Vocational Education for Sale: a Case Study
06 - Präsentation
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When thinking about private schools in Switzerland, vocational education on the upper secondary level is rarely considered. On the contrary, the focus mainly lies on international baccalaureate school (Suter, 2013). It’s said that such private schools hand-held by global corporation are especially on the rise in cities like Zürich, Zug and Geneva. Ambitious parents would spare neither expense nor effort to push their children to the baccalaureate. Not surprisingly, such diagnoses often end in concerns and warnings about the weakening of the Swiss vocational education system and the principle of equal opportunities. Nevertheless, while looking on absolute numbers published be the Federal Statistical Office private schools on the upper secondary level are nearly likewise present in the vocational such as in the general track (BFS, 2017). Last year more than 7000 students were enrolled in private schools paying for their vocational education. Moreover, in the last five years there has been an increase of about 2500 such students. Actually, in Zürich and Basel every tenth vocational education on the upper secondary level is taking place in such a non-subsidized private school. For the students this vocational education for sale is offered for example by schools like the “Benedict Schule”, “Minerva”, “AKAD”, “NSH” and so on. Thereby, this can imply school fees and cost of about 37’000 Swiss Francs. Not to mention about the unpaid work done in the so-called practical education, which has to be held in a one or two-year hands-on training in a company mediated by the private school. Possibly wages and compensations are directly contracted by the private school and counts as “reduction” of the effective education costs. Based on a case-study of a young woman, this paper aims to get deeper insight in these rarely considered and examined “margins” (Pless, 2014) of the Swiss vocational education system. Therefore, on a theoretical level, the paper firstly ask about how to understand the emerging of this non-subsidized private school in the vocational track. Secondly, based on the empirical data, the question is raised about how this young woman as a so-called “uneducated” person is dealing with these private chances, promises and investments in order to achieve a vocational education. In a methodological perspective this case study is part of a broader qualitative research – a dissertation project – about the “education of the non-educated” , i.e. the so-called transitional educational programs [= dt. Übergangsausbildungen]. Therein, the young woman is one out of thirty students, who has been interviewed about her educational and vocational pathway. First results shows a connection between this private ways to deal with the situation of being formally “non-educated” and the fact, that vocational education as post-compulsory education is more and more socially expected, politically demanded while not been publicly guaranteed (Knecht und Atzmüller, 2017). In this context, paradoxically, but not surprisingly, vocational education for sale, as illustrated in the case study of the young woman might act as “prospects of salvation” (Illich, 2003) [= dt. “Heilserwartungen”] for those who already experienced the preclusive character of the vocational education system (Sacchi und Meyer, 2016). Moreover, as a privately paid so-called “magical salvation” (Bourdieu, 2009, S. 12) [= dt. “magische Heilung”] in the case of the young woman this private school of vocational education opened up the chance to be admitted to the federal vocational baccalaureate program [= dt. Berufsmaturitätsschulen], and therefore to eventually once achieve her primary ambition: the college of fine arts. Still, it was the young woman herself with the indispensable help of her single mother and her grandparents (former immigrant workers), who finally bore the costs for this educational and intergenerational upward mobility.