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1 International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED)
The 1997 ‘International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED97)’ is a classification system that provides a framework for the comprehensive statistical description of national educational systems, and a methodology that translates national educational programmes into internationally comparable levels of education.
The basic unit of classification in ISCED97 is the educational programme. ISCED97 also classifies programmes by field of study, programme orientation (General, pre-vocational, technical/vocational) and destination (giving access to subsequent education or to labour market).
‘Programme destination’ (subsequent education, labour market) is the type of subsequent education or destination for which completers are eligible or type of labour market positions for which they prepare graduates.
‘Programme orientation’ (General, pre-vocational, technical/vocational) refers to the degree to which the programme is specifically oriented towards a specific class of occupations or trades. Typically, programmes with no T/V content are classified as General programmes; programmes with less than 25% of T/V content are classified as pre-vocational. In UNESCO statistics pre-vocational education is included in general education.
‘General orientation’ is designed to lead pupils to a deeper understanding of a subject or group of subjects, especially, but not necessarily, in the perspective of preparing pupils for further (additional) education at the same or a higher level. Such programmes are typically school-based and may (or may not) contain vocational elements. Successful completion of such programmes may (or may not) lead to an academic qualification. However, they do not typically allow successful completers to enter a particular occupation or trade or class of occupations or trades without further training. General education has a technical or vocational content of less than 25%.
‘Pre-vocational orientation’ refers to a programme designed to introduce participants to labour market and to prepare them for entry into vocational or technical education programmes. Successful completion of pre- vocational programmes does not lead to a labour-market relevant vocational or technical qualification but to a technical/vocational programme. For a programme to be considered as pre-vocational or pre-technical education, at least 25 per cent of its content has to be vocational or technical. Pre- vocational programmes are reported along with general programmes.
‘Technical/vocational orientation’ is for programmes that are mainly designed to lead participants to acquire the practical skills, know-how and understanding necessary for employment in a particular occupation or trade or class of occupations or trades. Successful completion of technical/vocational programmes lead to a labour-market relevant vocational qualification recognized by the competent authorities in the country in which it is obtained (e.g. Ministry of Education, employers’ associations, etc.).
First developed in the 1970s, the current ISCED97 was formally adopted in November 1997. As classification issues continue to arise (education systems expand and diversify), Member States requested that the UNESCO Institute for Statistics suggests a reviewed classification to the 2011 UNESCO General Conference (http://www.unesco.org/confgen/).
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