Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Maharashtra to set up country's first vocational university

The Maharashtra government is considering a move to set up the first of its kind vocational university in the country, said minister for higher and technical education Rajesh Tope on Tuesday. Through such university, the government will promote establishment of colleges, which will offer degrees in a range of vocational trades, he said. "The move will ensure an apt social status for students passing out with degrees in vocational studies besides facilitating vertical mobility for those passing Standards XI and XII with vocational subjects", said Tope. "As of now, such students have no option but to join conventional arts, science or commerce streams after Standard XII," he said.

"The department of higher and technical education was no more keen on granting new colleges in conventional arts, science and commerce streams looking at the issue of burgeoning educated unemployment. We haven't granted a single such college this year and we plan to pursue this approach in future too," said Tope.

"The thrust, instead, has to be on promoting vocational skills that not only add value to the academic knowledge acquired by students but also raise the prospect of their employability in the industry and other professional fields", he said. The prevailing content for certificate and diploma courses in vocational streams can be upgraded and brought to the level required for colleges, to set up vocational colleges at strategic locations especially in rural areas, he said.

"We require need-based education, which can meet the socio-economic requirements of specific areas. If we can give such education in rural areas, then it will go a long way in arresting the rural-to-urban migration besides contributing to the growth of rural economy," Tope said. "The community colleges, which emphasise on developing job-oriented skills among those students, who have been left out of the academic mainstream for some reason or the other, have an important role to play. However, barring a few institutions, there haven't been many takers for community colleges", he said.

A key reason behind such reluctance on the part of the institutions is, the economic viability of community colleges under the present scheme. "We need to accord a vocational training provider (VTP) status to the community colleges that are to be set up in future. This will ensure course-wise funds from the Union government as well as reimbursement of course fee for students. The institutions will have little burden to take", said Tope. He promised all possible support and help in grant of VTP status to institutions desiring to set up community colleges.

Source: The Times of India, August 25, 2010

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