Smt D Purandeswari, Minister of State, Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, provides her views on the priority accorded to the Skill Development Mission and the challenges in implementing of the education policies.
India’s strength lies in its youth population and therefore vocational and skills education is important. This is one of the reasons why the Honorable Prime Minister has kept the Skill Development Mission with himself so as to accord highest priority to the same.
What are the opportunities and scopes in the area of vocational education and skill training in India?
According to the XIth Five Year Plan, India should have 500 million skilled manpower by 2020. We have a large youth population, with 40% of the worlds children below 25 years of age living in India. It is very important to channelise this youth force in such a manner that they play a productive role in enhancing the growing Indian economy.
India’s strength lies in its youth population and therefore vocational and skill education is important. This is one of the reasons why the Honorable Prime Minister has kept the Skill Development Mission with himself so as to accord high priority to the same. Another reason for this is that, currently, the process of vocational education and skill development in India is spread across 17 ministries and departments. For example, the provision for ITI’s is with the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Polytechnics with Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the Jan Shikshan Sansthan with the Adult Education Directorate within MHRD. Coordination is important not just between ministries, but also between departments within ministries. Therefore, the Prime Minister himself looks into the roll-out and implementation process of the skill development initiatives.
What are your views on the role of Public-Private Partnership in the process of skill development?
We have announced the establishment of a large number of polytechnics, as also the establishment of Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT). But here we are also looking at Public Private Partnership since we want to create an interface with the industry. Hands on experience is important for the students studying in these polytechnics and IIITs. Therefore, partnership with industries can provide more effective and relevant industry related skill.
We are trying to work on a PPP model even at the school education level by encouraging industries to take up the initiative as a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
What are the challenges faced in the process of implementing education programmes?
The very fact that we are a large country means that the numbers itself is a challenge. Our effort and aim is to reach out to the remotest areas and provide quality education to all.
In spite of having very ambitious targets for achieving the skill mission, we also have a constitutional commitment of providing free and compulsory education to children. In this process, we are coming out with the Right to Education Act. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan has already achieved great success and we have had a large number of children successfully completing primary education. However, these are the children who will be transited into secondary education, and therefore, we also need to provide infrastructure in the secondary education level. This is why we came out with the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan. Further efforts are required to cater to the needs of the higher and vocational education segment.
One of the major challenges is providing quality education. Until now, we have been concentrating on infrastructure provisions. But lately we also have to look into issues of quality and checking the kind of curriculum that we are offering. National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has supported us through the National Curriculum Framework. Yet we need to upgrade our curriculum on a constant basis.
Therefore, providing access, equity and relevance in education is important at all levels.
Please share your thoughts on the Indira Gandhi National Open University (|GNOU) initiated Associated Degree Programmes in Skill Development and Vocational Education.
IGNOU has introduced the concept of Community Colleges in India. Students who may have completed secondary schooling and wish to enroll for a skill development programme can take up the Programme and enroll in a profession of their choice. After a few years, if the student wishes to complete his/her higher secondary schooling, such option is also available. Therefore this system ensures muti-lateral entry and exit possibilities. One advantage of this system is that the stigma associated with vocational training is also removed, since students get to be familiar with skill training and also have the option of completing their studies.
IGNOU is one of the largest open universities. It exemplifies how distance and open education can reach millions of masses. They have come out with various areas specific programmes and region specific programmes as a part of their Community Colleges initiative.
IGNOU is one of the largest open universities. It exemplifies how distance and open education can reach millions of masses. They have come out with various area specific programmes and region specific programmes. There are tremendous possibilities for skill development with the huge youth population.
The Community College can be seen as an innovative educational alternative for providing skill based, livelihood enhancing education and eligibility for employment to the disadvantaged and under privileged. The XIth Five Year Plan prescription identifies and emphasises the role of INGOU in taking a lead in this alternative mode of education for the unreached community.