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Technical flaws

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has announced a massive reduction of seats (of upto 27,000 seats) in technical institutes across the country.

india Updated: May 08, 2006 00:24 IST

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has announced a massive reduction of seats (of upto 27,000 seats) in technical institutes across the country. It inspected over 3,000 institutes and found over 400 of them to be functioning in substandard capacity. Juxtapose this with the Prime Minister’s wish on Friday to upgrade 500 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and his sanction to set up more technical institutes if required. So while the PM wants to improve and expand the scope of creating a skilled force, the AICTE — in a bid to ostensibly ‘improve’ — slashes intake in the very institutes that the PM perceives to be training grounds.

This startling gap between vision and reality is reflective of India’s biggest problem — the mismatch between intent and action. Manmohan Singh is known for his sincere efforts to create opportunities so as to transform a ‘trainable’ workforce into an ‘employable’ one. More seats, better facilities, improved infrastructure and efficient faculties are the need of the day. But the AICTE seems to find that mere submission of compliance reports, threats and a slashing of seats may help meet the PM’s goal. If the council is serious about ensuring benchmark standards across its technical institutes, it must realise that this is a continuous process. It requires ongoing training of teachers, upgradation of courses and a constant updating of the mix and depth of training, keeping in mind market needs. Annual ‘inspection’ rounds are futile exercises. Reams have been expounded about the many ‘jobless courses’ that some ITIs continue to offer. Surprisingly, at the other end, ITIs with foreign tie-ups produce graduates of calibre who find decent employment.

In his inauguration speech at the Goa campus of BITS, Mr Singh also hailed the role played by private enterprise in ensuring world-class higher education and technical training. Public-private partnerships form a main pillar for the foundations of education/training that he wants to create. As part of this drive, the first step could be a basic training module for the heads of the state’s ITIs by the corporate sector to understand, simply, how to run an educational institute, be competitive, have robust curricula and create a worthy workforce.