Technical/Vocational High School Diploma (Business and Administration)
Many possible variants, of course. Let me explain my choices.
First, the bachillerato in Colombia is equivalent to a high school diploma. It involves six years of secondary education, the four years of secondary educación básica (grades 6-9) and the two years of educación media (grades 10-11).
Here is a document in English comparing the Colombian education system with that of the Netherlands. The details of the latter don't matter here, of course, but the flow chart on page 3 is useful:
There are two types of bachillerato: bachillerato académico and bachillerato técnico. They are parallel, involving the same number of years of study and taken at the same age and educational stage, and equivalent in value. The difference is that the académico is really designed entirely to prepare students for higher education, whereas the second is designed to prepare them either for employment or for higher education. Both are unequivocally high school diplomas, but of different kinds.
Within the bachillerato técnico there are a number of different specialties. Comercio is one; others are agropecuaria, finanzas, administración, ecología, medio ambiente, industria, informática, minería, salud, recreación, turismo, deporte. You might perhaps see these as equivalent to emphases.
So the Bachiller Técnico Comercial is a specific variety of Bachiller Técnico.
The most enlightening document I've found is this one, from the Colombian Ministry of Education, addressing a question from a member of the public on "Diferencia bachillerato académico con bachillerato comercial". It includes the following:
"Educación Media Técnica: Esta educación prepara a los estudiantes para el desempeño laboral en uno de los sectores de la producción y de los servicios, y para la continuación en la educación superior."
Now, how to translate it. There are many possible ways of doing it. I think we want a version that clarifies the points I've highlighted: first, that this is a "bachillerato" (high school diploma); second, that it's "técnico" as opposed to "académico"; and third that it's specifically the "comercial" variety of "técnico".
I have misgivings about "technical" as a translation of "técnico", because in English it tends to be applied to science and engineering. "Técnico" really means vocational here, in practice; but if you just put "vocational" I think an American reader will definitely get the message that this is an inferior kind of high school diploma for those who can't cut it academically, whereas the message we want to convey is that it's equivalent, no less difficult, but for different purposes. That's why I'd suggest "Technical/Vocational", which to me sounds a bit better than just "vocational" but not so purely scientific as just "technical". It doesn't matter that it's a bit clumsy. Style is not an issue here; we want accuracy. However, if you think one or other of these terms would do on its own, fine.
As for "comercial", I don't think "commercial" is exactly right, because it implies trade, and it's not just that. When you look at the curriculum, it's really a training in business and administrative skills. An older Colombian document on "educación media comercial" describes it as "encaminada a preparar personal eficiente para las actividades administrativas, de nivel medio, del comercio, la banca, la industria y la Administración Pública".
This document (from 1962) has been superseded by subsequent reforms, but I think the concept of "comercial" it set out is still valid. Hence my suggestion of "business and administration", which could be put in parentheses, or you could put "in business and administration".
Note added at 16 hrs (2016-12-14 08:03:01 GMT)
Or maybe, on reflection, since they now seem to have "administración" as a separate track, just "business" here.
| Charles Davis|
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Specializes in field
Native speaker of: English
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