This year the subject we chose to talk about, it’s something that has been concerning us, as students, but also our teachers and parents.
With this presentation we will explain you how do the Portuguese learning system works, and what problems it might have according to our topic, which is “students career guidance”.
In Portugal, children must complete the 9th form, and when they do it, they have to decide which area of studies they will pick. In our country, schools offer a great variety of these such as: Sciences and Technologies, Economics, Languages and Humanities, Arts and many other professional courses for those who prefer practical subjects.
But there’s a big problem when a child with only about 14 and 15 years old, is pushed to make a decision like this, which will obviously influence their future lives and career options. So we decided to make a survey, to get to know our students choices in different aspects, according to the topic. The sample was composed by 75 secondary students and another 75 for the 9th form ones. Let’s see the results.
When asked about the kind of help they had to choose their area of studies, we can see that most of the secondary students didn’t use professional guidance, since they were helped by their parents (38 students) and the same happened with 9th formers (64 students), who soon will have the same decision in their hands. Of course, if we count them all, the result is more than 75 students, but that’s because they could choose more than one answer option. However, we can see that the large majority had been and are still being helped by their own parents, which might not be the best solution.
After that, we decided to ask the students a few questions about the vocational tests, that can help them decide which area of studies they will choose. Here are the results:
- In both samples, the majority of the students knew about these tests, but way less students tried one;
- For secondary students who tried it (at school or in any other place), it wasn’t very helpful;
- To finish this issue, we asked if they were suggested by their own parents to do the test, and we can see that this number has increased among the 9th formers.
The vocational test, assesses the interests and motivation for future plans, which lead us to the next question.
Do or do not students want to join the university? We got some scary results with this question since there is an incredible decrease of interest in joining the university among the 9th formers.
We prefer to believe that a possible reason for this, is the lack of maturity among the younger sample. Because if it’s not, we may conclude the following:
- school and vocational guidance are failing;
- there are more professional courses are available, which can lead the students to different paths.
After knowing the students’ preferences, we found out that it was time to make the question: should or should not the school have the last word in the choice of the area of studies?
In both samples the majority answered no. However, we think that in some cases it should have. An example: imagine that a student who had poor marks and results in subjects like Maths or Biology until the 9th form, decides to choose sciences and technologies as his area of studies. Then in this case, school should have the last word.
With our questionnaire, we concluded that there is still a lot to do about career guidance in Portuguese schools:
- There’s a lack of professional help with students’ vocational guidance (parents represent the majority of students choices);
- According to the opinion of both samples, the vocational test doesn’t represent the best solution on choosing the area of studies;
- From secondary to 9th form students there’s a decrease of interest in joining the university;
- Almost all the students don’t believe that school should have the last word in the choice of the area of studies for each one.
With our questionnaire we came also to the conclusion that:
- According to the students’ opinion, school should organise “job/university course fairs” with more frequency, since they can be very helpful;
- Almost every secondary student believe he/she was not pushed to go to an area of studies according to their parents desire or wishes and believe they made the ‘right’ choice;
- In general, both samples believe:
- there should be more choice in the subjects they study as well as to try more topics to choose with more accuracy;
- there should be more information either on posters or websites;
- job experiences should be provided according to students preferences.