Using School Societies As A Means Of Vocational Development


USING SCHOOL SOCIETIES AS A MEANS OF VOCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

INTRODUCTION


Vocational education in Nigeria is the product of an extended evolutionary process. Economic, educational, and societal issues have repeatedly exerted influence on the definition of vocational education, as well as on how, when, where, and to whom it will be provided. There are many legal definitions of vocational education (i.e., how vocational education is defined by law). These legal definitions are critical since they specify how, for what purpose, and to what extent federal monies may be spent for vocational education. All too often this legal definition is interpreted by state and local officials as the only definition of vocational education.Vocational Development

For the purpose of this article, vocational education is defined as a practically illustrated and attempted job or career skill instruction. As such, a variety of components fall under the vocational education umbrella: agricultural education, business education, family and consumer sciences, health occupations education, marketing education, technical education, technology education, and trade and industrial education. The vocational curriculum can be identified as a combination of classroom instruction–hands-on laboratory work and on-the-job training–augmented by an active network of student organizations. Vocational preparation must always be viewed against the backdrop of the needs of society and of the individual. While meeting the demands of the economy, the abilities of individuals must be utilized to the fullest. Meeting the internalized job needs of individuals is a crucial objective of vocational education.Vocational Development

The first formalized vocational education system in America can be traced to apprenticeship agreements of colonial times. The first education law passed in America, the Old Deluder Satan Act of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, set specific requirements for masters to teach apprentices academic as well as vocational skills. During the colonial period the colonies frequently cared for orphans, poor children, and delinquents by indenturing them to serve apprenticeships. As apprenticeship declined, other institutions developed to care for these youngsters. By the mid-1880s vocational education in the form of industrial education was synonymous with institutional programs for these youth. The children of defeated Native American leaders were sent to the Carlisle Pennsylvania Indian School, and the curriculum was job training.Vocational Development

After the Civil War Chapman Armstrong, the founder of Hampton Institute and the ideological father of African-American vocational education, tried to address the racial aspects of the social and economic relations between the former slaves and the white South. His vocational education programs emphasized the need for African Americans to be good, subservient laborers. The prominent educator Booker T. Washington, Armstrong’s prize student, took the same values and philosophical views as his former mentor. Washington held firmly to his beliefs that vocational education was the ideal route for most African Americans. W. E. B. Du Bois, also an influential African-American educator, strongly objected to Washington’s educational program. He accused Washington of teaching lessons of work and money, which potentially encouraged African Americans to forget about the highest aims of life.

The first land-grant college provisions, known as the First Morrill Act, were enacted by the U.S. Congress on July 2, 1862. The statute articulated the appointment of public lands to the states based on their representation in Congress in 1860. The Morrill Act was one of the first congressional actions to benefit from the post– constitutional amendments.

By the late 1860s Morrill Act funds were being distributed to the states, with the intention that they would foster educational opportunity for all students. Following the Civil War, the expansion of the land-grant college system continued, with its implied focus on educational opportunities. However, with the close of the army’s occupation to the old South, funds from the Morrill Act began to flow systemically to schools offering only all-white education. Congress attempted by various legislation to force racial equality, including equality of educational opportunity.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court initiated a series of interpretations of the post—Civil War constitutional amendments that ultimately defeated these various legislative efforts. Culminating with its 1882 decision finding the first Civil Rights Act unconstitutional, the Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth amendment only protected against direct discriminatory action by a state government. What followed was a period of nearly seventy-five years when only modest gains were made in higher educational opportunity for minorities. Congress did pass a second Morrill Act (1890), which required states with dual systems of education (all-white and nonwhite) to provide landgrand institutions for both systems.

Basing their jurisdiction on the 1882 Supreme Court decision, Congress acted to curb direct state-sponsored discrimination. Eventually, nineteen higher education institutions for African Americans were organized as land-grant institutions. These institutions were founded to raise the aspirations of a generation of children of former slaves and to ensure that high quality higher education was provided for Americans of all races. While efforts persisted throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to reduce the funding to these colleges, the schools continued to function based on land-grant funds.

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