The job profile of a lecturer in any professional college comprises of imparting training in a specialized field of expertise. As such the prospective students admitted to any professional college, be it at the skill level or the degree level; need to be well-versed in the concepts learned on completion of schooling. More so, a student who intends to study engineering or diploma in a professional college must have acquired respectable, if not excellent academic merit, particularly in the streams of science, mathematics and English. However in the case of skill development institutes, mainly at the diploma level the target group of trainees more or less, as has been observed down the line of last few years, consists of those students only who are of average merit or below the average category of candidates where the merit generally hovers over the range between 35 to 65 per cent in the tenth or twelfth standard.
Zeroing in on the academics of these students who are admitted to the three-year diploma colleges, it is observed that during the course of their schooling, the learning process has not proven effective to the point of retention of the fundamentals, upon which the college pedagogues can start building the foundation of skill training and start shaping up the technical minds. Thus, the aghast trainers in colleges come to the sad realization that the merit of this group within the bracket of 35 to 65 per cent falls short so as to help them grasp the concepts like calculus, design, drawing, optics, mechanics, logic or any such mind challenging topic which forms the basis of any engineering or technology-driven curriculum to be pursued at the diploma or degree level.
Further, it comes down to the task of fixing the responsibility and finding the problem area where the teachers can do amends if they can. A teacher, a pupil, the process of learning and training forms the learning-training chain. This chain is akin to a water cycle or a food chain; one weak link will make a whole chain weak. There are stages, phases and benchmarks involved along this learning-training chain, which are to be completed in the overall development of a perfect and trained human resource in order to transform a raw human product, born and given to instinct, into a refined and thoughtful human being, honed and perfected once chiseled with rigorous learning and skilling techniques.
We have to take these stages, phases and benchmarks into account one at a time. So to begin with, it is a language that every student should learn in his early schooling period. He/she should know one language at the least up to the intermediate level so that he can express himself. The stronger the language, the stronger the personality in making, which will help the student pick the concepts of science and geography easily, for instance. Here comes the role of primary school language teachers. If a student succeeds in getting admission to a professional school or a business school but is not able to write a paragraph on any topic of his interest, then the problem lies somewhere in the learning-training chain, which needs to be identified quite early and rectified at that stage before it gets carried forward beyond schooling stage. BODMAS rules are to be learned and the first program in C or Python is to be run in the middle school. If a student is passing the matriculation class and is not able to decipher the distinction between a planet, and a satellite, the problem obviously in that situation is with the education system and the evaluation process thereof. These common shortcomings found in the student community at large need to be addressed during the middle and secondary levels prior to letting these issues percolate to the graduation level.
The extra-attention is required when the student is in the bracket of 10 years of age to 15 years of age where we the teachers have to be extra cautious to check if the student has covered all the benchmarks required of him in the fields of science, general knowledge, computers, mathematics, and at least one language. This is the time that acts as a launchpad for the individual wherefrom his career will take off. The middle school student needs to be exposed to the world he has to compete in, which lies waiting for him to take on. A professor from a university or a professional college should come to pay a visit to the middle school and deliver a guest lecture in order to inspire these adolescent minds and spread awareness about various careers available to choose from and what is expected of them in each stream post schooling era. Besides, the schools should also arrange visits of their students especially those in their early teens to show them around the professional colleges and university environment. The sooner this activity kick starts in our education system, the better it is. The gap between secondary education and professional education needs to be shortened by taking the initiatives where the two are seen in a mode of participation and collaboration. Exposure to skill development should be made an integral part of the secondary school curriculum so that the proclivity towards the skilling of manpower starts early.
Knowledge combined with skills turns into a force field that runs the economic engine of a nation. Better standards of skills empower an individual to adjust more effectively to the challenges and opportunities in domestic and international job markets. India is one of the youngest nations in the world with more than 50 percent of its population below 25 years of age. India, therefore, has the potential of becoming the world’s skill capital with the opportunity to produce competent skilled labour and export the same to the outside world where the demand for skilled manpower is ever-growing keeping in mind that the average age of the population in the industrialized and developed world is much older compared to India, which places the nation in a better position to reap this demographic dividend.
Alie Sohel is a Lecturer, CSE Department of Skill Development, J&K. Feedback at [email protected]