What do students think of technical school?

We rarely consult with students in the education sector. Generally, adults design the curriculum, regulations, and training environments, occasionally asking current or former students what should be improved or what impact programs have had on their professional lives.

Although theory and investigation show that this impact is positive, at INET we believe it is also important to ask students what they think. That's why, in the past months, INET has conducted a poll of 1,200 students and teachers from the 2009 national alumni database for secondary technical education, a population which makes up about 15% of the total secondary school population.

We asked students about their careers after leaving technical school, to what extent where they relevant for the actual labor market, whether they continued their studies, and their current employment and income situation, aiming to generate a national conversation about the individual and national returns on investment in education. Based on this and other current studies, INET seeks to analyze ideas and education policy proposals.

62% of students polled evaluated the country's quality of education as good, but mentioned various areas for improvement: 15% mentioned a lack of teacher training; over 7% noted the absence of teachers; 7% referred to a lack of resources like benches, tables, and whiteboards; and close to 8% said that the main problem was the quality of subject matter and the little space for contents related to technology.

The poll also confirmed that since the National Law 26.058 was passed in 2005, INET has managed to institutionalize itself in technical education. For example, more than 54% of those polled had heard of INET, the majority had clear objectives for technical schools, and 63.4% responded that these schools looked to train technicians with high job placement. When they were asked more specifically, 12.4% answered that technical schools should offer specialized technical education, while 19.9% believed that they should facilitate job placement.

Although in many places, technical school is the only form of secondary education available to youth, more than 70% of the students and their parents chose technical schools as their first option. Additionally, 88.9% of graduates responded that technical schools offer an advantage over non-technical schools.

In our poll, we also asked many questions about education and work and about the relationship between specialized education and job prospects. 83% of students polled maintained that the technical education fulfilled their expectations. However, 63.9% did not get a job in the field of their course studies, and 55% said that they were currently employed in fields having no relation to the specialty that they studied.

Nevertheless, 85.7% responded affirmatively when asked if they believed that the training they received has served them or will serve them well in their work. Additionally, 62% reported an improved economic situation.

Another finding of note was young people's reported use of the internet to continue their education. Although we currently have minimal online educational offerings from the professional technical field, we believe expansion will be imperative to generate more access and inclusion for people with time and utility limitations.

Public policy incorporates many variables, actors, groups, stakeholders and beneficiaries, but in the case of education, we cannot fail to understand the opinions of students. At the end of the day, they are the priority of the education system.