If your child is going to the sixth grade in 2021, there are chances that he or she will be exposed to a new system of vocational education in school.
Sources said that under the National Education Policy (NEP) implementation, vocational topics like carpentry, pottery, weaving and indigenous textiles have been identified as skills to be imparted to school students.
Under NEP 2020, vocational education for students has been made mandatory from the sixth standard. This is to ensure that students have exposure to industry skills and indigenous crafts, w2hich are necessary to become employable.
As part of the plan, sixth graders and above would be able to interact with skilled professionals in the four areas of specialisation, in a two-way process. Students would be able to visit these workshops and have these professionals come to school to impart skills and the necessary training.
“The focus will also be on indigenous crafts. For instance, schools in the vicinity of Yeola town in Maharashtra’s Nashik district, could have site visits to Paithani textile-manufacturing facilities while students in Sambalpur district in Odisha could go to Sambalpuri saree making units,” said an official.
Sources also added that in the initial years, 2021-22, government schools and Kendriya Vidyalayas will take the lead in implementing vocational education.
The fields have been selected based on their market prospects, availability of trainers, safety, and proximity to production units.
For example, metal-related indigenous businesses like gold polishing, jewellery making or light-producing (LED, party lights) could expose students to dangerous fumes and hence were not under consideration.
What will be covered?
Under vocational education, students will get the opportunity to meet local artisans in areas like carpentry, pottery, weaving and indigenous textile manufacturing. The focus will be on the skills needed for these professions, time taken for production and the business opportunities they may offer.
Said another official: “Local artisans will also be able to share how they became a successful entrepreneur in their chosen field. Information related to digital sales, marketing and branding strategies will also be given. This will not just help the students in becoming entrepreneurs, it could also assist in dissemination of this knowledge to relatives and neighbours of these students, who are also part of similar professions.”
When it comes to lessons, the history of the product, raw materials needed, sourcing of components, pricing, changes in the manufacturing processes, and the effort that goes into making these products, would be taught. Students will also be given a glimpse of professional courses that can be taken to become skilled in these areas.
There will be volunteers accompanying students during site visits to ensure that safety is maintained. For instance, there is a need to guard against carpenters using sharp tools, which could be dangerous for children.
How will the classes be structured?
In a school week, about one to two days will have designated hours for vocational education where students will be conducted to industry visits and in turn, will have their institutions hosting the artisans as guest teachers. Over and above school timings, there would also be field visits for students from metro cities and urban locations to these manufacturing units about once or twice a month.
Pointed out Akhila Parameswaran, the principal of a Tirunelveli-based school: “The idea is that skills can only be learnt by observing professionals in action. Students will also get a chance to take part in workshops, where they can recreate some of the basic crafts that they may have acquired during these field visits.”
There have been extensive discussions between schools and the education ministry on the implementation process of the vocational education stream, she added.
Ministry sources said that the thought behind this plan is to also promote local crafts and remove biases related to traditional professions.
"Rather than every individual striving to become an engineer, doctor or MBA, there is a need to promote local skills and crafts. Dignity of labour is another crucial aspect, which students will be taught as part of vocational education," explained another school education department official.