New York City. It was here that the famous Liza Minelli, daughter of Judy Garland, studied dance and voice. Seeing an ensemble of poised teenage students rehearsing for a full symphony orchestra performance was exciting to watch. I also met student ballerinas polishing their steps for the full ballet concert Coppelia. I learned that they usually wear out three pairs of ballet shoes within their six-month preparation.

A visit to the Lincoln School for Professional Talents also in New York enabled me to meet several violin, piano, voice, and dance prodigies from different countries. Of grade school and high school age, they were individually getting or submitting their weekly contracts of academic lessons from their mentors. This schedule provided them sufficient time for their demanding practices. Exams were taken every three weeks.

The Australian cultural travel grant

In 1981 I received the Australian cultural travel grant that allowed me to visit Saul’s Professional High School Farm outside of Sydney, which trained boys and girls in raising sheep, poultry, and pigs. Their instructors were all experts who converted their lesson plans into professional technical books. They frequently won the best prize for their well-tended sheep.

I also visited the Melbourne Viniculture Farm that specialized in raising grapes for Italian and German wines. These wine experts were part of the numerous European migrants who flocked to Australia after World War I. The Philippines has been importing excellent wines produced by the numerous vineyards of Australia.

Australia also pioneered in Distance Education for many families whose huge cattle ranches or 400-acre farms in the outback were not accessible to schools for their children. Thus each federal state has been maintaining full size staff offices in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth. In Melbourne, my tour guide brought me to a four-storey building where teachers who developed and updated curriculum occupied every floor. There were also writers who took care of publishing materials and videos, as well as the full staff who regularly corresponded with the school children living in their remote farms. Each quarter of the year, several would fly to the city center to meet their mentors and take the exams until they receive full credentials for completing Basic Education.

The agro technical high schools in Florence, Saint-Germain-Des-Prés in Paris

As early as 1969, while training at the Bergamo Centro Montessori per Scuola Elementare, I foresaw that we would complete the O.B. Montessori education up to high school. I requested Ambassador Fedele for visits to Italy’s scuola professionale, a term used by Italians for their technical high schools.

In Florence, I visited the Scuola Professionale per Agricola. Large beds of poinsettia plants were already being prepared for the Christmas season. The same schedule was laid out in November for All Souls’ Day. At the Instituto d’Arte di Firenze I observed the Gemology department where students set semi-precious stones for fine jewelries.

When I was elected member of the UNESCO Executive Board in 1986, our Philippine Ambassador del Mundo to France arranged my visit to the farm high school outside Paris in Saint-Germaine-des-Prés. Regular farmers were required to attend 10-month training courses at the senior Agriculture Ecole Secondaire before they could secure loans from the rural bank. Farming has been subsidized by the French government, so the country’s food security has been well-established whether they plant cereals, vegetables, fruit orchards, and ornamental flowers, or raise cattle, sheep, poultry, piggery, and fish.

The world-renowned French cuisine always requires fresh crops every season. Once a week on different days, every French town, including the city of Paris, has market days. Even French housewives demand that they get fresh items in these markets straight from the farms. These include the various regional cheeses and sausages of the various regions of the country.

Raising farmers literacy at the Denmark Folkschule

Early farming history in Denmark started with the folkschule, or folk people’s winter school. It was started by a missionary to increase the basic literacy of farmers. After the planting and harvest season when winter comes, the village farmers were invited to attend cooperative schools where they were not just organized to market the goods free of middlemen but acquire education about the history, literature and language of Denmark. The modern agriculture curriculum for young Danish farmers require their six-month study of the theories of farming technology; after which they are assigned to licensed farms where they work for two years assisting and learning all the facets of farm activities from the farm owner and the treasurer wife. The privilege of free board and lodging includes a monthly honorarium. After this practicum, the young farmers return to school to take up the farm management course so they can run their own farms or take over the farms they inherit from their parents who go on to retirement.

Ecole Culinaire of Paris, Amsterdam and Toronto

The best French culinary training takes place at the famous Ecole Culinaire, the oldest professional ecole secondaire in Paris. Experts in butchery, pastry baking, French cuisine and bartending make up the faculty. A pastry chef showed me his personal course guide made up of fully illustrated recipes. His students were preparing trays of canapés and pastries for an evening cocktail to be given by a private business company. A Filipino male student was preparing the bar for the party.

Carcasses of lamb, pork, and beef were hanging along automatic metal circuits ready to be apportioned in the butchery department. In the ground floor, the simple brasserie restaurant, which could sit 50 walk-in customers, faced the open kitchen where students worked on six ovens. Each one had a leather holster of kitchen tools and knives to prepare various dishes. Ecole Culinaire offers a management course for their graduates who are required to have at least three years of basic culinary experience. These students have the recommendation of their restaurant managers, bosses who allow them the time to finish the advanced course.

In Amsterdam, KLM has two buildings. One trains their regular administrative staff while the other is the KLM Airline Culinary School, an important institution that helps to feed thousands of travelers of different airlines who are making the stopover in Schipol, Amsterdam. To make full use of the state-of-the-art kitchens, it does catering to local banquets including palace affairs. The Dutch queen values their chefs, master cooks on whom she confers awards in formal ceremonies, as is also done in France.

The state-supported John Brown Culinary College in Toronto, Canada partners with and is sponsored by various wine, gas, kitchen equipment and 15 other companies that supply their needs. A complete set of courses in cuisine, wine tasting (sommelier) and bartending, butchery, baking etc. are offered. Even specialized programs are put together for Chinese immigrants who are given a six-month culinary course to set up Chinese eateries or restaurants.

Certified chefs, agronomists, engineers, etc. needed for the K to 12 professional high schools

One basic requirement to set up the last two years of a six-year high school is to have faculty members with a minimum of ten years of experience. Even if the teaching staff have been trained in well-known hotel and culinary schools of California, New York, Switzerland or France, the lack of adequate experience or apprenticeship with executive chefs will not qualify them to direct professional training. It is also necessary for senior high teachers to be professionally certified. This and the professionally equipped laboratory and working restaurant will be the biggest hurdle in putting together a credible senior high school for the K to 12 program.

(For feedback please email at precious.soliven@yahoo.com)

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