The role of NITTTR, Chandigarh in improving standards of technical education and empowering persons with disabilities (PWDs) in India


To make technical teaching effective, teachers need to learn continuously, keep themselves updated with industry developments and have access to the current domain knowledge. In this Skill Talk by Dr. J S Saini, Professor, Rural Development and Dean – Extension Services and Consultancy, NITTTR, Chandigarh, we get to know how the institute works closely with the government and the industry in improving the standards of technical education by empowering technical teachers in India. He also tells us how NITTTR, Chandigarh has gone beyond its mandate to support the cause of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in India.

The four NITTTRs – Chandigarh, Bhopal, Kolkata and Chennai – were established during 1965-1967 to improve the quality of technician education in India by imparting training to the polytechnic teachers. In the initial years NITTTR – Chandigarh, continued offering Diploma in Technical Teaching as a formal qualification to the Polytechnic teachers. During 1970s, as technical education expanded, polytechnics started getting Degree holders as teachers. Hence, the Diploma course got saturated by the beginning of 1980s and we decided to help polytechnic teachers by enhancing their qualifications with a masters program. That’s how our unique industry-oriented and practice-based M.Tech/ M. E. programs were conceived with a strong alignment with the industry.

NITTTR Chandigarh - PWD program

NITTTR’s role in policy level decisions

Policy level decisions for higher education in India happen in two domains. Technical education policies are, by and large, evolved by MHRD in consultation with AICTE. And for general education, it is decided by MHRD in consultation with UGC. All the four NITTTRs are regularly consulted by MHRD, UGC, AICTE, State Board of Technical Education and State Directorates of Technical Education for policy level discussions. Such decisions could be pertaining to teaching-learning, student evaluation, curriculum design and implementation, multi- point entry and credit system etc.

Working with polytechnic colleges

Since 1991, under the World Bank assisted Project on Technical Education, several projects for improving the quality of technical education have been undertaken across the country. We have played an active role in implementing different projects by facilitating the flow of finances from World Bank to government of India and thereafter to different states and polytechnics in those states. We have successfully introduced multi- point credit system and this has enabled lateral entry for the polytechnic students; today these students can join the second year of engineering courses after earning the credits.

Teacher education and research

We are responsible for the concept, design and implementation of the curriculum for polytechnics and keeping the technical teachers updated with latest developments in technical education. The institute acts like a resource center for the entire system of technical education in the country. The institute helps National Board of Accreditation for mentoring and evaluating technical institutes for award of NBA. We are also facilitating implementation and monitoring of “Sub-mission on Polytechnics”- a very ambitious program of government on India regarding polytechnics that was introduced in the 11th five-year plan and is continuing through 12th plan.

Skill development and entrepreneurship support

Since 2011, we have been actively involved in promoting National Vocational Education Qualification Framework, which was later renamed as National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) during 2013. We have also provided inputs for choice based credit system for implementation of NSQF through polytechnics and community colleges. For example, we lend our expertise by contributing to the National Occupational Standards (NOS) and Qualification Packs (QPs) when invited by the Sector Skill Councils (SSCs). We have signed an MoU with the Telecom SSC to conduct programs for trainers, making qualified trainers available to Telecom SSCs.

Regarding support for campaigns like Make in India and Skill India, we have already submitted our proposal for International Skill Development Center at NITTTR. Chandigarh administration has earmarked 3.5 acres of land for this project. We are going to take up train-the-trainer program in three important areas: infrastructure development, energy sector and software development.

Our aim is to prepare master trainers. Once you have a pool of master trainers, they can facilitate setting up of new industries and training large number of people. This may become operational in three years from now. In the meantime we are also looking for some interim arrangement to start skill development program in a rental facility.

Our initiatives in the area of entrepreneurship development and promotion of self-employment will definitely contribute to Make in India. For over 35 years, we’ve been offering entrepreneurship awareness for students of polytechnics, engineering colleges, management institutions and degree colleges. We also organize entrepreneurship development program for specialized groups like science and technology or rural students and women. And over the years we have seen almost 30 to 35% of our trainees, set up their own enterprises, and some of them have been adjudged as the best science and technology entrepreneurs in the country by winning awards at the national level. Many of our programs are organized in collaboration with Colombo Plan Staff College, Manila, Department of Science and Technology, Govt of India, NIESBUD, New Delhi and Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India at Ahmedabad.

Social responsibility – empowerment of PWDs

The four NITTTRs work with 50 polytechnics, and almost 30000 PWDs have been trained through our non-formal vocational programs and approximately 3000 PWDs have undergone three-year polytechnic level diploma courses in various trades.

We have been working in the area of empowerment of PWDs for the past 16 years. We act as a resource institute for a scheme titled “Integrating Persons with Disabilities in the Mainstream of Technical and Vocational Education”. This is a national level scheme, sponsored by MHRD, and we are the coordinators for northern zone.

We also have established a dedicated vocational training center for PWDs in collaboration with Sarthak Educational Trust, Delhi, Tech Mahindra Foundation and NITTTR, Chandigarh. The process involves mobilizing PWDs, imparting vocational training and matching their skills with jobs. In the past two years we have trained 400 persons with disabilities, almost 70% of them are successfully placed. Thus we have created real inclusive environment for PWDs and empowered them to lead a respectable and dignified life. In 2013, the President of India gave the National Award for the Empowerment of PWDs as we were declared the “Best Institution” in the country for this cause

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