“Pre-vocational curriculum focuses on imparting life skills rather than vocational skills, considering the students are young to understand the term vocational. Therefore, we prefer to refer to vocational subjects as life skills, which should be taught in all the schools. These skills are essential for life and should not be branded as vocational skills,” Ms. Sunanda Mane, Co-founder Lend-A-Hand India.
To learn more about pre-vocational courses at the school level, the application of theoretical learning, the adoption of pre-vocational curriculum, training of school teachers and more, we spoke with Ms. Sunanda Mane, Co-founder of Lend-A-Hand India.
Below are a few excerpts from our conversation. You can watch the full video on our YouTube channel.
Q. What are the pre-vocational courses offered in Lend-A-Hand India’s program for schools, what subjects do they cover, and how are they implemented?
A. We started offering pre-vocational courses in secondary schools in India about 15 years ago before it became popular. In 2007, we began integrating vocational education with school education, and we’re also offering it in middle schools for grades 6, 7, and 8. We did this because of NEP 2020, which emphasized the need for early vocational education for students.
The pre-vocational curriculum is designed to address the general practice of rote learning, which focuses on memorization and grades rather than proper understanding and application of knowledge. Instead, the program encourages experiential learning by integrating theoretical subjects from Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), geography, physics, and language classes into hands-on modules. By starting early, the hope is to instil essential skills like observation, communication, and analysis for success in a changing economy and entrepreneurial landscape. Overall, the pre-vocational program aims to integrate learning across all subjects and encourage a more practical and applicable approach to education.
Practical application of theoretical learning in an integrated way
We learn math, science, and geography in school, but how can we use these subjects together in real life? The curriculum we designed helps students understand how to apply theoretical learning in an integrated way in these subjects. There are 24-25 projects that cover all of these subjects, which students can work on every other week throughout the year.
Adoption of Pre-vocational curriculum in 5 states
The pre-vocational curriculum is introduced in 5 Indian states for 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade students. These states are Odisha, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, and Nagaland.
Q. Can you explain how the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) are involved in validating and approving the curriculum at the state level?
A. SCERT creates the state’s curriculum, which is adopted in schools. In Maharashtra, even non-government schools can adopt it if SCERT recommends the curriculum. Schools have the freedom to adopt these programs based on their discretion.
Q. How do you ensure that teachers are prepared to teach this curriculum? Do you provide them with any orientation or training?
A. We provide teacher training through TOTs (Training of Trainers) programs. It is recommended that the regular teacher of the respective class should conduct these sessions because they are familiar with the curriculum and students. The training programs are conducted both in-person and online.
Also read: Reimagining vocationalization of school education in India https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/reimagining-vocationalization-of-school-education-in-india/
Q. Can this curriculum be aligned with the ten bagless days proposed for schools?
A. The curriculum is designed to be hands-on and enjoyable for students, requiring minimal materials like paper, pencils, and scales for activities like creating a kite. As a result, the concept of bagless days is an offshoot of this curriculum, with ten bagless days being an option for schools to conduct any of the 24 activities depending on their infrastructure, equipment, and teacher expertise. The ten bagless days curriculum has been derived from this. It is available for any state or school interested in conducting it over ten days.
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