Vocationalisation of K-12 is the Need Today : Dr Veera Gupta, Secretary- Central Board of Secondary Education

Dr Veera Gupta, Secretary, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in conversation with Sheena Joseph, elaborates about the progress of CBSE’s current initiatives in education and also provides snippets about what we can expect from CBSE in the coming months

In order to curb commercialisation, CBSE has recently put restrictions on schools with regard to charging hefty fees. What is CBSE’s mandate in this regard?

CBSE has always supported and worked as per national policy directives. All its policies are directed towards curbing commercialisation of education. Most of the schools affiliated with CBSE are independently managed, having varied fee structures. We have been getting complaints about exorbitant fees being demanded by schools. Also there have been cases where schools have been profiteering through the sale of school uniform and textbooks at the school premises. CBSE will be coming out with a circular to curb such practices.

To address grievances from parents or student bodies regarding the fee structure, CBSE bylaws have prescribed that the school fee should be in consonance with the facilities that are offered at the school. CBSE has been regularly looking into such matters and taking relevant measures.

CBSE has proposed the introduction of ‘Body Science’ as a vocational subject for classes XI and XII. What is the importance of vocationalisation in secondary schools?

Vocationalisation is an emerging issue and since CBSE is a board for secondary and senior secondary education, it will be taking up activities towards the same in this sector.

Secondary education, as has been observed in the last few decades, has lost its character, with it being relegated to the status of merely being a precursor for higher education. Secondary school education in itself does not have an identity, ethos or personality of its own.

However, if we observe the current student trends in India, only 11% of students enter higher education after completion of their schooling. The remaining percentage of students either drop-out before completing secondary education, or might only manage to complete secondary schooling. Entering into higher education may not necessarily be an option for them.  Therefore, there has been a need to create a system where vocationalisation of school education is also given adequate importance, with focus on enhancing the skills sets of students between the age of 14-18 years.

Because of its need and requirement in the current situation, there is a sustained effort from policy makers towards vocationalisation. In principle and practice, CBSE will make all efforts to actually implement vocationalisation in its true spirit so that we can reap the advantages of India’s demographic dividend, that is, of being a young nation.

We are going to start a vocational cell which will make concentrated efforts in creating new courses, designing of new curriculum, text books, and evaluation methods to promote vocationalisation.

What is the role of technology in creating a better teaching-learning environment for students and teachers?

ICT is integral to the teaching learning process. In an age where massive expansion of education is required, we cannot do without the use of technology.

ICT is vital for dissemination of knowledge, for evaluation and for keeping data and records. The role of ICT is multi faceted and it has to be exploited to the maximum potential.

The capacity building of teachers in ICT has been a mandate of teacher training colleges and National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE). They have been taking care of the training needs in ICT.
 What is the progress of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) training by the CBSE? 

CCE was recommended long back in 1949 as a part of most of the national policies and commissions on education. It was a reform that was long due and CBSE introduced it in 2009. The batch of 2011 will be the first to pass out of the CCE assessment system. CBSE has made all efforts in order to implement it successfully in schools.

We have recently launched a project where CBSE is going to collect evidence of the actual assessments being carried out in schools, by studying the activities done by students under formative assessments. This will provide us with a major feedback on the impact it has made on student learnings as well as the level of understanding and outcomes of CCE among the teachers. The project will be initiated in a few months from now.

Overall, from the responses that we have received, both the teachers and students are satisfied with the entire process. Gradually, fears and apprehensions have allayed.

We have several plans for training of teachers in CCE. Last year we had conducted training of 40,000 teachers all over the country and in this year we are targeting 50,000 teachers.

Could you elaborate on some of the future initiatives that CBSE will initiate in the school education sector?

As expansion in education is high on the national agenda, CBSE is also looking towards expansion, while at the same time ensuring that quality education does not take a backseat. With this in mind, CBSE is going to initiate accreditation of schools which will be separate from the affiliation bylaws. Accreditation will be done by an independent agency which will not rank or rate the school but will accredit it by finding out if they meet the set quality standards. This will go a long way in ensuring quality in school education. This is one of the major initiatives which CBSE is planning in the future. 

What are your views on global collaborations among schools in India and abroad?

Diversity is always an indicator of quality. CBSE believes in this idea and this is the reason it has launched CBSE-I (International) which is an international curriculum. Under this we have around 26 schools and the aim is to prepare students for the global environment and culture. We encourage collaborations and would definitely explore opportunities for sharing ideas, expertise, knowledge and excellence globally.