The draft laws on secondary and vocational education passed the first reading of the Parliamentary Commission

Classroom / Photo: Free Press / Dragan Mitreski

The draft laws on secondary education and on vocational education and training passed the first reading today at a session of the Parliamentary Commission for Education, Science and Sports. They received support from all the members of the parent committee, and on the initiative of the MPs from VMRO-DPMNE, public hearings will be organized on both proposals before they are forwarded in the second reading.

They believe that these are serious laws and in order to avoid haste and to hear all interested parties, there should be a public hearing, the conclusions of which will help to create amendments for the next phase of their adoption.

The President of the Commission, Jaklina Lazarevska, said that public hearings will probably be scheduled at the beginning of March in order to achieve the two legal solutions to be voted before the dissolution of the Assembly due to the upcoming elections.

On the initiative of the Ministry of Education and Science, the two draft laws were adopted at a session of the Government on January 16, and Minister Jeton Shaqiri then called for them to be adopted as soon as possible in the interest of improving the education system in the country and raising the quality of educational the educational process considering that the current laws are from 1995 and from 2007.

Shaqiri explained today at the committee session that the new Law on secondary education will enable the development of key competencies and skills among young people, with a particular focus on digital ones, necessary for further education and successful employment. For the first time, career counseling, a career counselor and coordinator for practical education, as well as student organization and participation in decision-making, are introduced.

The new Law on Vocational Education and Training, on the other hand, regulates the concept of dual education. The law increases the volume of practical education in secondary vocational schools, that is, the focus is more on acquiring practical and applicable skills through learning directly at the workplace in companies at the expense of reducing theoretical teaching. The reform of vocational education and training is closely related to changes in the labor market and the need for a model of vocational education and training aimed at creating human resources for the needs of the labor market, through employment or self-employment. The introduction of vocational matriculation and entrance academic exam is also a novelty.

On the initiative of the MPs to have a public discussion before going to the next phase, Shaqiri said that he agrees with everything that will positively contribute to a better law, even though the Ministry of Education worked carefully on both laws.

- For more than 15 months, the MES has been working on these legal solutions that have been submitted to the deputies. All high school principals from all municipalities were invited, the proposal was presented to them and feedback was given with their opinions. The discussion continued with all unions, as well as with the Union of Secondary School Students, public higher education institutions and those related to these laws – the State Examination Center, the Bureau of Education Development, the Center for Vocational Education and Training. In those 15 months, we worked with all stakeholders, but a positive contribution is also a public discussion and everything that is good about these laws, regardless of who is proposed, Shaqiri said.

Blagica Lasovska from VMRO-DPMNE said that the public hearing should be with all stakeholders and not be "like the public hearing on Mila Tsarovska's Conception" from which there was no report and conclusions and which made "serious blows to education".

According to MP Halil Snopce from the Alliance for Albanians, the Mathematics tests at the state matriculation exam are difficult and he believes that something needs to be changed in the final exam because it is rewritten massively, and such a way of passing, he said, is unacceptable because it degrades the students.

Minister Shaqiri replied that he asked the DIC to hold the annual state graduation in large spaces, where there are conditions for sports centers, and that the DIC is making the preparations.

Regarding vocational education, it was pointed out that in the past four years there has been an increase in enrollment in vocational schools and that the profiles are regulated according to the needs of the labor market and in cooperation with companies and municipalities and through the campaign of the Ministry of Education and Culture "Learn smart, work professionally". The number of open dual classes also testifies to the trend - from 11 four years ago, there are now 592 with almost 7000 students.

MP Sanela Shkrijelj from SDSM pointed out that the European Commission in its reports praises the development of vocational education, which is more often chosen by excellent students, that is, that the prejudice that students with lower grades are enrolled there is already being overcome.

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