Vocational education opens up career paths that are distinct from traditional trades streams as science, engineering or commerce. It provides the necessary life skills as well as the right skillsets for relevant employment in the industry. So, it is crucial for students to undergo vocational training right from their school level to build their expertise and enhance their employability in the future.
To know more about the importance and benefits of vocationalization of school education, we caught up with Mr Raj Gilda, Co-Founder, Lend A Hand India. Below are a few excerpts from our conversation.
You can watch the full video on our YouTube channel.
Q: Please tell us more about ‘Lend A Hand India.’
A: ‘Lend A Hand India’ started in 2006-07 when there was no awareness about vocational education. We started with two schools and now we have come a long way. When Lend A Hand India started, there was no awareness of the importance of vocational education in India. The scenario has changed to a great extent as people have become more aware of vocational education and are accepting it more open-heartedly.
Q: What is your take on mainstreaming vocational education?
A: There has always been a stigma behind vocational education that it is only for rural or tribal people who cannot afford mainstream education. However, it should be a part of mainstream education for the students in urban areas as well. It can be an option for those who don’t want to choose streams like medicine or engineering.
Now, only government schools are offering vocational education for grades nine and twelfth under the Samagra Shiksha Scheme on vocationalization of school education. However, vocational education shouldn’t be limited to government schools and we need to bring vocational education even to private schools.
Q: How did you overcome the challenges of delivering vocational education in schools?
A: In our experience so far, parents are now in favour of vocational education. They are becoming aware of how significant vocational education is. The establishment and awareness creation through various schemes and initiatives is playing a crucial role in the growing acceptance of vocational education. The vernacular medium students face enrolment issues, however, now the dropout percentage is gradually decreasing.
All our curriculum and resources are in alignment with the NSQF levels. Also, a few discussions are being held on the need to develop specialised standards for schools as the students, today, look for broader skill exposure rather than only employment.
With NEP 2020 talking about 50 per cent of schools having access to vocational education by 2025, the need for imparting vocational education from the school level has become a crucial aspect of all the schools, including private schools.
Q: How do you make sure that students are aligned to multiple trades and exposed to various career options?
A: As our education has a general curriculum till tenth grade, students have to choose their stream only after the tenth. However, at Lend A Hand, we ensure that the students are exposed to different trades like carpentry, gardening, and stitching during their ninth and tenth standards.
As far as employment is concerned, there are a lot of schemes available for the short-term training programme. In the government policies, there should be a scheme for students who remain in school studying and are not sure about their career options.
Also Read: Lend-A-Hand India : Stories of vocational education in schools https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/lend-a-hand-vocational-education/
Q: Is there anything specific you wish to mention regarding vocational education from the school level?
A: Unless the students are exposed to field training or the outside world, the training or tools don’t work. Tying up with local industries, on-the-job training should be made mandatory for vocational education to become successful.
We need to involve each and every person in the skill development initiatives. At Lend A Hand, we are currently starting with an internship opportunity in small and medium enterprises to provide much-needed industry exposure to the students. We have also introduced internships, especially for girl students to learn and prepare them for life in the process.