Making Students Aatma-Nirbhar

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By: Shakir Nisar

The term vocational education is comprehensive and all embracing in nature. Apart from general education it indicates acquisition of knowledge and practical skills in different sectors of economic and social life. It is an integral part of general education. It is also an aspect of continuing education. Vocational education refers to the training provided to students to make them fit for certain professions such as crafts, engineering, nursing, hospitality, agriculture, dairy etc. Our education system needs to strike a fine balance between academic education and vocational education while designing the scholastic curriculum. The practice of vocational education has been on the rise these days. This is mainly because people who cannot afford conventional education after a point of time can learn valuable and necessary skills useful for employment. People of all ages can take part in vocational education courses. Unlike most higher education courses that provide basic degrees with no specific specialization in trade, vocational courses train students for a particular trade.

In our country, a three-year honors degree has always been more valued and respected than the short term job oriented courses.   It is one of the weaknesses of the Indian education system. As a result, there is a mismatch between the skills required for the job and the skills possessed by the candidates. As a result of that, there are scores of unemployed graduates in the country. While education in India has grown manifold since independence, the state of vocational education still remains poor. The educational institutes still follow the education pattern that was laid by the British during the colonial era and which has lost its relevance in keeping with the job market of the present time. Today, the economies over the world are changing into knowledge and skill-based economies. This technology – dependant era requires an individual to be specialized in a particular skill. For this, the education system and people’s mindset need to be reformed. Vocational subjects should be made a part of the higher education degrees. Also, more institutes and universities for-vocational training should come up. At the same time, society should shun its biased views against these courses and realize the need of the hour to have professional courses.

Vocational Education comes with lot of benefits. Let us take the case of an electrician. If one wishes to be an electrician in the case of vocational education, he usually takes up the Electronics and Hardware course that provides the skills needed to be an electronics expert and an electrician. This includes handling of wires, the building of wire systems, ways of fixing broken circuits, installation of electric meters, repair and maintenance of various electronic and electrical devices and on and so forth. This person will learn the laws of physics in his/her regular science book and simultaneously will learn the practical part in vocational course chosen. In this way, vocational education is accessible for individuals to take up quickly and with speed.

There have been some positive developments in last decade (2011-2020). There has been a surge in number of students opting for Vocational Courses. Also a number of Govt. Schools (High Schools and Higher Secondary’s) have been chosen to start vocational courses. National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) in India was notified on 27th December 2013. It is a nationally integrated education and competency-based skill and quality assurance framework that will provide for multiple pathways, horizontal as well as vertical, including vocational education, vocational training, general education and technical education, thus linking one level of learning to another higher level. This boosted the rise of Vocational Education in Govt. Schools of the country. The then Minister of HRD Pallam Raju has rightly said, ‘The Indian youth needs to be empowered, and it can be done through good education and vocational training only’.  CBSE, the premier Indian educational organization, has introduced approximately 40 vocational courses at schools. In future India will have more number of skilled workers and professionals. Their quality work force will definitely improve the work quality throughout the nation’. Pandit Sunder Lal Sharma Central Institute of Vocational Education (PSSCIVE) Bhopal is doing a commendable job in framing the syllabus for Vocational Courses and providing the study material to the students.

The J&K Government decided to introduce vocational courses in High Schools in 2015 in order to hone employability skills in the students. The decision came after a lull of three years since the component was introduced in centrally sponsored Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RSMA) scheme. The then Minister for education, Naeem Akhtar, said these components were earlier shelved in JK. “We are trying to revive the schemes and equip the students with entrepreneurship and job skills.” he had said. Vocational Education was then formally introduced in 70+ Govt. High Schools of J&K state. Presently, Vocational Education is gaining its importance all over India and in J&K as well. Every year 100s of schools are identified to start vocational courses. Presently, the schools provide two vocational courses to the students of class 9th to class 12th. Govt of Jammu and Kashmir is working tooth and nails to flourish the skill development in students. In this regard, high performance Vocational Labs worth lacs of rupees have been set up across all the vocational schools. Presently in J&K, 732 Govt. High and Higher Secondary Schools (Rough Figure) provide Vocational courses to students. There are a number of courses provided in J&K such as Electronics and Hardware, Apparels, Beauty and Wellness, IT ITes, Plumbing, Automotive, Retail, Healthcare, Agriculture, Dairy Farming, Telecom, Security, etc. Vocational courses have reduced the dropout rate from Govt. Schools as the students find it interesting to be exposed to the practical work at early stages of life. Vocational Education has been a key point in New Education Policy (NEP-2020). Govt of India is planning to integrate vocational Education with regular education and start Vocational courses for students from class 6th onwards.

To conclude, I reiterate that If India is to accelerate her pace of development; she must focus more on vocational education at schools. Vocational subjects must be made compulsory in the school curriculum across the nation.

  • The author is a Vocational Trainer at Govt. Boys High school Garend Budgam and can be reached at [email protected]

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