What to choose, a gymnasium or vocational-technical high school Not so long ago, the majority of 9th-grade primary school students in North Macedonia were choosing to continue their secondary education in a gymnasium instead of opting for vocational-technical schools. Now, only 4 days after the start of the high school enrollment, it is obvious that the things are slowly changing. Some of the vocational-technical schools are seeing the best enrollment rates in the last decade, and some gymnasiums, for the first time in years, didn’t fill in all of the vacancies in the first enrollment period. Such is the case with the Orce Nikolov gymnasium, where there are vacancies for 20 more students.
What are the reasons for the increased interest in the vocational secondary education? According to the experience, it is due to the good management skills and the engagement of the professors, but also to the campaign “Study Smarter, Work Like an Expert” started this year by the Ministry of Education and Science, for the introduction of the dual education. The students are offered guaranteed employment after finishing high school, they are offered scholarships and direct training in various companies, which makes this type of education more attractive.
Aleksandar Aleksovski is a Biology professor at the Marija Kiri Sklodovska (Marie Curie Skłodowska) High School. He was part of the team of professors who worked on attracting more students. The effort bore results, so out of 306 vacancies, in the first enrollment period, 236 students enrolled, which is the best success rate the school has managed to achieve in the last decade. In the second enrollment period, which is scheduled to start in two days, there are vacancies for only 70 students.
“We took to the task seriously, the whole team and the collective. We set goals for ourselves, we had a meeting in February. In a short time, we managed to enter 70 elementary schools with an online presentation by Teams, at homeroom classes. When you explain to the kids nicely what is on offer, a different picture is painted. The pupil means nothing if I tell him what he will be learning. But when I ask him “What then, where will you be working, where you will be heading?” and everything stops there. What I gave accent to most was where they could be working. This was of key importance. I think that with a nice plan, success can be achieved. Each day we posted on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook with the intent of presenting better to students what is it they will learn at our school,” Aleksovski says.
At most of the vocations in North Macedonia, the concept of dual education is implemented and is carried out in partnership between the schools and the local companies. This will mean that the accent will be given to practical activities for the students directly at the job post and there will be less theory. There are dual classes at Dimitar Vlahov school. The Director Lidija Andonovska said that she is pleased with this year’s progress.
“Most of the students enrolled in the personal service sector – cosmetic care, hairdressers, and legs and arms beauticians. There is a smaller interest in the graphic arts. In total, we enrolled 120 students in all sectors. Last year, during three enrollment periods, we had 150 students and now during the first enrollment period, we enrolled 120 students. The “Study Smarter, Work Like an Expert” campaign is playing a major role during the selection of a future profession. Each student that enrolls in the dual classroom will receive a scholarship in the amount of 3,500 MKD for a period of 9 months. I consider that even in elementary education there should be a professional orientation since many pupils don’t know where to go further so their affinities will have to be followed. regarding the choice of school, I consider that the parents are playing a prominent role and certainly it is a safe environment for the students – said Director Andonovska.