At present, Vocational Education is provided only at
the +2 stage and, even here, it is restricted to a distinct
stream that is parallel to the academic stream. In
contrast to the NPE 1986 goal of covering 25 per cent
of the +2 enrolment in the vocational stream by the
year 2000, less than 5 per cent of students choose this
option at present. The programme has been debilitated
by a range of conceptual, managerial and resource
constraints for more than 25 years. Apart from being
viewed as an inferior stream, it suffers from poor
infrastructure, obsolete equipment, untrained or underqualified
teachers (often on a part-time basis), outdated
and inflexible courses, lac k of vertical or later al mobility,
absence of linkage with the ‘world of work’, lack of a
credible evaluation, accreditation and apprenticeship
system, and, finally, low employability (Report of the
Working Group for the Revision of the Centrally
Sponsored Scheme of Vocationalisation of Secondary
Education, NCERT, 1998)

. Clearly, the gigantic and

urgent task of building an effective and dynamic
programme of vocational education is long overdue.
Institutionalisation of work-centred education as an
integral part of the school curriculum from the preprimary
to the +2 stage is expected to lay the necessary
foundation for reconceptualising and restructuring
vocational education to meet the challenges of a
globalised economy.
It is proposed, therefore, that we move in a
phased manner towards a new programme of
Vocational Education and Training (VET), which is
conceived and implemented in a mission mode,
involving the establishment of separate VET centres
and institutions from the level of village clusters and
blocks to sub-divisional/ district towns and
metropolitan areas. Wherever possible, it would be in
the national interest to utilise the school infrastructure
(often utilised for only a part of the day) for setting up
this new institutional structure for VET. Such VET
centres/ institutions also need to be evolved in
collaboration with the nationwide spectrum of facilities
already existing in this sector. This will imply the
expansion of the scope of institutions like ITIs,
polytechnics, technical schools, Krishi Vigyan Kendras,
rural development agencies, primary health centres (and
their auxilliary services), engineering, agricultural and
medical colleges, S & T laboratories, cooperatives and
specialised industrial training in both the private and
public sectors. These measures would natur ally call for
shifting and adjusting the resources of the present
6,000 – odd senior secondary schools with vocational
streams by dovetailing them with the new VET
programme. The vocational education teachers engaged
in these schools at present should have the option of
either being absorbed in to the work-centred education
programme in the same school or being able join a
new VET centre or institution in the region.
VET would be designed for all those children
who wish to acquire additional skills and/or seek
livelihoods through vocational education after either
discontinuing or completing their school education.
Unlike the present vocational education stream, VET
should provide a ‘preferred and dignified’ choice rather
than a terminal or ‘last-resort’ option. As with the
school, these VET institutions would also be designed
to be inclusive, providing for skill development of not
just those children who have historically suffered due
to their economic, social or cultural backgrounds, but
also of the physically and mentally disabled. A
well-designed provision of career psychology and
counselling as a critical development tool would enable
children to systematically plan their movement towards
their future vocations or livelihoods, and also guide
the institutional leadership in curricular planning and
evaluation. The proposed VET shall offer flexible and
modular certificate or diploma courses of varying
durations (including short durations) emerging from
the contextual socio-economic scenario. Decentralised
planning of these courses at the level of individual VET
centres/ institutions and/or clusters thereof would have
to keep in mind the ongoing rapid changes in
technology and patterns of production and services in
a given area, along with the diminishing access to natural
resources and livelihoods for the vast majority of the
people. The courses would provide multiple entry and
exit points with in-built credit accumulation facility. Each
course will also have an adequate academic component
(or a provision for a bridge course or both) in order
to ensure lateral and vertical linkages with the academic
and professional programmes. The strength of a VET
centre would lie in its capacity to offer a variety of
options depending upon the felt need of the aspirants.
The VET curriculum should be reviewed and
updated from time to time if the programme is not to
become moribund and irrelevant to the vocations and
livelihoods in a given area or region. The centre
in-charges or institutional leadership would need to have
access to adequate infrastructure and resources as well
as be vested with the necessary authority and academic
freedom to establish ‘work benches’ (or ‘work places’
or ‘work spots’) in the neighbourhood or regional rural
crafts, agricultural or forest-based production systems
and industries and services, thereby utilising the available
human and material resources optimally. This
collaborative arrangement has three advantages. First,
the VET programme can be set up with minimum
capital investment. Second, the students would have
access to the latest techniques and technology that
become available in the area. Third, the students would
get on-the-job experience and exposure to real-life
problems of designing, production and marketing. For
this purpose, it should be made obligatory for all kinds
of facilities engaged in production and services such
as agriculture, forestry, private and public sector
industries (including cottage and small-scale
manufacturers) to collaborate with the schools in the
area by providing the required ‘work benches’ (or
‘work places’ or ‘work spots’), in the addition to
offering training and monitoring support.
The success of the VET programme is also
critically dependent upon building up a credible system
of evaluation, equivalence, institutional accreditation
(extending to ‘work benches’ and individual expertise)
and apprenticeship. Care has to be taken to ensure that
such standardisation does not become a negative tool
for rejecting/ disqualifying the diverse knowledge and
skills that characterise the different regions of India,
especially the economically underdeveloped regions like
the North-east, hilly tracts, the coastal belt and the central
Indian tribal region. An appropriate structural space
and a welcoming environment will have to be created
in the VET centres and institutions for engaging
farmers, animal husbandry, fishery and horticulture
specialists, artisans, mechanics, technicians, artists, and
other local service providers (inc luding IT) as resource
persons or guest faculty.
The eligibility for VET courses could be relaxed
to include a Class V certificate until the year 2010, when
the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is expected to achieve UEE,
but subsequently it must be raised to Class VIII
certificate and eventually to Class X certificate when
the target year of universal secondary education is
reached. In no case, however, would children below
the age of 16 years be eligible for admission to a VET
programme. VET centres could also act as skill and
hobby centres for all children from the primary stage
onwards, and could be accessed before or after school
hours. Such centres should also be available for schools
to negotiate a collaborative arrangement for the
work-centred curriculum even during school hours.
In order to translate this vision of VET into
practice, several new support structures and resource
institutions will have to be created at various levels,
including districts, states/ UTs and the centre, besides
strengthening and reviving the existing national resource