In July 2006, the Hebei Provincial Department of Education, Hebei Province International Education Exchange Association and New Times International Ltd, organized a training conference for vocational school teachers in Pingshan near Shijiazhuang. Close to 200 teachers were in attendance from the province to learn new skill-sets and teaching methods, which would better enable them to maximize their students' chances after graduation.
Jacques Peeters, recruiter for New Times and co-director of the conference, said that "many of the teachers came with the aim to only improve their English. However, during the course, we succeeded in changing their outlook to a wider perspective. Beyond a teacher merely being a lecturer, their role should expand to being a guide in the wonderful world of the English language."
"We also placed emphasis on allowing the students to use the language for themselves. This would give them several options inside and outside the classroom," added Peeters.
Peeters' words are prophetic as options are what vocational schools are increasingly offering their students. Recent surveys have shown that vocational school graduates usually secure employment far quicker than their university peers.
"Hebei has seen great changes in recent times. Thanks to the money invested by the government as part of the 11th Five-Year Plan, many training and internship bases have been set up, allowing us to train specialized teachers and improving the overall quality of our students," said Shi Jianping, chief of the Hebei Vocational Education Department. "As our schools improve, so do our students' graduating chances. Many of our students are greeted with as many as three separate job offers soon after graduation, jobs with relatively high salaries. While many of our graduates gravitate toward teaching roles, the wider picture is diverse with our graduates having an average employment of 97 percent."
(Chris Dalby from China.org.cn,ChinaDailyDecember 14, 2006)
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