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Enhancing Skill-Based Education in India

Context:

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 in India is celebrated for its focus on practical learning and skill-based education. Nevertheless, a significant disparity between the education imparted and the demands of industries persists, even with a substantial number of science graduates.

Relevance:

GS II: Education

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Higher Education Landscape in India for STEM Graduates
  2. Challenges in State-affiliated Higher Education Institutions for STEM
  3. Transforming State Universities into Skill-Based Education Hubs

Higher Education Landscape in India for STEM Graduates

University Structure:

  • India has a total of 1,113 universities, with 422 being public institutions under State governments.
  • State-affiliated colleges associated with these universities cater to a significant portion of student enrolments.

Role of Universities:

  • Public universities play a pivotal role in preparing graduates for careers in science and technology.

BSc Enrolments:

  • STEM graduates, comprising Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields, exhibit substantial enrolment.
  • Around 50 lakh students are enrolled in BSc courses.
  • Over 11 lakh students complete their bachelor’s degrees annually (All-India Survey of Higher Education Report 2021-2022).

Advanced Education Drop-off:

  • The number of STEM graduates significantly reduces at higher education levels.
  • Approximately 2.9 lakh students pursue master’s degrees (25% of BSc graduates).
  • Doctoral level witnesses further decline, with only 6,000 science PhDs awarded each year.

Importance of Advanced Degrees:

  • A master’s degree or PhD is a prerequisite for entry-level positions in scientific research and teaching.
  • Positions at universities and national institutes typically require advanced qualifications.

Immediate Workforce Entry:

  • Around 8 lakh bachelors-equivalent science graduates annually enter the workforce.
  • These graduates represent a substantial human resource pool for immediate or near-future employment.

Primary Education Source:

  • Most bachelors-level science graduates obtain their degrees from State-affiliated colleges and universities.

Challenges in State-affiliated Higher Education Institutions for STEM:

Outdated Curricula:

  • Many State-affiliated institutions offer outdated curricula that do not align with modern technologies and advancements.
  • Students face difficulties in acquiring relevant and current knowledge and skills.

Lack of Practical Training:

  • Science courses often lack practical training opportunities.
  • Inadequate or poorly maintained laboratory facilities limit hands-on experience and practical skill development.

Resource Constraints:

  • State-affiliated institutions face resource limitations compared to Institutes of Eminence and private universities.
  • Lack of research-intensive environment hampers research opportunities for students and faculty.

Defining Role and Identity:

  • These institutions struggle to define their unique role in higher science education.
  • Balancing teaching responsibilities with research and upskilling needs presents a challenge.

Skills Mismatch:

  • Despite a large number of science graduates, industries report a gap in required skills.
  • State-affiliated institutions may not be adequately equipping graduates with job-relevant skills.

Transforming State Universities into Skill-Based Education Hubs:

Curriculum Revamp:

  • Update BSc and integrated course curricula to emphasize industry-relevant skills such as programming, data analysis, instrumentation, quality assurance, and benchmarking.
  • Integrate skill-focused certifications within the curriculum to enhance employability.

Industry Collaborations:

  • Establish long-term partnerships with industries through seminars, expert interactions, apprenticeships, and job fairs.
  • Secure funding support from industries to enhance practical training and research projects.

Job Application Skills:

  • Include job application skills training to prepare students for the job search process.
  • Teach interview techniques, resume writing, and negotiation skills to ensure graduates are job-ready.

International Models:

  • Learn from successful models in the U.S. and Europe, such as community colleges and technical universities.
  • Prioritize regional education and workforce readiness to align education with industry needs.

Alignment with National Policy:

  • Align efforts with the National Education Policy and the proposed National Research Foundation.
  • Address the need for skilled scientific personnel and enhance graduate employability.

-Source: The Hindu


February 2024
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