Thursday, March 19, 2015

BIS # 4406 PRIVATE ITIs, SAFE OR ENDANGERED?

by Mr. Amar Prabhu

KURLA-MUMBAI, MARCH 19, 2015: Industrial training has traditionally been seen as potent grooming for a professional career of a student who has passed SSC. It is also the common method of harvesting skilled technicians. One of the biggest challenges as well as advantage that India faces today, is its growing young population. The average Indian will be approx. only 29 years old by2020.The Government of India aims to create 500 million skilled workers by 2022. There is some uncertainty with regard to reaching this goal. 


One of the reasons for this is the recent draconian changes introduced by the government that have dealt a body blow not only to the institutions offering Technical Training but even worse, the huge burden thrust on enrolled students  concerning the teaching learning as well as assessment of this two year Certificate of Competency program.  It was not surprising therefore that Principals and faculty members from different corners of Maharashtra  and a few neighbouring states gathered under the aegis of Association of Non-Government ITIs (ANGITI),  at St. Joseph's Industrial Training Institute, DBCL, Kurla on March 15, 2015. 


The purpose of the meeting of these heads of institutions with years of experience was to discuss the merits and demerits of the changes introduced by the government regarding the functioning of Technical Training Institutes and to unitedly present proposals that would best contribute to making the young employable achieve targets as set by the Government of India. The gathering was addressed by Mr. Shahane, Vice President- Corporate Training Tech., L&T and Chairman of Mentor –Council Production Sector, DGE&T  the Chief Guest for the day. He noted that training needed to be industry relevant, and the stake holders – Institute, State & the Central Government – needed to work together to make Mission 2026 a reality. 


The presence of Shri Vinod Tawde- Technical & Higher Technical Education Minister, Maharashtra, was quite motivating for everyone since a face to face question and answer session was held. The participants brought to his notice several anomalies in the new policies concerning the way Technical Institutions are called to function. Institutions which had permanent affiliation were required to get re-affiliated. The fee for both old and new applicants is Rs. 75,000/-. QCI inspection is required to be recommended for affiliation. This would happen every three years. All institutions would have to be accredited, even brand new ones. This was indeed very puzzling. Institutions would be graded by one of three agencies for a fee of Rs. 50,000/- or more. No mention is made as to what benefits institutions would receive after being accredited. 


The Semester Pattern introduced was severely thrashed. If students would be assessed every six months, this would result in a rushed theoretical teaching and very little or no exposure to practical skills, so very essential to a technician. It was shown how the syllabus has been drawn up with no consultation with SMEs or Small Scale industries. So it does not match industrial skill requirement that would ensure a job on completion of course. There is no logical flow of skill learning and the equipment list does not match the syllabus. With no hands on training on machines the young person is ill equipped for a job in the industry. 


The new assessment pattern is complicated and severely loaded against the student. The Optical Magnetic Reading method used is so very difficult for students to understand. Negative marking, clubbing of subjects, re-exams in both even if someone fails in one of the two subjects, this is a recipe for the dropout numbers to soar or even dissuade students from joining technical courses thus adding to the social problems. No where in the world is the semester pattern used for Certificate of Competency courses.


 All the members strongly felt that there has been a sheer lack of understanding of the kind of candidate who takes up technical courses. Distaste for long theoretical classroom based learning, slow at grasping concepts, preference for hands on approach are some of their characteristics. Learning through doing and preference for assessment of what the student can do in the required competency upto the required proficiency are some of the reasons why students opt and prefer Competency based technical courses. This new pattern that Technical institutions are obliged to follow has no consideration for the student at all and would be disastrous for all concerned.
 
The Honourable Minister assured the audience that necessary amendments would be made benefiting the skill development program for the ITIs in Maharashtra. Mr. Pathak - Director Advance training Institute- Mumbai Representative deputed by DGET –New Delhi also acknowledged the necessity to bring necessary changes in the current policies and showed willingness to work at implementing changes.


Mr. Amarr G. Prabhu- Principal, St. Joseph's Industrial Training Institute and the Treasurer of ANGITI thanked the participants who had travelled from far and near to unitedly express their views to the government and in the process recognizing that the nine thousand private ITI's in the country should have a greater say in formulating policies with regard to skills training.

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