The workshop “Professional orientation in the ninth grade of elementary school” for principals of elementary schools and representatives of pedagogical institutions from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) was held in Sarajevo on November 30, 2022.
The workshop was held as part of the pilot programme “Development of modern professional orientation in primary school”. Its aim was to train professional and teaching staff in how to improve the conditions in schools for the provision of professional orientation for pupils. The pilot is being implemented by the Education for Employment in BiH project during the fall semester of 2022/23 in 18 schools in BiH (seven schools in the Republika Srpska, 10 schools in the Federation of BiH and one school in the Brčko District).
At the workshop, the results of the pilot program of professional orientation were presented to the attendees, the next steps and activities were announced, and the prominent role of school directors and pedagogical institutions in the process of strengthening capacities for the development of career counselling services in elementary schools was highlighted. The project team also presented the new Handbook of Professional Orientation in the Ninth Grade of Primary School produced by the project that offers teachers new tools for implementing professional orientation in the classroom.
A workshop participant and pedagogue at Mehmedalija Mak Dizdar primary school in Goražde, Elma Hamzić has dedicated herself to professional orientation for over ten years, and participated in various international projects. She says the pilot program of the Education for Employment project was extremely useful for her school in terms of revising and updating already existing contents regarding the professional orientation of students. She also believes that this training was very beneficial for teachers because it allowed them to better understand the importance of professional orientation, which they did not know much about or have much contact with in their daily work.
“Students thoroughly enjoyed completing the various new questionnaires and tests that were made available to us. This allowed them to learn more about themselves and discover some new interests. By strengthening professional orientation in schools, we realised that over time our students have become more resistant to so-called ‘negative peer pressure’. This means that, regardless of their peers’ affinities, our students are more aware of their own interests and abilities, and this significantly helps them to make better decisions about their future education and career”, says Elma Hamzić.
The schools participating in this pilot were nominated by BiH ministries of education in accordance with following criteria: the availability of appropriate human resources in schools, such as expert associates for professional orientation and teachers who would carry out professional orientation in classes, as well as the availability of some free space in the school where the career corner can be located.
As part of this pilot project, a number of activities were organized, comprising training of professional associates and teachers on modern concepts and methods of professional orientation, development of a professional orientation programme in teaching that was carried out by trained teachers with the ninth grade students, and visits to secondary schools and companies tailored to the students’ interests. The pilot also included individual career counselling for students, their participation in various workshops and project assignments on this topic, and the establishment of career corners in schools.
The pilot project that is currently being implemented in 18 elementary schools, providing teaching and professional staff with additional training in modern methods of professional orientation, can serve as a model of professional orientation that can be implemented in all elementary schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the future.
In order to overcome the high unemployment rate and a huge mismatch of the education and training systems with the demands of the labour market, the EU funded project “Education for Employment, BiH” aims to produce human resources in line with the labour market needs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The project assists BiH authorities in improving capacity and structure for planning the educational process and quality of educational outcomes.