It is a bygone conclusion that for good job prospects and a bright future, the basic requirement is good education. In a country like ours, where despite good education, the unemployment rate is quite high, there’s need for specialised education and trade-based curriculum.
The last decade has seen a spurt of entrepreneurship and start-ups mushrooming all around the country. This has come about due to a series of educational initiatives by the Government in ‘Skilling India’ through a vast network of polytechnics and rural community colleges where technical education is imparted.
Besides such specialised skills and trade-related education, the industry-educational institution collaboration has provided the students with practical and theoretical knowledge, which helps the person to start work or set up a business of his own without delay.
The fact that many highly educated individuals are returning to their roots in farming, for example, and in setting up individual enterprises in various fields shows that self-employment is one of the major options to beat the unemployment scenario.
The Don Bosco range of educational institutions across the country has been doing yeoman service to different segments of society. In Chennai, under the aegis of Salesian Institute of Graphic Arts, the SIGA Polytechnic College was set up to sensitise the socio-economic needs of marginalised youth in the 18-35 age group. This was part of the 300+ skill training centres across India. SIGA Polytechnic College is an unaided Christian minority Institution affiliated to the Tamil Nadu State Board of Technical Education and is approved by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), New Delhi.
“In the year 2016, out of a total of 47 students, 45 were successfully placed in jobs. The remaining two went ahead to pursue higher studies. In 2017, out of a total number of 67 students, 66 were successfully placed in jobs and one went on to do higher studies. Last year, out of 66 students, 65 were successfully placed in good jobs,” says Fr. P. T. Joseph, Principal, SIGA Polytechnic College. This is an encouraging scenario and the increase in blue collar workforce will not only improve the economic situation but also provide employment to many below the poverty line. “Government funding is not sufficient for private sector institutions. Hence, the management has to keep raising fees to take care of infrastructural and other costs like salaries. This has an adverse effect on the admissions. On the other hand, public sector schools are not equipped enough with teachers and facilities, thereby affecting the overall output of the students,” adds Fr. Joseph.
Similarly, Swamy Vivekananda Rural Community College (SVRCC) founded and managed by Sadguru Sri Gnananda Seva Trust, in 2008 and located in a rural area along the Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry border serves the community within a 40 km radius. Catering to a different segment of society of underprivileged families, the institute’s student profile comprises of class 8 and 10 dropouts, orphaned and street kids, those from juvenile homes, children of families of fishermen, street vendors, auto rickshaw drivers and daily wage earners, children from broken homes, destitutes and offspring of convicts.
“We provide quality education aimed at skill development resulting in gainful employment, self-employment and even overseas employment,” says G. V. Subramanian, Founder, SVRCC. The quality skill training conducted in a holistic ambience redefines education to include life skills and not just a means to earn a livelihood.
“In 2017-18, 2104 students were enrolled in 10 batches. Of this, 80% students were placed in jobs. 13-15% students took up higher education while looking for jobs at the same time. Fifty-five students became self-employed, 25 were employed overseas and 4 became university rank holders. The average incomes of students who have taken up jobs are in the region of Rs. 6000 to Rs. 7000 per month whereas those who are self-employed earn about Rs. 20000 to Rs. 30000 per month. Some of the students who are employed overseas have been earning USD 600 per month,” says Sriram Subramanian, Manager- Planning and Development, SVRCC.
Harihara Subramanian who heads the Indian Institute of Governance (IIG) spoke to us about the current scenario in education.
What are the problems in our education system?
It still remains old school and exam-centered. It requires a total overhaul. There is so much to adopt from our own experimentations in India, both past and present, and also from the world over. Our children are very good. We need to work out the process and environment in consultation with these children who are the consumers. For this we need to attract the best men and women who are passionate to work with children.
What are the problems in the private/public sector education system?
The main problem as I mentioned is that it is still exam-oriented. It has to become an enjoyable process without any constraints and boundaries, where the management and teachers need to partner with the students to constantly evolve the learning modules and ecosystems. To manufacture a flawless product, an industry does so much, but when it comes to children why do we let it go? They are the true assets of a nation; everyone is unique. This needs to be preserved and polished rather than making all into the same mould.
Do public sectors provide standard education to students?
Public sectors provide this. There are great schools around who have learnt a lot over few decades, and they are doing a good job in terms of facilities, freedom etc. There should be a platform in which a lot of exchange can take place further, enhancing excellence. The proof is in this - the child should come to school happy every day and leave reluctantly.
Why do poor- and middle-class parents want to put their children in private schools?
Parents do not want their children to suffer the way they have. They want them to be well placed in life and are willing to go to any length. That’s where the state should step in. But a state like Tamil Nadu does not allow the Navodhaya Schools to come to every district, which is the initiative of the Central Government. Schools should foster creativity ― an important element in the happiness and success of the next generation.