National Education Framework 2005 in implementation of Vocational Education [NEF 2005]
At present, Vocational Education is provided only at the +2 stage and, even here, it is restricted to a distinct stream that is parallel to the academic stream. In contrast to the NPE 1986 goal of covering 25 per cent of the +2 enrolment in the vocational stream by the year 2000, less than 5 per cent of students choose this option at present.
The programme has been debilitated by a range of conceptual, managerial and resource constraints for more than 25 years. Apart from being viewed as an inferior stream, it suffers from poor infrastructure, obsolete equipment, untrained or underqualified teachers (often on a part-time basis), outdated and inflexible courses, lack of vertical or later al mobility, absence of linkage with the ‘world of work’, lack of a credible evaluation, accreditation and apprenticeship system, and, finally, low employability (Report of the Working Group for the Revision of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Vocationalisation of Secondary Education, NCERT, 1998). Clearly, the gigantic and urgent task of building an effective and dynamic programme of vocational education is long overdue. Institutionalisation of work-centred education as an integral part of the school curriculum from the pre-primary to the +2 stage is expected to lay the necessary foundation for reconceptualising and restructuring vocational education to meet the challenges of a globalised economy.
It is proposed, therefore, that we move in a phased manner towards a new programme of Vocational Education and Training (VET), which is conceived and implemented in a mission mode, involving the establishment of separate VET centres and institutions from the level of village clusters and blocks to sub-divisional/ district towns and metropolitan areas. Wherever possible, it would be in the national interest to utilise the school infrastructure (often utilised for only a part of the day) for setting up this new institutional structure for VET. Such VET centres/ institutions also need to be evolved in collaboration with the nationwide spectrum of facilities already existing in this sector. This will imply the expansion of the scope of institutions like ITIs, polytechnics, technical schools, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, rural development agencies, primary health centres (and the success of the VET programme is also critically dependent upon building up a credible system of evaluation, equivalence, institutional accreditation (extending to ‘work benches’ and individual expertise) and apprenticeship. Care has to be taken to ensure that such standardisation does not become a negative tool for rejecting/ disqualifying the diverse knowledge and skills that characterise the different regions of India, especially the economically underdeveloped regions like the North-east, hilly tracts, the coastal belt and the central Indian tribal region. An appropriate structural space and a welcoming environment will have to be created in the VET centres and institutions for engaging farmers, animal husbandry, fishery and horticulture specialists, artisans, mechanics, technicians, artists, and other local service providers (including IT) as resource persons or guest faculty. The eligibility for VET courses could be relaxed to include a Class V certificate until the year 2010, when the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is expected to achieve UEE, but subsequently it must be raised to Class VIII certificate and eventually to Class X certificate when the target year of universal secondary education is reached. In no case, however, would children below the age of 16 years be eligible for admission to a VET programme. VET centres could also act as skill and hobby centres for all children from the primary stage onwards, and could be accessed before or after school hours. Such centres should also be available for schools to negotiate a collaborative arrangement for the work-centred curriculum even during school hours. In order to translate this vision of VET into practice, several new support structures and resource institutions will have to be created at various levels, including districts, states/ UTs and the centre, besides strengthening and reviving the existing national resource institutions like NCERT’s PSSCIVE at Bhopal.