At a time when the State Government is trying to create more skilled manpower, the vocational educational programme of the Department of Higher Education (DHE) is not finding many takers. Even for the little number of students who are enrolling in the Government Vocational Junior Colleges (GVJCs), there aren’t enough books, resource persons and the mandatory practical training facilities.
The Central-sponsored vocational education programme was launched in the State in 1988. It aims at imparting education at the Plus II level designed to create a middle- level skilled personnel who can become self employed by starting their own enterprises. These vocational programmes are taught at host colleges, which are either government, non-government, or government-aided colleges.
While the programme is running successfully in several states like West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, it has remained “dormant” in Odisha allegedly because of the State Government’s indifference. Besides, when elsewhere in the country, vocational education is provided in over 200 trades, the GVJCs in Odisha have just 20 trades. Worse, while other states are adding more advanced trades to their course curriculum every year, Odisha has seen no new addition to the existing 20 trades since the programme began.
At present, Odisha has 231 GVJCs that function under the DHE’s Directorate of Vocational Education under three circles of Bhubaneswar, Berhampur and Sambalpur. While there are 141 GVJCs under Bhubaneswar circle, the number is 37 and 53 for Berhampur and Sambalpur respectively.
Official sources said 5,167 students had taken admission to 124 GVJCs in Bhubaneswar circle, 1,048 students in 27 GVJCs in Berhampur and 1,638 students took admission in 36 colleges in Sambalpur circle for the 2011-12 academic session. Admissions for the current session are yet to be completed. For these colleges, there are 224 full time and 66 part-time teachers. Each college is allotted a minimum of two trades.
“Vocational education here is in doldrums. Twenty-four years since its inception, we are yet to have separate infrastructure. Everything is at the mercy of the host colleges who refuse to understand the requirements of this course and handle it respectfully,” said Pratap Sarangi, a member of All Odisha Plus Two Vocational Teachers Association. In fact, teachers of these colleges have since long been demanding infrastructure development such as classrooms and laboratories.
Admitting to the problems, Vocational Education Director Nivedita Jena said the department is in the process of initiating changes in the vocational education programme, including curriculum and infrastructure. “While all other states have a vocational council to look into these colleges, our State doesn’t have one,” she lamented, adding that the agenda for the time being is motivating more number of students to take up vocational courses.
Earlier this month, the State Government had asked the Director to constitute a task force to look into the problems faced by GVJCs.