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Vocational Training:KEY TO NATION’S ECONOMY , by Suraj Saraf, 27 Apr, 2011 Print E-mail

Open Forum

New Delhi, 27 April 2011

Vocational Training


By Suraj Saraf


A big push to vocational training is in the offing. Whereby, a Group of State Education Ministers (GOM) will be constituted this month. The GOM will suggest ways for strengthening vocational education at all levels and develop a broad consensus on the contours of the proposed National Vocational Education Qualifications Framework (NVEQF).


At a meeting chaired by the Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal to discuss policy reforms in vocational education and to put in place a framework held recently it mooted urgent imperatives for vocational training. Earlier expressing concern over the lack of respect for vocational education, Sibal called for a need to change this mindset as “vocational education was the key towards improving the country’s economy”.


Addressing a seminar on “Education Reforms, Opportunities and Road Map Ahead” organized by the Punjab, Haryana, Delhi Chambers of Commerce in New Delhi, the HRD Minister emphasized, “often the stigma attached by society towards vocational education dissuades parents from allowing their wards to pursue the stream.”


Adding, “To build a particular expertise the industry should come forward and ask the Ministry to set up higher education institutes in particular place where such expertise is required. For increasing investment in this sector significantly, we are trying to set up on Educational Finance Corporation to help investments in education, for re-financing facilities on long term on vary low rates on priority. Education implies expansion, inclusion and excellence”, he asserted.


In regard to the enrolment rate in India vis-à-vis developed countries, Minister Sibal said that to reach the western standard rate of 40 per cent, India required additional 1000 universities and 45,000 colleges, “It is a gargantuan task. What we need is not help in building a few universities but a large scale investment in the next 10 to 20 years,” he underscored for good measure.


This is not all. The HRD Minister also highlighted that the States support the measure. Said he, “it is important that State Ministers support us in our endeavour. If we want to prepare fifty crore children for employment by 2022, which is a national priority, then both the States and the Centre have to work together and industry should also cooperate.”


Whereby, the Vocational framework would set common principles and guidelines for a nationally recognized qualification system, covering schools, vocational education institutions and institutes of higher education with qualifications ranging from higher secondary to doctorates level, leading to international recognition of national standards.


The framework would be a competency based modular approach with provision for credit accumulation and transfer. Students would have the scope for vertical and horizontal mobility entry and exit.


Importantly, all seemed to concur with the view that educational institutions could allow their premises to be used after working hours for skill development. Moreover, to ensure the widest possible consensus on the issue, the meeting was attended by representatives from 17 States including Ministers and Secretaries, heads of the University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council Technical Education (AICTE), Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), National Council for Educational Research & Training (NCERT), National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSC) and National Institute of  Open Schooling (NIOS) and representatives from Skill Development Corporation.


Further, the HRD Ministry had also consulted several sectors on the vocational education curriculum. Among these are industry associations like ASSOCHAM, Confederation of Indian Industry and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry.


Meanwhile the President of the Australia-India Council John McCarthy emphasized that encouraging Indian students to go to Australia for quality education than pursuing subjects linked to personal residency, building on the ongoing research collaboration in science and technology and bringing vocational training expertise to India were areas Australia should concentrate.


“If as a result of our quality education, these students are eligible to stay in Australia, that’s fine. But the main purpose is that they get quality education that they can go back with the skills to their country,” he stressed.


This apart, McCarthy noted that there was a considerable fall in the number of Indian students going to Australia since suspected racial attacks on some of them but, he argued, that the numbers really did not matter. Australia was bound to give quality education to foreign students who sought it. He promised that the Australia-India Council would encourage more science and technology research, an area where significant cooperation is already on.


Pertinently, since its inception in 2006, the Australia-Indian Strategic Research Fund had supported more than 70 joint projects, involving research and institutions in both countries, in renewable energy, nano technology, agricultural research and bio-technology.


In addition, McCarthy called for greater mutual engagement in vocational education but cautioned it was not about bringing people to Australia to study vocational courses. According to him, it would be better if Australian vocational techniques were brought to India. As it was not only more economical but also that the Indian Government acknowledges they were pertinent and interesting.


According to the Australian Consul General in Chennai, David Holly, efforts by both countries were on to identify areas of skill shortage in India so as to strengthen collaboration in the vocational sector.


Referring to the mining sector, he said that the huge market growing between 8 and 9 per cent meant that there were huge opportunities for foreign traders and businesses ‘particularly for Australia in the mining sector”.


Interestingly, India was Australia’s third biggest export market, he averred. “It could benefit from Australia’s capacity in other areas such as food shortage and even the financial sector. Given the fact that Australia’s financial sector is stronger than commonly imagined. Towards that end, both countries would focus science, sports and culture as the Australia-India Council marks its 20th anniversary in 2012. ---- INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)


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