Universal, general and vocational education
Zdenko Medveš

Summary:  Through analysis of three types of reasons – systemic, socioeconomic and cognitive-theoretical – we attempt to explain why the dichotomy between general education and vocational education has persisted so stubbornly in the development of education systems. We devote particular attention to the socioeconomic factor, which provides a fairly good explanation of what it is in the structure of the education system that demands the separation of general and vocational education; the discussion of the socioeconomic factor also exposes the fiction that the incompatibility of general and vocational knowledge and the inability to connect the two are the consequence of cognitive-theoretical differences between the two aggregates of knowledge. In support of arguments in favor of the connection of general education with technical education to form an organic whole, we introduce the concept of competencies, as contained in the PISA project. We also analyze the potential effects of the philosophy of this project on elementary and general knowledge and state our position regarding the view that while key competencies cannot by their nature replace general education, they probably represent challenges that could render it more dynamic. On the basis of an analysis of the concept of competencies, we find that in educational practice in this country they have not contributed significantly to reducing the gulf between general and vocational education. Even the reforms of education programs after 2007 indicate that attempts at reconciliation are merely formal and most often find expression in the introduction of subjects of the gymnasium (general education) type into vocational/technical education, which is, of course, possible only at the expense of subjects from individual technical and vocational fields. The question of whether the concept of competencies would mean an unacceptable focus on pragmatism in general education in elementary schools and gymnasia (general upper secondary schools) remains open, but it would certainly represent the possibility of a theoretical basis for vocational education, particularly in the special vocational knowledge segment, which still remains more or less at the level of imitation and practice.

Journal of Contemporary Educational Studies is
published with support of Slovenian Research Agency.