Fund-starved govt banks on distance education to upgrade technical skills of students
Facing fund crunch, the state government is now banking on the distance education via the internet to upgrade technical education for the students enrolled in the state-run institutes.
“As part of the new initiative, lectures by experts are arranged via the internet facility for students to help them keep abreast of latest technological innovations, so they can land plum jobs in highly competitive sectors outside the state and abroad,” said Om Prakash, the additional chief secretary.
He cited shortage of funds as the reason prompting the government to go for the distance education mode to ensure that the technical education is continuously attuned to the fast changing technical innovations. “Obsolescence is a major problem in the field of technology where technological innovations happen very fast,” said the top official.
To ensure that technical education in the state stays relevant to industry and market requirements, it requires continuous updation, which is a very costly affair, Prakash said. “We don’t have enough funds to equip our technical institutes to keep them attuned to the technical advancements happening in all technological fields, be it industry, information technology, engineering or mechanical engineering etc,” he said.
Prakash admitted that the shortage of funds prompted the state government to go for the internet based distance education system. “Under that system, lectures of the best of technical brains are arranged for students enrolled in various technical institutes,” he said. “It is the only way out because we can’t afford to keep the technical institutes equipped with the sophisticated infrastructure, so they stay relevant as per the market requirements,” he added.
The additional chief secretary said that proliferation of technical institutes is one of the key reasons for the state government not being in a position to equip them with highly expensive state-of-the-art infrastructure. There are as many as 70 polytechnics and 170 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) across the state. “Out of 70 polytechnics, the distance education programme has been initiated in a dozen such technical institutes,” he said.
According to him, equipping those technical institutes with state-of-the-art infrastructure to ensure skill upgrading of students will cost the state government a whopping Rs 1, 830 crore. “Besides, they (technical institutes) are far too many compared to the population ratio,” he said, adding that the state has one polytechnic for 1.40 lakh people. “A state like Maharashtra, on the other hand, has just one polytechnic for 34 lakh people,” he said. “Similarly, Bihar, which is far bigger a state than Uttarakhand has, in all, just 11 polytechnics,” he added.
“Conversely, we don’t have enough industrial units to accommodate a large number of students who pass out from those dozens of polytechnics and ITIs dotting the hill state,” he said. “The only option left for such students is to look for jobs either outside the state or abroad, for which they need to be highly competent in their respective areas,” he added.
According to the official, the state does have the Institute of Research Development and Training (IRDT) mandated to improve the skills of students enrolled in different state-run technical institutes. “This institute too is still in its infancy,” he said. “So, the only affordable way for us is to hire the best of experts and arrange their lectures for students via the internet, so they could update their knowledge of the latest technical advancements.”
Prakash clarified that the state government has no tie-up with any industry or establishment in India or abroad to ensure students’ placements. “There is no such tie-up with anybody,” he said. “Students who pass out from the technical institutes will automatically land jobs owing to their skills and updated knowledge,” he added.
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