Vocationalization of Education Obscures its Real Agenda

Vocationalization of Education Obscures its Real Agenda

Sheikh Maqbool

The implementation of merely a skill or job -oriented course will produce a generation of youngsters who will be deprived of employment, knowledge and world outlook. It is not a matter of dispute that language, history, social sciences and other basic subjects have played a decisive role in developing ethical essence to build harmonious character. Vocationalization of education will not help the students and youths in any way to get jobs, rather it will rob them of moral and ethical essence. Students will be reduced to human robots- serving the system blindly. It is a conspiracy to dehumanize the students and youth who will have no emotion for society. It is also in the nature of an evil design to crush the generation of people who question the exploitative system.
Naturally, when education has come to mean merely an instrument to spin money, and anyhow at that, the investors push up the costs as high as they can in the prevailing market set-up to reap more harvest of profits. And, students learn that their quest is not study to learn but is to make then equipped to make money. If this is not commercialization, what else could it be?
Formal education leads to economic empowerment, equipping them to earn their living . At the same time, the rationale of education is to raise the quality of life. Obviously, the goal of education, when it is coloured in commercial tone, may run together with or be in conflict with the goal of a quality life, depending on what quality one is talking of. If quality means high values, then the former goal is sure to come into conflict with the latter. Thus, the kind of education turned out in the prevailing set-up, more so under the reformed version, is either empty of its essence which people have long been cherishing or is a truncated version. It is largely the poor, who either cannot afford academic education or who pass out of poorly-equipped and uninspiring schools with low marks who are being pushed out of the ambit of general academic education and made to remain content with underdeveloped vocational education. The protagonists of reforms now condescend to admit that poor category of students have to be shown the door and that their only solace will now be to remain content with a ‘underdeveloped’ vocational education. This is a classic instance of the outcome of commercialisation.
Admittedly, vocational education is a part of education. But, it has to be a stream of continuing education on a foundation of general academic education, not a substitute for or an alternative to general academic education. Only the diggers of the mire of privatization and commercialization could talk loud of this stinking approach to make vocational education the mainstay for poor students. In fact, commercialization itself blurs the distinction between academic and vocational education, as education is made a means for ‘vocation’.
Any tall talk on its value-based(ness) or quality then becomes superfluous as rampant commercialization wipes off all values from the education scene to the dismay and anguish of people. Sensing the people’s reaction, the votaries of reforms cry hoarse over the need for value-based education, and, on that pretext, tuck in all sorts of retrograde, obscurantist ideas. It brings us back to where we started from. This spree of all-out privatization, commercialization makes it difficult for students of poor families to avail of education of any worth, effecting this way curtailment of education for them – and this is precisely the basic design underlying these so-called reforms.
People’s grievance and wrath against the devastating measures, brought in on the pretext of reforms in education, is natural and will grow with time. However, it is apparent that government, rather those in power who mattered were not willing to listen to people’s criticism “epoch-making” measure, that is with its tag of national policy but actually undertaken without any meaningful consultation with the academic community and proving to be a boon for investors and corporate houses, has been foist on the people. On the contrary, to douse the fires of dissent, the rulers invent newer and newer phrases and hide the real thrust of their measures.

—The writer is chief spokesperson of the RTI foundation and can be reached at:sheikhmaqbool2012@gmail.com