Thursday, November 06, 2014

India to introduce credit transfer system for students on 11 November

After four years of debate, India will start a credit transfer system next week that will make it easier for students and working professionals to switch between education and jobs. On 11 November, observed as the National Education Day in India, the government will launch the credit equivalent framework from Class 9-12 level and will extend this till the PhD level in January, human resource development (HRD) minister Smriti Zubin Irani said on Wednesday.

“We do not have a credit transfer system within our country that enables the migration of labour across the country,” she told delegates at a panel discussion at the India Economic Summit, organized by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The move will help individuals who leave formal education for a job to resume studies. The credit transfer system would facilitate people “get back to the education system as and when they desire”, said Irani reflecting on her own experience where she had to drop out to continue working.

She said her ministry has also advised universities that run directly under the union government to adopt the credit transfer system; a similar effort was earlier made by former HRD minister Kapil Sibal, but it remained a non-starter.

Irani, who was on a panel at the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit, also focused on skills, one of the themes of this year’s conference, and an area of concern for both policymakers and industry.

Shobhana Bhartia, chairperson and editorial director of HT Media Ltd, also part of the same panel, said there is a talent conundrum in India. “Though we talk about the huge demographic dividend that India enjoys, there are people without jobs and jobs without people.” Mint is published by HT Media Ltd.

Irani said her ministry would like to improve the “employability” of university graduates who are often branded as unemployable by industries. She announced that the government is asking universities to set up placement cells so as to encourage a dialogue between job seekers and job providers on the required skills sets.

India has nearly 35,800 colleges, over 600 universities and more than 11,000 stand-alone professional institutions such as engineering and management schools. Together, they prepare 29.6 million students for the workforce. Only, much of this preparation remains on paper; companies say the challenge is to get job-ready students.

Irani said she is open to work with the labour ministry, which trains students for shopfloor jobs at its Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs). This is key to reviving manufacturing in India, one of the aims of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government that has launched a Make in India campaign.

The key to employability is to ensure good teachers, good curriculum and good software in schools, said Uday Kotak, executive vice-chairman and managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd, also part of the panel. “The focus should be on getting software into schools rather than disproportionately pushing hardware,” Kotak said, emphasizing that the focus needs to be on intellectual capital and not on physical infrastructure.

Irani said that her government is working on a national education policy that it will unveil next year. Her ministry is working with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) to provide free online courses. Only, instead of these being only delivered online, these will be provided on a hybrid model — both online and offline, she explained.

Education and employability can‘t be seen as separate issues, said Rituparna Chakraborty, senior vice-president of staffing company TeamLease Services Pvt. Ltd and president of Indian Staffing Federation, an industry body. “The linear model of education that focus on only churning out degree holders need to change. Instead, businesses may insist on vocational education certified candidates and pay them due premium. Allowing students and professionals to seamlessly move across verticals—education and job market would do good both to the industries and academic institutions,” said Chakraborty. The credit transfer system, if implemented, will do just that.

Source: Mint, November 6, 2014

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