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Vocational Training and Education

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Vocational Training and Education: At present, Vocational Education is provided only at the +2 stage and, even here, it is restricted ...

Vocational Training and Education:

Vocational Training and Education:

At present, Vocational Education is provided only at the +2 stage and, even here, it is restricted to a distinct stream that is parallel to the academic stream. In contrast to the NPE 1986 goal of covering 25 per cent of the +2 enrolment in the vocational stream by the year 2000, less than 5 per cent of students choose this option at present. The programme has been debilitated by a range of conceptual, managerial and resource constraints for more than 25 years. Apart from being viewed as an inferior stream, it suffers from poor infrastructure, obsolete equipment, untrained or underqualified teachers (often on a part-time basis), outdated and inflexible courses, lack of vertical or lateral mobility, absence of linkage with the ‘world of work’, lack of a credible evaluation, accreditation and apprenticeship system, and, finally, low employability (Report of the Working Group for the Revision of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Vocationalisation of Secondary Education, NCERT, 1998). Clearly, the gigantic and urgent task of building an effective and dynamic programme of vocational education is long overdue. Institutionalisation of work-centred education as an integral part of the school curriculum from the preprimary to the +2 stage is expected to lay the necessary foundation for reconceptualising and restructuring vocational education to meet the challenges of a globalised economy. 

It is proposed, therefore, that we move in a phased manner towards a new programme of Vocational Education and Training (VET), which is conceived and implemented in a mission mode, involving the establishment of separate VET centres and institutions from the level of village clusters and blocks to sub-divisional/ district towns and metropolitan areas. Wherever possible, it would be in the national interest to utilise the school infrastructure (often utilised for only a part of the day) for setting up this new institutional structure for VET. Such VET centres/ institutions also need to be evolved in collaboration with the nationwide spectrum of facilities already existing in this sector. This will imply the expansion of the scope of institutions like ITIs, polytechnics, technical schools, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, rural development agencies, primary health centres (and their auxilliary services), engineering, agricultural and medical colleges, S & T laboratories, cooperatives and specialised industrial training in both the private and public sectors. These measures would naturally call for shifting and adjusting the resources of the present 6,000 - odd senior secondary schools with vocational streams by dovetailing them with the new VET programme. The vocational education teachers engaged in these schools at present should have the option of either being absorbed in to the work-centred education programme in the same school or being able join a new VET centre or institution in the region. 

VET would be designed for all those children who wish to acquire additional skills and/or seek livelihoods through vocational education after either discontinuing or completing their school education. Unlike the present vocational education stream, VET should provide a ‘preferred and dignified’ choice rather than a terminal or ‘last-resort’ option. As with the school, these VET institutions would also be designed to be inclusive, providing for skill development of not just those children who have historically suffered due to their economic, social or cultural backgrounds, but also of the physically and mentally disabled. A well-designed provision of career psychology and counselling as a critical development tool would enable children to systematically plan their movement towards their future vocations or livelihoods, and also guide the institutional leadership in curricular planning and evaluation. The proposed VET shall offer flexible and modular certificate or diploma courses of varying durations (including short durations) emerging from the contextual socio-economic scenario. Decentralised planning of these courses at the level of individual VET centres/ institutions and/or clusters thereof would have to keep in mind the ongoing rapid changes in technology and patterns of production and services in a given area, along with the diminishing access to natural resources and livelihoods for the vast majority of the people. The courses would provide multiple entry and exit points with in-built credit accumulation facility. Each course will also have an adequate academic component (or a provision for a bridge course or both) in order to ensure lateral and vertical linkages with the academic and professional programmes. The strength of a VET centre would lie in its capacity to offer a variety of options depending upon the felt need of the aspirants. 

The VET curriculum should be reviewed and updated from time to time if the programme is not to become moribund and irrelevant to the vocations and livelihoods in a given area or region. The centre in-charges or institutional leadership would need to have access to adequate infrastructure and resources as well as be vested with the necessary authority and academic freedom to establish ‘work benches’ (or ‘work places’ or ‘work spots’) in the neighbourhood or regional rural crafts, agricultural or forest-based production systems and industries and services, thereby utilising the available human and material resources optimally. This collaborative arrangement has three advantages. First, the VET programme can be set up with minimum capital investment. Second, the students would have access to the latest techniques and technology that become available in the area. Third, the students would get on-the-job experience and exposure to real-life problems of designing, production and marketing. For this purpose, it should be made obligatory for all kinds of facilities engaged in production and services such as agriculture, forestry, private and public sector industries (including cottage and small-scale manufacturers) to collaborate with the schools in the area by providing the required ‘work benches’ (or ‘work places’ or ‘work spots’), in the addition to offering training and monitoring support. 

The success of the VET programme is also critically dependent upon building up a credible system of evaluation, equivalence, institutional accreditation (extending to ‘work benches’ and individual expertise) and apprenticeship. Care has to be taken to ensure that such standardisation does not become a negative tool for rejecting/ disqualifying the diverse knowledge and skills that characterise the different regions of India, especially the economically underdeveloped regions like the North-east, hilly tracts, the coastal belt and the central Indian tribal region. An appropriate structural space and a welcoming environment will have to be created in the VET centres and institutions for engaging farmers, animal husbandry, fishery and horticulture specialists, artisans, mechanics, technicians, artists, and other local service providers (including IT) as resource persons or guest faculty. 

The eligibility for VET courses could be relaxed to include a Class V certificate until the year 2010, when the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is expected to achieve UEE, but subsequently it must be raised to Class VIII certificate and eventually to Class X certificate when the target year of universal secondary education is reached. In no case, however, would children below the age of 16 years be eligible for admission to a VET programme. VET centres could also act as skill and hobby centres for all children from the primary stage onwards, and could be accessed before or after school hours. Such centres should also be available for schools to negotiate a collaborative arrangement for the work-centred curriculum even during school hours. In order to translate this vision of VET into practice, several new support structures and resource institutions will have to be created at various levels, including districts, states/ UTs and the centre, besides strengthening and reviving the existing national resource institutions like NCERT’s PSSCIVE at Bhopal.

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CLEAR CTET: Vocational Training and Education
Vocational Training and Education
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