Distancing degrees from jobs

Distancing degrees from jobs

tough road ahead: The closure of job-oriented courses has left little choices for rural students . dh Photo

The fate of unsuccessful and not-so-successful students in the PU II examination is more pronounced this year, with the pass percentage being a mere 49. Of the successful candidates, the academic path is a smooth ride only for a few. Those who have secured very high marks enter professional courses.

With engineering colleges mushrooming in Karnataka, a pass in the entrance examination ensures a seat. The only hitch is availability of the coveted branch.

The ongoing tussle between private college managements and the government over fee fixation has only added to the turmoil. Those who can afford to shell out the astronomical fees, pursue professional education. The victims are those who neither have the marks nor the money.

In the past, degree courses (BA, BSc, BCom) provided a viable alternative to professional courses. Things have undergone a sea change now, and the graduation courses are now looked down with contempt. The widespread opinion is that degree courses do not given an edge in the job market.

The Union government came out with National Policy on Education (NPE) in 1986 with the prominent declaration of  'delink jobs from degree.'  The policy is the first and foremost statutory document on education. The policy, as revised in 1992, laid emphasis on vocationalisation in education. It proposed that vocational courses cover 10 per cent of higher secondary students by 1995 and 25 per cent by 2000. It also provided that vocational courses should suit the local needs for rural students.

Yawning gap

The practice, however, deviated from the policy intent. No efforts were made to see that at least one per cent of higher secondary students opted for vocational courses.

Instead, Karnataka became a laboratory for all the experiments in the pre-university education. The endeavours failed. Vocational courses faded away from the spectrum of education and have survived only as remnants.

The concept of a two-year long vocational course in a fast changing world is something to be decried of.

The private players edged ahead with their short term (say, six-month-long) courses with special focus on the job skills. The result - State-designed job oriented course certificates became just a shred of paper in the job market. The situation more so for rural candidates.

The Industrial Training Institutes stand on a different footing. Of course, a handful of them run by the government are working well and churning out skilled candidates. Permissions to set up private ITIs were granted generously.

However, language barrier has come in the way of realizing the true potential of these institutes.  Rural students admitted to ITIs after SSLC do not know English and the ITIs won't teach in any other language except English. Kannada is a strict no-no at these institutes. Obviously, it's again the rural students at the receiving end.

The state of affairs clearly points to the lack of government initiative to impart job-oriented, skill-developing education in rural parts.  Consequently, the semi-learnt rural youths are compelled to eke out their livelihood doing low-paying jobs without any service security.

With the waning interest in agriculture, migration to cities in search of jobs has increased turning villages into old age homes.  The need of the hour is a policy initiative backed by political will that would explore viable and sustainable alternatives for the no-so-successful students.

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