Lying in the lap of easternmost Himalayan hills are the eight states constituting North-East India, namely, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. Spread over an area of 2,55168 sq km as one of the most ethically and linguistically diverse regions in Asia, each state has its distinct cultures and traditions described as a “rainbow country, extraordinarily diverse and colourful, mysterious when seen through parted clouds”.
North East India has developed a network of education generally that is fairly wide and accessible to the majority of its population with a large number of institutions from the primary to the university level. The NE states have a high literacy level, higher than the all India average of 64.8% and female literacy rate of 53.7%. In contrast, in the North Eastern Region (NER) the literacy level stands at 68.5% and 61.5% respectively. However, in the NER the high level does not indicate a high level of productivity in the region or higher employability of the educated labour force.
In the NE Region nearly 80% of the enrolment in the college level institutions is in the Arts/Humanities stream. Writing in the context of higher education in the region, the North East Region Vision 2020 notes that ‘higher education infrastructure in the region has focused largely upon producing college graduates in the arts and social sciences, who have looked to the government for employment.’ Although attempts have been made to introduce vocational education at the +2 level in North East India, not much emphasis was given to it as a stream of study. The infrastructure and activities of the ITIs in North East India also has not come much into the limelight. The North Eastern Council (NEC) statistics of 2006 indicate that the total amount of them, which includes the new ones, plus the strengthening of the old ones, is around 55, with Assam having the highest‘higher education infrastructure in the region has focused largely upon producing college graduates in the arts and social sciences, who have looked to the government for employment.’ Although attempts have been made to
introduce vocational education at the +2 level in North East India, not much emphasis was given to it as a stream of study. The infrastructure and activities of the ITIs in North East India also has not come much into the limelight. The North Eastern Council (NEC) statistics
of 2006 indicate that the total amount of them, which includes the new ones, plus the strengthening of the old ones, is around 55, with Assam having the highest – over 20.
Indira Gandhi National Open University n its endeavour to bring quality education o the Region has further expanded its activities in the Region by establishing theIGNOU Institute for Vocational Education and Training (IIVET) at Shillong, Meghalaya to equip people with skills and knowledge to expand their life choices. Keeping this in mind and the National Policy on Skill Development and the Vision 2020 for the NE Region, IIVET endeavours to focus on three areas of training: those which fuel the development of the region such as, agro-based activities, water conservation, organic farming, horticulture, tourism and paramedical sciences; those that tap the opportunities created by global trendsand expanding professions, the most obvious being IT and ITES sectors; andareas which focus on ‘core competencies’ of the people in the region, that is, in areas that the people of the region have an innate talent and interest, such as, fashion technology and product design,airlines industry, sports and physical fi tness and music, or those based on indigenous knowledge and technology, such as, bamboo, silk, traditional textiles and so on.Hence, IIVET has two broad sections – one focuses on contemporary vocational training and the other on indigenous knowledge and technology which focuses on selecting/identifying the indigenous skills, if necessary value add them for the contemporary society and imparttraining in such skills, which will become livelihood generating. Accordingly, IIVET envisages a plan of action that is multi ayered – it aims to create a work force among the youth of the region through wage employment or self employment in both the organised and the unorganised sector by imparting skills in pre-service conditions, to impart training for skills upgradation to in service workers,to certify prior knowledge of unskilled workers, to give to the term ‘Vocation’ fresh and long standing implication; from manual labour skills, skills for mechanics, electricians etc, literacy and numeracy, to training for people on their jobs such as school services management, IT training, training on writing and speaking skills. Against the backdrop of the Government of India’s and the NationalKnowledge Commission’s emphasis onVocational Education, IIVET will strive to fulfi l this objective by garnering private public partnership and the industry academic alliance, to establish career counselling centres for the educated
youth of the region and to help form entrepreneurial skills and self help groups after training programmes among the youth and women. IIVET attempts to impart skill development to both skilled and unskilled workers in the form of both short term and long term training
programmes ranging from 5 days to 3-4 months.
THE FOCUSED AREA
Amongst the many segments of the society that will be identifi ed and targeted for vocational educational and training will be the educated unemployed, school drop outs, street children, domestic workers, the differently abled and artisans. IIVET will network and collaborate with
community based organisations, local educational and fi nancial institutions as well as government departments of the States of the NE Region, including Polytechnics, ITIs and Common Service Centres. Amongst the several trainingprogrammes already orga ised and conducted by IIVET are in the areas of Community Radio, Tally Accounting Software, Multi skilled & Leadership Development for girls, Mobile Hardware & Software Maintenance, Advance Auto CAD, Bamboo based Handicrafts,Computer Literacy & Communication Skills for Domestic Workers, Conversational English Courses, Technician (Masonry) Machine Operator-Injection Moulding and Plastic Processing , Electrical Wiring integrated with Computer Literacy and repair of Electrical HouseholdAppliances. IIVET is also envisaged and strongly recommended as a research centrewhere there will be need assessment studies, follow up all the workshops and training programmes, by keeping in constant touch with the participants .
The obstacles of vocational education in an open university are many and impinge upon the very mechanisms and methodologies of a distance education and open university such as IGNOU. IIVET will have an innovative model by using the best of all forms of technology: relevant and appropriate to regional expectations and preferences. Technology aided
instruction with the use of broadcasts, telecasts and the Internet for delivery services will be blended with face to face mode of instruction with emphasis on skill based activities and practical work.Judicious use of technology and print materials will be used to augment and
enhance such training. A holistic planning in vocational education is essential if we have to provide to the North Eastern Region enough opportunities for gainful employment leading to income generation, increase in productivity and development of the individual through his recognition and identity as a contributor to the sustained development of the Region