According to Vietnam standard TCVN 5814 of quality assurance (QA): is entirely planned operation and system that is carried out in the quality system and proved to be enough to generate necessary level of trust that entities (objects) will fully satisfy the requirements of quality.
Quality assurance is the views, guidelines, policies, objectives, actions, tools, processes and procedures through which they can be used to ensure that the mission and goals are being implemented, the standards are being maintained and enhanced (SEAMEO, 2002). QA is a general term, referring to the measures and approaches used to improve the quality of training (SEAMEO, 2003).
In vocational training (VT), quality assurance is a continuous process: designing, building the system of management, assessment, control, maintenance, troubleshoot and improvement in order to improve the quality of training to achieve objectives set by the businesses.
1. The purpose of quality assurance activities in vocational training
QA aims at preventing mistakes right from the first step to ensure there are no defective products after the training process; or help organizations get it right from the start, do the right thing at all times; or find and fix errors immediately.
QA activities are the basis for improving the quality of education and training in order to assess and serve the purpose of improving quality; are important factors directly impacting the reform, innovation and the future planning of the (vocational training institutions). With its diverse roles, QA is beneficial to entire country meeting the expectations of society for vocational training institutions.
QA enhances the flexibility of the vocational training system (VT). Each set of national standards and the application of standards in quality assurance will contribute to strengthening national capacities in the formulation of comparative database in its entire system of education, as well as the ability to associate different levels of education in the national education system.
In this context, the number of countries implementing QA has increased significantly. QA activities has become a widely-used tool helping learners and employers obtain important information about the quality of a vocational training institution and quality of entire vocational education system
2. The basic elements of quality assurance in vocational training today
In Vietnam, quality assurance in VT is composed of 03 key elements:
- Internal Quality Assurance: Executed through QA system inside vocational training institutions to prevent and deal with errors that occur before and during training, including such things as: construction, implementation, assessment, continual improvement of quality standards through the elements: input, output, process.
- Self-inspection: This is an activity of self-assessment performed by vocational training institutions based on criteria and standards for quality assurance of vocational training issued by the Ministry of Labour - Invalids and Social Affairs in order to indicate the strengths, weaknesses from which planning and implementing measures can be done to meet the targets.
-External quality assurance includes activities of vocational training quality assurance, activities of regular, unexpected inspection, monitoring performed by competent authorities.
In the world, especially in the UK, 03 primary forms of QA of VT are currently in application:
- Quality Assessment: is the evaluation of teaching - learning activities and the output on the basis of a detailed review of the curriculum structure and the efficiency of the school's training. Quality assessment is used to determine whether the school or training program meets common criteria, standards or not (CHEA, 2001). The assessment will focus on the question “How is the result of the activities”. Assessment alone often does not include the purpose of improving the quality which is considered essential in the context of the development of quality assurance activities today.
- Quality Audit: is understood as a process of checking whether or not the school has a quality assurance process for training activities and related activities? Whether that process is carried out or not and to what extent is the level of effectiveness? (AUQA, 2001) .Quality audit often asks the question “How well did you perform those things that you declared”. Therefore the process of quality audit quality is only common in long-established education systems and its training institutions traditionally perform a self-assessment.
- Accreditation: is an activity aimed at assessing, determining the level of implementation of training objectives, programs and curriculum of training institutions.
3. The role of quality assurance in building social trust in vocational training today
According to vocational training development strategy during period 2011 - 2020, vocational training institutions are responsible for its quality assurance of training ensuring standardization of "input" and "output". Thus, vocational training institutions are independent in its quality assurance of training and are responsible for the services they provide to society. This makes the schools more the dynamic, autonomous in their operation, however this also will give rise to the question of how to maintain the sustainability and stability of the output quality of individual schools while gaining even quality in output of all the schools in vocational training system, contributing to the trust of society and learners in products and services provided by the schools.
To carry out this requirement, Vietnam is implementing uniform solutions such as: building national qualifications framework (including the national occupation qualifications framework), issuance of the national skills standard, building training programs based on national skill standards, building learning outcome based national occupation qualifications framework.... Issuance of diploma and certificate in vocational training will also have a lot of innovations which have been included in the draft of Law on occupational education submitted to National Assembly in November 2014, by which there will be no final graduation exams but the granting of diplomas and certificates is based on the recognition of graduation on the basis of learners meeting requirements of all modules, subjects. While there are fairly uniform solution mentioned above, but for the stages during training process to be synchronous, stable, always updated, developed in line with practical requirements is a problem that needs to be tackled. Therefore, with the function of identifying, constructing and running policies, procedures, processes, actions and attitudes in order to achieve, maintain, monitor and strengthen, developing quality assurance system will enable schools to perform well in all perspectives of the training process.
For the enterprise, in order to assure the quality of training, necessary elements of quality assurance for vocational training process need to be developed appropriately. QA elements include: program and curricula; teachers and managerial staff; facilities, equipment and management activities.
These factors must always be consistent with each other. Teaching methods shall be corresponding to the teaching and learning equipments and teachers shall be qualified enough to conduct teaching according to the teaching methods applied. In order to assure the training quality, those four factors must be guaranteed at the same time and to do this, there should be a dominant management system to synchronize 4 elements.
According to the evaluation by Vietnam Vocational Training Accreditation Agency and some schools that have adopted the quality management system ISO 9001- 2008, management usually consists of 80-90 contents. Thus building a full quality assurance system for a vocational training institution is an immense task that requires enormous resources.
A significant factor affecting the quality of vocational training is external environment. The influencing factors include: socio-economic conditions, institutional policies of vocational training and vocational training social partners ... Therefore developing a system of quality management in vocational training school shall first be in line with the legal system and regulations on businesses, then suitability to each specific school can be considered next.
There are plenty of quality management models applicable to education and training such as Australian quality assurance, national quality management Malcolm Baldridge - United States, European quality management, quality management ISO 9001/2008, South Africa quality management, Scolent. The selection of models applied in each country, each training institution is dependent on the actual conditions and regulations of each country and each training institution.
In addition, combined with external quality assurance, the stability of output quality will be assured and confirmed, so that society and partners related to the school will have more confidence in diplomas, certificates granted by vocational training institutions.
4. A number of solutions to improve quality assurance activities in vocational training today
Leaders of vocational training institutions are not always fully aware of the meaning and role of QA activities in their organization. This is also one of the causes why training quality of vocational schools are not as good as desired and how the operation of the school is very diverse depending on the interest and awareness of each school. Therefore, for this activity to become really effective we need to focus on a number of issues:
4.1. Developing quality management system in vocational training institutions: The goal is to build a model of management system framework of vocational training quality assurance suitable to practical conditions of Vietnam vocational training scene. Management system, the quality assurance of vocational training in vocational training institutions must ensure a number of principles: Being systematic, modern, emphasizing the role of managers, involve participation of all members in the organization, process-based approach, built on a legal basis, be regularly examined, monitored and continuous improvement approaching the principles of total quality management system TQM.
4.2. Strengthening self-evaluation and external assessment for vocational training institutions: Every year vocational training institutions should strictly implement self-evaluation activities, organize vocational training, increase external assessment, thereby strengths and weaknesses can be objectively assessed from which consensus shall be reached to make decisions that promote the advantages, address the disadvantages so that learners after graduation are able to meet society's expectation.
4.3. Constructing assessment tools of training quality through individual subjects/ modules: The units specialized in quality assurance activities shall be established in vocational training institutions, such as examination and quality assurance center, in order to objectively evaluate training activities through forms such as: Organizing examination to end module/subject, certification exam, graduation exam,... evaluation outcome is the basis for calculation of salary paid to each teacher; The results of the assessment serve as the basis for classification of individuals as well as of the unit.
4.4. Using the beginning docket: helps manage teaching activities of teachers from the students’ perspective. This measure increases the objectivity in management of training process and provides management information with more diversity. Through the use of beginning docket, units specialized in management of teaching and learning activities can control the training progress, capture information about learning in each class, thereby timely corrective measures can be employed for better training efficiency.
Beginning docket is not included in the provisions of Decision No.62/QĐ/2008- BLĐTBXH dated 14th November 2008 by the Minister of Labor, Invalids - Social Affairs on issuing templates, management records of teaching and learning activities in vocational training. Therefore, implementation must be approved by the school council.
4.5. Regularly attend the hours of teacher during the school year: Through these methods, teachers are not only learning from each other through classroom lectures but can also monitor: the content, methodology, teaching schedule... of co-workers. Furthermore, there are objective information about the quality, qualifications and teaching skills of each teacher from which the drawbacks of teaching in the classroom setting can be addressed.
4.6. Manage, process the feedback of learners and employers immediately: Regularly take feedback about the subjects/modules from learners, this is an important information channel that can help vocational training institutions promote the advantages, address limitations in a timely manner. Through corporate employers vocational training institutions will see the influence of these factors on training quality according to the assessment of the employers.
4.7. Establish the groups of external assessment independently: including vocational training accreditation center under Vietnam Vocational Training Accreditation Agency and a number of other accreditation centers founded by organizations and individuals.
Khổng Hữu Lực- Phạm Vũ Quốc Bình
The paper was published on the “Journal of Education” No. 376 (Period 2-2 / 2016)
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