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Posts Tagged ‘Vocational course’

How serious is unemployment issue in Manipur state now and how this issue relates to Higher Education (HE) institutions in the state? Also, at what level in the ‘priority list to tackle first’, the state govt considers these two issues; thereby deciding the financial budget allocation and timely execution through a strategic planning approach? HE_unemployment_01We may need to review all available policies, support systems and prevailing operating scenarios of HE institutes and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) within Manipur state in order to come up with a rather holistic integrated support system. Current socio-economic chaos in Manipur state may be transformed into opportunities if we are able to find means to create employment for youth in relevant industry sectors, and knowledge transfer from HE institutions to youth and local enterprises by enabling them to lead the society.

Currently, HE policy of state govt seems to focus entirely on (1) building and refurbishing physical infrastructure, (2) hiring and supervising academic staffs, (3) scholarships for students to study outside Manipur (rather than capacity building within the state). Also, state govt seems to focus on another parallel educational policy i.e. imparting vocational school (10th or 12th) level training to youths of Manipur either by sending the students outside Manipur or allowing training companies from outside Manipur to deliver short-term courses for local students within the state. State govt has thus started pumping in more funds to the above areas and hopes to bring about quality as well as quantitative improvements within Manipur. But, the interesting question is ‘Is this current approach really working towards improving HE sector within Manipur?’, or ‘what are the impacts achieved so far toward local economy and graduate employability?’, and ‘is there anything else that state govt missed to consider in the current HE policy?’

Most HE sector issues reported in the local media are of institutional related – such as regularization of ad-hoc lecturers in colleges, mismanagement of scholarship funds meant for students, lack of classrooms and equipments to support teaching, cases of students and academics indulging in malpractices in examinations, lack of principals and qualified lecturers in specific colleges, non attendance of staffs in colleges, less or no students getting admitted to study in various degree courses at specific colleges, etc. Yet, none has seriously looked into the issue of employability for graduates out of colleges and universities within Manipur, and the scarcity of non-govt jobs availability within Manipur.

The HE sector policy of govt rather ought to aim at providing 3 key priority needs at each individual college within Manipur – (1) Infrastructure development for creating ‘Centres of Excellence’ oriented to specifically chosen domain knowledge of local/global relevance, (2) Administrative support staffs having expertise in running HE institutions at world class level, (3) Professional support staffs having expertise in career grooming and local enterprise development support for graduates. State govt’s funding budget in the above three areas may be 50-75% of the overall HE sector allocation. This approach may help in turning around the brain drain scenario of Manipur state i.e. Manipuri students going outside the state to study degree courses and high quality Manipuri professionals leaving the state to teach/work in HE institutions of other states. Thus, chance for quality as well as quantity improvement in HE sector can be seen within Manipur state.

Govt’s policy of introducing vocational school level (10th or 12th std) training courses seems to give conflicting message to the students, as it hints as if the degree level courses provided in various colleges within Manipur are useless to the local job environment. Also, most parents may not wish their wards to choose vocational school level course as compared to degree level courses. A vocational student may learn skills to get a low-level job (though maybe of highly advanced technology) within Manipur or outside the state, but career growth for such vocational students is bound to be of low level in any organizational hierarchy. It’s because they are of skill-based training rather than domain knowledge-based learning unlike in the case of graduate courses.

The graduate courses currently opened in various colleges within Manipur are of traditional nature which is about learning basic science, or arts, or commerce. The applicability of such traditional degree course to the needs of current industry jobs elsewhere or any relevant jobs within local Manipur environment is very hard to find. Either course contents of degree courses ought to be adapted to application oriented learning modules, or new local industry relevant degree courses need to be introduced freshly to all the colleges within Manipur. Again, if govt is trying to retrain youths especially college graduates after having studied 3yrs at one of the colleges in Manipur into another school level vocational training courses, then, it will mean that college students have not only wasted three years of their lifetime in colleges but also govt has wasted crores of Indian Rupee in running ‘white elephant’ colleges in Manipur.

Graduate related issues of HE sector are also relevant to the local enterprises within Manipur, because high technology intensive industrial growth will define availability of jobs which is of graduate level (rather than school level or vocational skills level). State govt needs to consider availability of skilled manpower and capable enterprises in each relevant industry sector before forming growth supporting industrial policies in those sectors. HE sector not only provides skilled manpower for the industry, but also, creates research outputs that support industrial applications and products through R&D activities of academics and scientist in HE institutions. Thus, industrial policies of govt correlates strongly with the HE sector policies. Such strong relationship between academics in HE institutions and industry companies are visible in most developed countries (UK, Germany, France, USA, etc).

Relevant state govt department may create funding pots for SMEs that provides funding support to allow employees to study graduate level professional courses and training programmes in HE institutions within Manipur. Each HE institutions may be encouraged to create a centre of excellence via funding from relevant state govt department to help SMEs in that industry sector. Thus, such approach will brings about enterprise oriented HE policies and creation of more jobs in the local economy because of active participation of SMEs in HE policy formation.

We are yet to fill the gap in policies governing supporting HE sector and growth of SMEs in various industry sectors within Manipur. Hence, in spite of funding heavily on HE sector, Manipuri students are leaving after school education to study outside the state. Also, we can’t see any visible industrial growth in various sectors in spite of heavy funding by the state govt, since we don’t have the requisite industrial manpower locally and professionally working mindset culture in the local enterprises. Thus, it is the right time we tackle both the issues of youth employability and industrial growth by creating an integrated support system within Manipur.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

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We seemed to come out more worried when we got out of schools and different from how we used to be when we got in. In schools, we seemed to have pick up lots of phobia and been hardcoded to do only few predefined tasks ahead in our lives. As a kid, we used to be carefree to try new things, naughty to explore ideas out of curiosity, and daring to go roads not yet taken. For humanity to progress, we do need balancing the attitude in our school education system between protectiveness for security in future and creativity for innovation.

The complete education system ought to be seen as a structure enabling multiple entry and exit doors. Reading about ‘Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)’ of UK and European Qualifications Framework (EQF) of European Union (EU) may throw some ideas about the need to have an education framework that maps various learning programs we’ve got (such as certificate, diploma, degree, etc) into a tiered-leveling structure specifying knowledge, skills and competence imparted in each level. Not all kids go to college after schools and thus, we can visualize ‘passing out from school’ as an exit door to the society (and from the education system). So, the schools ought to impart relevant skills and visions to the kids before they pass out of school to be able to fit and contribute into the society we live.

Entrepreneurship is not merely about a course to be studied but a philosophy that needs to be embedded into our mindsets in every field of activities or studies. There isn’t a better place and time to embed entrepreneurship principles than inspiring to young minds during the school days through the school curriculum and extra-curriculum activities. Teenagers out of schools ought to feel empowered enough to explore the career each one desires with the underlying principle of ‘Entrepreneurship = Success’. Interestingly, European Commission has been investing huge time and money (in millions of Euros) to its constituent EU countries since a decade on ‘Enabling teachers as a critical success factor towards entrepreneurship education in schools’ and ‘Embedding entrepreneurship education at school in Europe through national strategies, curricula and learning outcomes’.

Latest news about inclusion of vocational courses at various schools in Manipur may seem like a welcoming thrust for socio-economic development in nearby towns/villages where the schools are located. Yet, it should not be implemented as dislocated add-on arrangement to the current educational system in place. Otherwise, strategy to implement vocational courses in schools may turn out to be a failed programme after investing huge funds in crores, time and efforts. No matter how useful the vocational courses may be, most parents will not wish their wards to study vocational courses as compared to general Science/Commerce/Arts courses in schools. We got to understand that every parents dream of their wards to be doctors, or, engineers, or, IAS officers in future; and the current implementation approach of vocational courses do not show the feasibility of vocational students to be groomed towards a long-term career than a low-level ad-hoc jobs after undertaking those vocational courses.

We need to review the current approach of school education system and come up with a combined framework that provides an appropriately balanced structure of (1) hands-on vocational skills learning, (2) embedded entrepreneurship principles, (3) instilled social responsibility ethics, and (4) imparted basics of knowledge for future. Manipur state can be the first state in India to come up with a standard education framework before other states in India (instead of just being followers always as in the past). It’s time to let go of the old concept of school being just only ‘a building with few teachers to teach local kids in pre-defined course books’.

Regarding course contents for primary school education, the basic set of courses may comprise of (1) Science & Technology, (2) Social Sciences, (3) Citizenship, (4) Languages, and (5) Physical Education. Teaching and learning methods in each course ought to have hands-on practical projects/workshops for applying theories into action both in individual as well as team modes. Inclusion of something like ‘Citizenship’ course subject (as in USA and EU countries) as part school education is very essential considering the diversity of India as a nation and Manipur’s history within India. This ‘citizenship’ course subject may focus on building social responsibility concept on growing up kids and imparting ‘common sense’ input to students for social impact locally. Also, imparting computer/Technology related contents in each of the subjects within school education is necessary to avoid viewing computer skills learning as a stand-alone subject. Lastly, inclusion of more workshops and project works in individual or team as part of school course structure is essential to apply entrepreneurship skills in action.

Regarding course contents for secondary school education, the basic set of courses may still packaged as now (science, arts and commerce streams) and yet include the aspects of (1) Applied Innovation (as add-on workshop or project works of the learned concepts in both individual and team modes), (2) Next-Career Ready Knowledge (to support students in preparing for various entrance exams to professional studies after 12th standard), (3) Exit-to-Society Ready Skills (to include vocational skills which are still useful and relevant to serve jobs for industries within the scope of science, arts and commerce streams). Current school system tends to produce ‘top scoring students’ who lacks in professional personality attribute due to current school education system not focusing on soft-skills aspect too which is in fact found to be the most critical factor to instilling leadership and management quality in one’s future professional career. Course delivery approaches ought to contain feasibility of students to speak/debate/exhibit their learning out of the teaching in classes in open forum or competitive event as applied innovation.

As just like the saying ‘A happy family produces wonderful kids’ means, we should consider welfare and working aspiration of school teachers on the similar priority level as the need for students to be taught the necessary knowledge and skills for their future. Schools (at primary and secondary levels) can be made to be more enjoyable places to interact for not only students and teachers but also among local communities around the schools. Vocational courses aligned to already delivering school curriculum may be imparted out of schools by school teachers as certificate courses (on free mode or pay-as-you-learn mode) for public in the local community either as short-term course or annual course. School teachers may be also encouraged to apply bids for funding from state govt to undertake extra-curricular projects in the local community which may complement the learning and teaching of the respective school courses; such as supporting disable students to learn, guiding teenagers outside schools to apply school learning into social activities, etc. Thus, a career in school education for school teachers may be transformed into an exciting career option and local schools can also become self-sustaining institutions by generating revenues through delivering locally appropriate vocational courses for a fee to public.

To instill ‘Entrepreneurship’ passion into young minds, we first need to create a thriving entrepreneurship culture in the schools. Right from providing motivated teaching staffs (with clear and exciting career in school education) to creating course-contents package (for kids entering schools to exit as empowered teenagers ready to face whatever comes in future instead of phobic youth towards the complex world out there in future), we have to review the current school education system in a more holistic and transparent approach of ‘Cause-Impact’ analysis. Since education is to empower our younger generation to lead humanity towards a better world, we have to teach our kids that ‘Entrepreneurship equals Success’.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

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