Major shift

The government is all set to embark on an ambitious path by introducing vocational education at the secondary and higher secondary level. The education department sees it as a reliable means of catering to the job market by including practical subjects in the syllabus. The cabinet approved a 21-point agenda on Wednesday paving the path for incorporation of such subjects like masonry, tonsorial skills, clerical work etc. so that students get self-employed after passing out of the schools, should the need arise. The new changes will also include those areas not covered by the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training. The new idea marks a major shift in the trend of vocational education. A similar plan was mooted as far back as 2028 BS when subjects like agriculture and clerical education were introduced although the results were not very satisfactory.

Owing to the socio-economic pressures, many students cannot pursue higher studies after passing either the secondary level or the higher secondary level. This is particularly true among students hailing from rural areas whose means of nurturing their educational ambitions are often met through either self-employment or part-time jobs. So much so that many of them are forced to discontinue studies due to lack of funds. The government seems to be aiming to address the concerns of these students, who need a job but lack the necessary skills to get one. To enable students to be self-reliant is after all a good initiative. But the option for students to choose between, say, hair-dressing and core academics must be driven by long-term benefits of specialising in any particular subject of one’s interest rather than the lure of instant benefit a subject temporarily offers. For example, students who show great promise in academics should not be permanently engaged in masonry.

A balanced curriculum whereby vocational education serves as a stepping stone for students with higher educational ambitions, besides providing long-term employment to those who fit into that breadth of skills, offers a pragmatic solution. But several governments have tried with different education models in the past without much success. The one that was introduced in 2028 BS bore little fruit. The case thereafter has not been any different either, although successive governments tried to streamline the system under a more unified education pattern. Yet inconsistencies remain on both the contentious issues of syllabus and fee-slab at various levels. Besides addressing the need to produce employment-oriented manpower, other areas must also be regularised. A uniform school education serves a beneficial purpose, not the interpolation of a haphazard structure.