A teacher training for the implementation of occupational/qualification standards in teacher education study programs was held from September to December 2022 as part of the EU project Education for employment in BiH. Around 100 drafts of study programs were created for ten different studies, including Bosnian, English, Mathematics/Mathematics-physics/Mathematics-informatics, German, Sport, Sociology/Psychology-sociology, Chemistry/Chemistry-biology, Turkish, and Philosophy.
65 university teachers from eight public universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina attended and successfully finished this training program, which was primarily designed for university professors executing teacher studies.
The dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Zenica, Alica Arnaut, a training participant, emphasized that this training came at the right time for the Faculty of Philosophy in Zenica, because they intend to innovate their curriculums, particularly in the areas that help developing teacher competencies, such as psychology, pedagogy, didactics, and methodology. In addition, the training significantly helped them with the proper calculation of ETSC credits. She also said that all opportunities to improve and acquire new professional knowledge are worthy of attention and that she and her colleagues from the faculty try not to miss them.
“According to the field data, the study programs that generate subject teachers, who teach in the upper grades of elementary and secondary schools, are the main source of quality issues in terms of teacher qualification and competence. Comparing to the classroom teaching studies and art academies, it was noticed that these studies have a significantly lower number of subjects and ECTS credits in the fields of psychology, pedagogy, didactics, and methodology. This was taken into account when creating this training and properly selecting its participants,” explained Luciana Boban, an expert for initial teacher training of the Education for Employment project, an associate professor of Latin and quality coordinator at the University of Mostar, as to why such training was developed and implemented.
The ultimate goal of the training was for current university teachers to gain knowledge and skills necessary to independently create study programs based on learning outcomes. The training was held through three two-day workshops, and it covered the following topics: Management of the curriculum development process, Incorporation of teachers’ occupational/qualification standards into the curriculum, and fulfillment of accreditation criteria related to the procedure for adopting and periodically revising the study program, as well as the Content and implementation of the curriculum.
Ivana Zečević, a professor at the University of Banja Luka’s Faculty of Philosophy and an expert for initial teacher training of the Education for Employment project, commented on the importance of the topics covered during the training. She said that it offered a way out of the predetermined framework and a better understanding of the purpose of initial teacher education. The existence and relevance of occupational and qualification standards documents, as well as how to effectively use them to create curriculums that would enable the development of suitable professional competencies, were fully explained to the participants.
“During this training it was stressed that courses that develop teacher competencies are just as important as courses that expand and deepen knowledge about the subject that a particular teacher will teach in the future. Until now, teacher education programs have mostly produced personnel who are well-informed about the science they should teach, but not about how they should teach it. We also worked on a more detailed understanding of double-subject studies, and participants were given a matrix for preparing both single-subject and double-subject studies that incorporate teacher competencies” emphasized Ivana Zečević.
Luciana Boban also emphasized that the training is primarily geared toward teacher studies in the form of dual subjects, allowing teachers to teach two subjects in primary and secondary schools in the future. When asked about the most significant outcomes of the training, Luciana Boban stated:
“Among the important results of this training, we should highlight the fact that the University Džemal Bijedić in Mostar is already in the process of creating two double-subject study programs in biology and chemistry, as well as mathematics and physics, whose curriculum will be based on the results of the implemented workshops. In addition, based on the results of this training, the University of Mostar will improve the programs of its existing dual studies in its spring audit.”
Following the training, five public universities, out of a total of eight, will establish a dual-subject study system for the first time. At two universities, the existing system will be improved, while at one university, an effort will be made to develop a teaching module for two faculties that share the same subjects that includes teaching competencies.
Emir Muhić, an associate professor at the University of Banja Luka’s Faculty of Philology and a training participant, stated that the training was extremely beneficial to him and his colleagues, while giving them the opportunity for self-improvement and better understanding of current events and trends in the field of education. It also offered the possibility to establish important contacts and exchange of opinions and experiences with colleagues from other universities.
“The training was particularly useful in the context of understanding the principle on the basis of which ECTS credits are calculated, understanding the syllabus, as well as the link between the modern educational process and the current labor market. We were also intrigued by the concepts of interdisciplinary studies, the horizontal connection with other related departments at the university, and the double majoring. I believe it is important to raise awareness of the possibility of studying different subjects so that our future graduate students will be more competitive in the market,” said Emir Muhić and added that all of the aforementioned possibilities require an appropriate legal framework in order to be realized.
In the coming months, he plans to organize a workshop with his colleagues who attended the training, to pass on the information they learned to other colleagues in the department. The possibility of a symposium, in which the acquired knowledge will be transferred to representatives of other faculties at the University of Banja Luka, is not excluded as well.
The development of a methodology for implementing teachers’ occupational/qualification standards in teacher study programs was an important component of the entire Education for Employment project. Therefore, the project experts, in cooperation with the Teacher Training Working Group, designed a Manual for the Implementation of Occupational/Qualification Standards in BiH.
This manual served as the basis for the development of the aforementioned Training Program, and was used during the workshops. The final version of the Manual will include examples of study programs’ drafts created during this training.
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.