Right approach

The University Grants Commission’s (UGC) plan to introduce a bachelor’s degree in vocational education, to be called B Voc, in colleges across the country is a welcome and useful proposal. It plans to introduce these courses in about 200 colleges in the beginning and has invited applications from universities and colleges which are interested in starting them.

The courses will be part of the national skill qualification framework and will be financially aided by the UGC. Except in content, they will be like the existing BA and BSc courses, which will be reduced in the course of time. Initially they will be in 10 sectors like automobiles, telecom, building technology, tourism and entertainment. They  will  be integrated with the present scheme of education.

The introduction of such courses in colleges will help many students who want to pursue a job-oriented education. One reason for the lack of attraction for some existing vocational courses is that they are separated from general education and are offered in institutions with a low visibility and standing. The training is not always the best and there are no good linkages with the industry.  Students actually get no worthwhile training which will help them to acquire jobs later in their lives. There is even an impression that they are poor cousins of other courses and are on a low pedestal, meant for a lower class of students.

Well designed courses with a variety of subjects in established and respectable institutions will increase their acceptability. They will also provide continuity to some courses which already exist at the school level in some places. However, it will be wrong to go to the other extreme to phase out the present system of general courses, as some have demanded.

The need for education in areas like pure science and humanities will continue and should be catered to.

The role of vocational education in an economically transforming society cannot be overemphasised. China produces many times more skilled persons than India every year. In developed countries  like the US also a lot of importance is given to imparting the right vocational skills to students as part of mainstream education. India will have to create millions of new jobs every year. Since most of these will require specialised skills, the education scheme should be changed to meet the new demands.

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