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Volume V Issue 3 March 2009    ISSN 0973-4139 

Rs 75

e-Skills Meet Up-Skilling & Re-Skilling PAGE 6

Placing India on Global Skill Map Interview: Sharda Prasad, DGE&T PAGE 12

SK LLS connect From Policy to Practice

Pulling the Strings of Vocational Education Dr Vinay Swarup Mehrotra, PSSCIVE PAGE 26

Repair or Prepare the Skill Pyramid Interview: Manish Sabharwal, Chairman, TeamLease PAGE 31

Upscaling Open Vocational Education page 44

Volume V Issue III, March 2009


Cover Story

6 e-Skills meet Up-Skilling & Re-Skilling POlicy matters


Higher education Frontrunner In Quality Technical Education Interview: Prof. L K Maheshwari, VC BITS, Pilani

School Track

12 Placing India on Global Skill Map


Inculcating Knowledge and Skills Among Children

Development agenda


Upscaling Open Vocational Education

Interview: Sharda Prasad DGE&T

15 Bridging the Technology and Gender Divide Courtesy: ILO, New Delhi



Pulling the Strings of Vocational Education Dr. Vinay Swarup Mehrotra

Corporate diary

31 34

Leader’s Speak: Repair or Prepare the Skill Pyramid! Interview: Manish Sabharwal, TeamLease Services Pvt. Ltd.

Leader’s Speak: Converging Efforts Towards Employablity Interview: Madan Padaki, MeriTrac

Interview: S S Minhas, Principal, Guru Harkrishan Public School, Vasant Vihar


Regular Features


Mark Your Calander


India's Largest ICT Event


17 20 22 37

India Asia World Corporate

All the articles are available online at

Editorial digital LEARNING INDIA Volume V, Issue 3 | March 2009

President M P Narayanan Editor-in-Chief Ravi Gupta Group Directors Maneesh Prasad, Sanjay Kumar Programme Co-ordinator Jayalakshmi Chittoor Assistant Editor Manjushree Reddy email: Research Associates Rachita Jha, Dr Rajeshree Dutta Kumar Research Assistants Angela S Nath, Yukti Pahwa Marketing Siddharth Verma (+91-9811561645) email: Sales Executives Rudra Ghosh (+91-9810603696) email: Vasundhra Singh (+91-9990412305) email: Subscription & Circulation Lipika Dutta (+91-9871481708) Manoj Kumar (+91-9971404484) Sr Graphic Designer Bishwajeet Kumar Singh Graphic Designers Om Prakash Thakur, Chandrakesh Bihari Lal (James) Web Zia Salahuddin, Amit Pal Editorial & Marketing Correspondence digitalLearning G-4 Sector 39, NOIDA 201301, India Phone: +91 120 2502181-85 Fax: +91 120 2500060 Email:

Addressing the great skill divide While India continues to march ahead on the path of economic growth, despite a global slowdown, time has come to take note of the gap between the demand for skilled human resource and the existing supply.  If not addressed at a war footing, experts and industry representatives say, this could push our growth into a spot of bother. According to the 2005 NSSO survey, the gap stands at 10 million. So much so that the issue was highlighted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his Independence Day speech two years back.  ‘As our economy booms, and as our industry grows, I hear the pressing complaint about an imminent shortage of skilled employees. As a country endowed with huge human resources, we can’t let this be a constraint. We are planning to launch a Mission on Vocational Education so that the skill deficit in our economy is addressed,’ Dr Singh had announced. With Vocational Education and Training (VET) becoming the buzzword in the power corridors, the spotlight is on the need for a tangible action plan which can provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to the masses. The National Policy on Skill Development, recently approved by the Union Cabinet, aims to create a workforce empowered with improved skills, knowledge and internationally recognised qualifications to gain access to decent employment and ensure India’s competitiveness in the global labour market. Although a step in the right direction, more such concerted efforts is required on the part of government, private sector and all concerned agencies if we are to surge ahead on the growth path. The poor cannot afford to remain unemployed anymore. We have to re-orient the labour structure and initiate a shift from low to high productivity, while also improving the wage structure and quality of life. Finally, the policy initiatives must not just restrict their focus to city and semi-urban areas while looking at skill development programmes. The rural areas and smaller towns have millions waiting to join the search for skilled jobs. India needs to impart relevant skills to 10 million people every year if it has to reap the benefit of globalisation.

digitalLEARNING is published by Elets Technomedia Pvt. Ltd. in technical collaboration with Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies.

Ravi Gupta Editor-in-Chief

Owner, Publisher, Printer, Ravi Gupta Printed at Vinayak Print Media D-320, Sector 10, Noida, U.P. and published from 710, Vasto Mahagun Manor, F-30, Sector - 50, Noida, UP Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 11 November 2008 Editor: Ravi Gupta

Cover Story


Why is the need for e-Skills growing? How is the supply of such skills generated, and is it meeting current and foreseeable needs? What are some of the main priorities which governments and business should address to solve the upcoming ‘e-Skills crunch’ ? Digital Learning catched up some trends and talks... 

March 2009 |

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new shortage of skills and talent in IT and business is threatening business growth, according to Gartner, Inc, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. This skills shortfall is very different from the shortage experienced during the dot-com squeeze of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Then there were shortages of specific, technical skills and domain-specific expertise. Today, by contrast, there are shortages of people with more general qualifications, experience and business insight. Several forces are coming together to create a competition for talent. 

well-functioning labour markets and adequate employability and inclusion levels.

the world population in the creation of, and benefits from a truly inclusive information society. Worried about a growing mismatch between the skills of young population and the nature of jobs they would be required to fill, the Union government in India has proposed spending a hefty INR31,000 crore on skills development over the next five years as part of a ‘National Skills Development Mission’. The allocation for skills development in the 10th Plan under the Centrally-sponsored scheme of vocationalisation of secondary education was just INR350 crore.

“What constitutes ‘qualified people’ keeps on changing. The focus is on understanding and managing business processes and technology, which take time to mature.

The gap is growing between the ability of existing education systems to provide e-Skilled workers and managers on one hand, and the requirement of knowledge-intensive economies on the other hand. In a number of industries and regions, this gap is particularly acute, and calls for rapid adjustments in education systems, and improvements of the image of IT jobs. From a policy point of view, addressing foreseeable eSkills shortages may yield significant side benefits. With the right mix of strategies and policies, and the proper dose of engagement from all major stakeholders, the current lack of e-Skills may indeed prove a major opportunity to involve larger share of

E-Skills are pervasive, and not limited to IT specialists; they are increasingly required in all sectors and at all levels of activity in which creativity, innovation, and interdisciplinary teamwork are required as tools for competitiveness; in both the private and public sectors, leaders need not only to be e-Literate, but also to display and grow the new qualities required by ‘e-Leadership’. E-skills will be of central importance to determine workers’ vertical and horizontal mobility, and hence of

The criticality of skill development in our overall strategy is that if we get our skill development act right, we will be harnessing ‘demographic dividend’; if we do not get there, we could be facing a ‘demographic nightmare’

As the 11th Plan Panel said it sometime back, “The criticality of skill development in our overall strategy is that if we get our skill development act right, we will be harnessing ‘demographic dividend’; if we do not get there, we could be facing a ‘demographic nightmare’.” Data collected in the 60th round of National Sample Survey Organisation survey shows that only 3% of the rural youth (15-29 years) and 6% of the urban youth have gone through any kind of vocational training. Acknowledging the gap in the development of skills in an economy that is growing at more than 9%, the skill development mission will aim for a five-fold expansion in public sector March 2009 |

skill development infrastructure and its utilization, and will work to convert ITIs, polytechnics and vocational school programmes into public-private partnerships (PPP). The government has huge commitments in infrastructure, health and education. But does it have enough resources? Is PPP a wayand a model found to make the mission statement workable? A recent report by TeamLease Services Pvt. Ltd, a private recruitment firm, noted that Indian youth are simply unemployable. According to that report, 53% of employed youth in this country suffer from some degree of skill deprivation while only 8% of youth are unemployed. It also said that 57% of India’s youth suffer from unemployability. Probably, in order to address these sort of stern demands of the situation, the government also proposes to create a National Skill Development Fund, which will impose a universal skill development obligation on industry to invest in skill development of the socially excluded sections, minorities and other candidates from families below the poverty line, as a contribution to affirmative action. There are also plans to create a Virtual Skill Development Resource Network, which can be accessed by Digital Learning | Vol 5 Issue 3 March 2009

trainees at 50,000 Skill Development Centres, providing Internet-based learning. In addition, it recommends setting up a National Skills Inventory and a database for Skill Deficiency Mapping, which will facilitate tracking of careers, placement and exchange of information between employers. What can be the possible attributes for the problem of a skill-deprived workforce in the country? Poor infrastructure? Ill-equipped classrooms, laboratories and workshops? Non-performing faculty? Absence of measurement of performance and outcomes? While industry has been complaining about the quality of training at the ITIs, it says, placements are not tracked, training institutes are not rated, accreditation systems are archaic and not progressive. End of training examination and certification systems are either non-existent or deeply flawed. Some sections within it have already initiated efforts to revamp the ITIs. CII has a plan to adopt 147 ITIs across the country. According to it, members of CII will partner with states with an aim to change courses and improvise new ones to better serve the industry needs. Under this, the Centre, after it approves a development plan, will release funds directly to the institute

Challenges in India As per 61st round of NSSO survey, 12.8 m (Usual Status Basis) labour force enters the market every year • Vocational Training infrastructure caters to the training needs of only 2.5 m - 1 m by DGE&T and 1.5 m by 11 other Ministries and Departments • Vocationally trained workforce – only 5% (One of the lowest in the world) • 152 m have no access to the VT who enter informal sector for their livelihood • Productivity of the Indian worker is one of the lowest-US $ 3.05 per person per hour management committee, which will provide more flexibility and authority.

National Knowledge Commission Proposal For Computerised Vocational Training •

• • •

The objective of this proposal is to establish a state-wide network of computerised vocational training centers covering every village in the country and offering training courses on a wide range of occupational skills. Its salient features are: Establish 50,000 training institutes in the country. Establish 40,000 training centres 

India envisions... • • •

• •

• •

• •

Increase skilled workforce from 5% to about 50% by 2021 Increase the training capacity by five times Increase the productivity of Indian Worker from US $ 3 per person per hour to US $ 20 by 2021. Increase trades for training from 107 to 2000 by 2021 Improve quality of training for higher employability & productivity of worker Cover unorganised sector workers also in our formal training umbrella

as privately owned businesses. Establish 10,000 training centres in engineering colleges, arts colleges, ITIs and high schools that have spare computer lab capacity available for morning or evening use. Provide vocational training to a minimum of 10,000,0001 students per annum. Generate self-employment for 40,000 entrepreneurs. Generate employment in the training institutes for an additional 80,000 shop training assistants.

Computerised vocational courses can be offered using the existing computer facilities available at Liberal Arts and Engineering Colleges, Industrial Training Institutes & Polytechnics, Private Training Institutes and High Schools – Public and private. In addition new job shops can be set up under a self employment scheme with the following features: 1. Each centre will provide training in a range of occupational skills. 2. Training material will be offered in a CD-Rom format, so that no Internet connection is required. This will improve 10



accessibility, reduce the cost and eliminate connectivity problems. Supplementary Internet based training may also be offered where feasible. Each centre will consist of one to ten computer terminals and a library of training CDs. Trainees will be able to rent the computer time and CDs on an hourly or course basis. For example, if a course on sales training requires 50 hours to complete, the trainee will pay a total fee for the course and be entitled to 50 hours of computer use for completing the course (e.g. within a period of three to six months time.)

Each centre will maintain a library of popular training courses from which trainees may select the topics of their interest. The availability of computerised training material for a large number of vocational skills is critical to the success of the project. Some of the training material can be drawn from the large number of educational CDs already created in India and overseas (e.g. bookkeeping, sales training, etc). However, large number of new training programmes will have to be created by collaboration between the Government and companies with expertise in the design and development of computerised training courses, such as NIIT, Aptech, Pentasoft and others. These firms will be interested to produce the course material, if they are assured of a large market for the courses. Wherever feasible, course will be certified by a recognised institution to signify that they are of acceptable quality.

Skills Gaps in the World’s IT Workforce A CompTIA International Research Study in February 2008 has highlighted some interesting facts on skill gaps in countries like Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands,

Poland, Russia, South Africa, U.K., and U.S. • The top three most important IT skills are security (74% rating it 6 or 7 in importance on a 1-7 scale), general networking (66%) and operating systems (66%); these skills are expected to decline most in importance over the next five years. • When comparing reported proficiency in skills to importance of skills, the skill with the widest “gap” in proficiency is security/ firewalls/data privacy. • By far, the skill expected to grow most in importance over the next five years is RF mobile, wireless technology (39% say it will be important one year from now vs. 55% say it will be important five years from now). • When asked what their organisations should be doing to enhance employees’ IT skills, the top two answers are sending employees for professional training externally (42%), and providing incentives, rewards (41%). Also important (third in order of importance) is sending employees for certification (36%). • IT managers currently report and anticipate future increase of their staffs (46% currently say increasing, 52% one year from now, and 64% five years from now), the IT workforce of their countries (57% currently say increasing, 59% one year from now, 62% five years from now) and the IT workforce worldwide (65% say currently increasing, 68% for both one year from now and five years from now). • The plurality of respondents (38%) report there are not enough qualified IT candidates in their countries. • Programmers/coders/developers (25%) are the positions most likely to be open, and Quality Assurance positions are the least likely to be open. • An index was created to enable comparisons in confidence about the growth of the IT workforce March 2009 |

among different groups. While IT managers overall are “bullish” about the growth of IT workforces, India, China, Russia and Poland are more confident in that growth than other countries, those in the IT industry are more confident than those in other industries, and small companies are more confident than mid-size or large companies. The fast pace of technological change (52%), budget constraints (51%), security and compliance (48%), and consumer needs (47%) are currently the top factors driving change in the IT industry. An aging workforce is the least important factor now (21%), but is anticipated to grow most in importance five years from now (45%).

A significant number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region have attempted to increase ICT training facilities, either through expansion of existing training institutions or by establishing new ones. In most cases, however, national efforts seem to have consistently underestimated the size of the market for ICT skills. In rare cases where the overall demand and supply balance was achieved, there were imbalances at the individual skill levels: surpluses in some skills and severe shortages in many others. In addition, ICT employers often report of the poor ICT skills imparted by existing training institutions in the region. This can have serious implications for the growth and development of the regional ICT industry. On one hand, there would be large number of unemployed graduates. On the other hand, there would be skill shortage and vacant jobs in the industry. An APDIP (Asia Pacific Development Information Programme) document recently highlighted possible solutions Digital Learning | Vol 5 Issue 3 March 2009

for bridging the gap between ICT skill demand and supply. They include: • A comprehensive and dynamic national planning and forecasting mechanism at individual country level to be supported by a regional mechanism that can monitor regional trends in ICT skill demand and supply; • Expansion of ICT training capacity through encouragement of private sector investment and use of innovative Internet-based

training; Provision of regular monitoring by national authorities on the quality of training; Establishment of skill testing and certification centres at the national and regional levels; Development of regional standards for ICT skills and occupations, and harmonisation of national standards with the developed regional standards; and Investment in ICT research

and development for building capacities and skills in the ICT sector. The rise of ‘parallel universes’ between informal, industry-based education and formal, governmentsupported education, particularly in ICT, highlights the blurring of what were formerly distinctive realms of learning. Appropriate research on policy, legal, financial and institutional frameworks for multi-stakeholder partnership development could support governments in removing political, institutional, fiscal and other regulatory barriers and financial risks for private participation in education, and create innovative policies, institutional set-ups and legislation which encourage the development of partnerships in e-Skills domain. The adoption of multi-stakeholder PPPs in the delivery of e-Skills content implies significant changes in traditional education structures and in the development of alternative education and training channels. Therefore, all stakeholders concerned need to be involved continuously in the changes and opportunities inherent in such a paradigm shift. Innovate or fall behind. This is the simple fact for firms, individuals and societies today in an increasingly competitive, global and knowledge-based economy. Partnerships should not be considered an end in themselves but as an important new strategy for delivering improved services. Whether its partnership, or any other model, it must carry the message that “workforce development is economic growth” and it must continuously ask the question “what knowledge and skills are relevant to effect economic growth?” It must leave behind the concept of “skills gap” and consider instead the concept of a “performance gap”.<< 11

Policy matters

Placing India on Global SKiLL Map What is your assessment of the current status of skill training and employment in India? How are you trying to address the gaps that exist in terms of the demand and availability of skilled human resource? In my view the environment is excellent; but there is massive scope for improvement. The capacity in the public sector itself is about 3.1 million per annum. If we go by the NSSO (National Sample Survey Organisation) 2005 Survey figures, every year about 12.8 million people join the job market. So the entry into the labour market is 12.8 million, while our training capacity is of 3.1 million, which means there is a gap of about 10 million. We are trying to address this gap by employing various strategies and methods. For one we are going to set up 1500 or more Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) in the country, primarily in the unserviced areas in line with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s announcement. There are about 2,859 blocks in the country which do not have any ITI or Industrial Training Centres (ITC). So our objective for the 11th Five Year Plan is to be able to saturate all the blocks in the country with at least one training institution.

The Directorate General of Employment & Training (DGE&T), under the Ministry of Labour, is the apex organisation for development and coordination of national level programmes relating to vocational training and employment services. With the government giving utmost priority to skill development and vocational training to bridge the growing gap of skilled workforce in the country, DGE&T has come under the spotlight. DGE&T Director General Sharda Prasad shares with Digital Learning his assessment of employment scenario in India and his department’s plans vis-a-vis skill development.


For this, we are planning to focus on Public Private Partnership (PPP) and are in the process of requesting proposals from organisations. Government sectors have certain limitations and we want to overcome those limitations. For example government effort is always to reduce the expenditure, so sanction of posts of instructors, teachers, faculty members becomes a recurring problem. So we thought of setting up ITI’s through the PPP approach and supporting the private players through one-time funding. Setting up ITIs in places like the special economic zones, with the help of corporates, would make a lot of sense in terms of meeting the needs of a specific industry. To specifically address the demands for the emerging service sector, we plan to set up about 50,000 skill development centres, with at least one center for a cluster of 8 to 10 villages. These centres will train people in skills like banking, insurance, construction, retail, textiles, etc after preliminary assessments. The Prime Minister’s National Council for Skill Development is also developing systems with a mission of training 500 million persons by 2022. It is a prospective plan which extends up to the end of the 13th Five Year Plan. March 2009 |

With so many stakeholders, how do you ensure quality? We have the National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT), which formulates the competency standards. But we are thinking of re-structuring this body to allow it to play the role of an accreditation body. It could provide standards in different sectors and there could also be accredited Vocational Training providers to impart training according to the standards. When we are expanding, we have to ensure global standards. A survey by Boston Consulting Group and US Standard Bureau predicts a deficit in trained manpower world over by 2020. However, the good news for India is that we will have a surplus of about 47 million. Thanks to our large population, we will have surplus manpower to not only meet our requirements but also supply to the rest of the world. This calls for benchmarking our skills in accordance with the world standards.

How prepared are the private sector to turn the policy into practice? We have worked with the private sector for the last two years. Earlier there was a perception in the industry that skill development was the governmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s responsibility and hence they shied away from it. But now with the realisation that the government can not accomplish it alone, the private sector is pitching in. Like the PPP that we had started last year, we have associated with the corporates for 300 ITIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. All the big names like TATA, Birla, Reliance, etc, you name them and they are there.

On the global map, where would you place India? When we talk of comparing India with other countries, we cannot exactly do it due to the type of problems and diversities that we have. Diversity of geographical regions is a huge challenge. Compared to present world standards, we are definitely deficient. When our economy was growing at a rate of 3.5 %, we had 14

Does the global trend also talk about PPP?

We have the National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT), which formulates the competency standards. But we are thinking of re-structuring this body to allow it to play the role of an accreditation body

surplus manpower. Even today about 6.5 lakh people go out of India every year. But now when our economy had started growing at 8-9 %, we have started feeling the shortage. With our economy becoming globally linked, our manufacturing practices, technology, etc. has started becoming a little obsolete. And therefore this requirement. The question is about scaling up and putting your body, mind and soul together.

We are also working with foreign governments, for example, Germany is supposed to be the best in vocational training in the world. So we have a joint working group with them and are taking lessons from what they have done. Similarly, we are also working with Australia and Korea (which has the highest trained manpower)

Yes, various combinations are being tried gloablly. Germany is entirely PPP based. Infact, the government participation there is very small. The annual expenditure on training is something like 35 billion Euros, out of which only 7 billion is contributed by the government. The rest 28 billion comes from the industry. That is PPP, where the industry takes the lead with 80 % contribution and the rest comes from the government. It is a question of the industry realising its importance; once it does, it will definitely come forward. In Germany, the PPP system came into being as early as 1283 AD. It has seeped into their culture and history. If we want to do the same thing here, it will probably not be possible. But I think there are significant advantages and therefore the industry will definitely come forward. It has already started coming forward. Two years ago, I was struggling to get their cooperation, but today they readily come forward.

Apart from traditional mode, are you also considering other modes of imparting education? Yes, the new policy deals with new modes of imparting training, for example, web based learning, e-Learning, distance learning, lifelong learning, modular learning, using the existing infrastructure of schools during off time, and on-site training. We will be taking up all these innovative methods, some have already commenced, for example, satellite training. Several e-modules are being made and are now available in the market. At the moment we are using whatever technologies are available with us in training. We have the National Instructional Media Institute at Chennai, which is into the course development exercise including e-modules, video modules, multimedia content, all in partnership with the industry. <<

March 2009 |


Skills and Entrepreneurship

Bridging the Technology and GENDER DIVIDE Even though women hold more than 60 % of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-related jobs in OECD countries, only 10 to 20 % are computer programmers, engineers, systems analysts or designers. The large majority of women are in secretarial, word processing or data-entry positions, requiring rather routine, low-level skills or limited technical training


ith an estimated 500 million people entering the global workforce over the next decade, coming to grips with the technological challenge is crucial. Without being ‘plugged in’, millions of women and men risk being left behind. Since women represent a significant majority of these who do not have access, there is a clear gender dimension to the technological divide. Therefore the technology divide is multifold. It refers to a gap between countries that have or do not have easy access to technological advances. Within countries, the divide is between the socio-economic strata of societies that have access to technology and those that do not (particularly in rural areas). In addition, there is a gender gap across and within most countries: almost everywhere women lag behind men either in access to training or in the application of technology. Why is there a wide gap in some parts of the world and not in others? It is more a question of encouragement, pervasive gender roles and attitudes rather than aptitudes, according to the OECD. Girls are far less likely than boys to study engineering or computer or physical sciences. Though women earn more than half of the university degrees in the OECD countries, they receive only 30 % of Digital Learning | Vol 5 Issue 3 March 2009

degrees in science and technology. The percentage of female graduates advancing to research is even smaller, representing less than 30 % of science and technology researchers in most OECD countries and only 12 % in countries such as Japan and the Republic of Korea. Another element to look at is the degree of access women and men around the world have to information and communication technologies. Even though women hold more than 60 % of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)related jobs in OECD countries, only 10 to 20 per cent are computer programmers, engineers, systems analysts or designers. The large majority of women are in secretarial, word processing or data-entry positions, requiring rather routine, low-level skills or limited technical training. Education and skills training increase the ability of women and men to apply new techniques, thus enhancing their employability as well as the productivity and competitiveness of enterprises. Effective skills development systems –connecting education to technical training, technical training to labour market entry and labour market entry to

workplace and lifelong learning - can help women and men benefit from existing and emerging opportunities. Technological ‘catching up’ is also supporting the transition from the informal to the formal economy. In some countries, the growth in womenowned businesses is greater than for private firms as a whole. Supporting women entrepreneurs to introduce new technologies in their enterprises enhances the potential to increase productivity, create employment, reduce poverty, and promote local development. Women go into business in a variety of forms, including self-employment, SMEs, social entrepreneurship, cooperatives and many more. For women to recognise their entrepreneurial potential, it is important to promote role models that coincide with their realities and aspirations. Women also need to overcome other barriers when deciding whether to start a business, such as limited access to credits or traditional patterns preventing women from taking part in income-generating activities or controlling financial resources.

From Veil to Camera

For the 60 % of women employed 15

Skills training is crucial to enable people earning a decent livelihood, whether through wage or self employment. Recognising this, the Government of India is working closely with the ILO for the development of both an employment and skills development policy for the country in agriculture in South Asia, access to quality education, skills training and entrepreneurship development tools not only represents a way out of poverty, but also provides them with opportunities of empowerment in the world of technology, as an ILO Online report from central India shows. As a child, Shantabai dreamt of becoming a professional photographer. However, given that her family was poor and illiterate, she thought this would remain a distant dream. Born in a large family of marginal farmers, Shantabai only had elementary education in her village school before she was married off at the age of 13. Besides working on her husband’s family’s small piece of land, she had to care for her children and her husband’s elderly parents. But one day the dream came true although Shantabai had to go a long way from being a purdah, a poor farmer’s wife who is expected to cover her face behind a veil, to becoming a successful photographer. What is more, through the process, Shantabai has become an inspiration for many 16

women in Palda and the neighbouring villages. She enrolled in several training courses with Srujan, a partner organisation of the ILO’s Workers Activities programme (ACTRAV). These training courses not only provided her with new skills but also motivated her to seek new opportunities to enhance her income. One such training course Shantabai participated in was on photography skills and she decided to make it her profession. Taking a small loan of INR 5,000 (about US$ 125) she managed to purchase a second-hand camera to embark on her journey as a professional photographer. Like her, most other participants of the ILO/ACTRAV training courses are gainfully employed or self-employed, using their skills to enhance their income. So far, the programme has trained nearly 2040 people, many of them from groups in vulnerable situations, who had not been reached

before. One of the key objectives of the programme is to empower women in all phases of life through skills training thus building self-confidence and developing leadership. Financed by the government of Norway, the ILO/ACTRAV Norway Workers’ Education Programme offers 32 skills and vocational training courses, in collaboration with partner organisations in rural districts in south and central India. The courses offered include desktop publishing, photography, maintenance and service of three and four-wheel vehicles, beautician, toy making, among many others. The duration of the courses ranges from 5 days to 6 months. The story of Shantabai reflects a double divide in the access to quality education, training, and technology between the formal and the informal economy, but also between women and men.<< Courtesy: International Labour Organisation, New Delhi

March 2009 |

News | India Cabinet approves National Policy on Skill Development

Th e U n i o n C a b i n e t h a s approved the National Policy on Skill Development proposed by the Ministry of Labour and Employment. The objective is to create a workforce empowered with improved skills, knowledge and internationally recognised qualifications to gain access to decent employment and ensure India’s competitiveness in the dynamic global labour market.

The policy aims at increasing the productivity of workforce both in the organised and the unorganised sectors, seeking increased participation of youth, women, disabled and other disadvantaged sections. This is the first ever Policy in the country and has been evolved after multiple rounds of consultation among different ministries of Central and State governments, industries and employer organisations, trade unions and other stake holders. It aims to synergise efforts of various sectors and reform the present system. The salient features of the Policy are : • Demand driven system guided by labour market signals thereby reducing skills mismatch, • Expansion of outreach using established as well as innovative approaches, • National Vocational Qualifications Framework which will inte-ralia include opportunities for horizontal and vertical mobility between general and technical education, recognition and certification of competencies irrespective of mode of learning, • System to deliver ‘competencies’ in line with nationally and internationally recognised standards, • Focus on new emerging occupations, • Focus on pre-employment training and Life-long learning, • Equity consideration – adequate participation of women, disabled persons and disadvantaged groups including economically backward and minorities – enhancing their access to training; improving employability and increasing employment opportunities, • Stress on research, planning and monitoring, • Involvement of social partners – responsibility for management and financing of the system would be shared with all stakeholders and provide greater space for Public Private Partnership, • Promoting excellence, • Use of modern training technologies including distance learning, e-Learning, web based learning, • etc, and, • Skill upgradation of trainers, their quality assurance, and improvement of status.

Parliament gives nod for setting up 12 Central varsities Parliament has given its nod for setting up 12 Central universities in as many states. Th e C e n t ra l Digital Learning | Vol 5 Issue 3 March 2009

Universities Bill 2009, which also seeks to upgrade some existing universities to that status, was approved by the Rajya Sabha after rejecting amendments moved by the Opposition. The Bill, passed by Lok Sabha earlier, aims at creating one new central university each in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand,

Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. It also seeks to convert Guru Ghasidas Vishwavidyalaya (Chhattisgarh), Harisingh Gour Vishwavidyalaya (Sagar, MP), and Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna University (Uttarakhand) into Central universities.

IIM-C hikes its fees to INR 9 lakh

Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIM-C) has decided to hike its fee to INR 9 lakh for the 2009-11 batch. This is more than double the fees paid by the batch passing out this year. Under the revised fee structure,

students will have to pay INR 4 lakh in the first year and INR 5 lakh in the second year. Current students, who will be promoted to second year in 2009, will need to pay Rs 4 lakh. In spite of the hike, IIM-C fees are still lower than those of IIM-Ahmedabad (INR 11 lakh) and IIM-Bangalore (INR 9.5 lakh). ‘The reason behind this fee hike is an increase in expenditure and skyrocketing prices,’ said IIM-C Director Shekhar Chaudhuri.

After IIT, Rajasthan to get an IIM

With the UPA government announcing the setting up of an Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Rajasthan, the state is set to join the elite ranks of states boasting an IIT as well as an IIM. The largesse at the end of the UPA’s term comes as a surprise since the state did not figure on the list of states slated to get an IIM announced by the Ministry of HRD in March 2008. An IIT was set up in the state last year and is currently being mentored by IIT Kanpur which also houses its campus. The interim Budget has announced that four of the six new IIMs planned for the 11th Plan period would be located in Haryana, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu and would start their academic session in 200910. Continuing its thrust on the education sector, the Government has allocated INR 8,000 crore for the Mid-day Meal Scheme


News | India and INR 13,000 crore for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for the year 2009-10. A whopping INR 1,143.46 crore has been earmarked for the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), a new scheme to give a boost to secondary education.

22 universities across India fake, UP tops at 9: UGC

There are a total of 22 fake universities functioning across the country with Uttar Pradesh having as many as nine of such institutions and Delhi running a close second with six, says a University Grants Commission report. The UGC recently released a list of 22 fake universities that have reportedly been functioning in contravention of the UGC Act in different parts of the country. Uttar Pradesh led the chart with nine fake universities followed by national capital Delhi that has six. One each in Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bangal have also been declared fake by the UGC.

N-Power ties up with Karnataka State Open University

N-Power, the Hardware & Networking training wing of Aptech Limited, has tied up with Karnataka

State Open University to launch a 3-Year B.Sc. degree in Hardware, Networking & Digital Communication (HNDC) and 1-Yr Diploma in Hardware & Networking (HN). Commenting on the tie-up, Ravi Dighe, National Head, N-Power, said, ‘Our tie-up will enable us to offer a Degree along with internship facilities to produce industry ready professionals. There are a number of students across the country who are deprived


of admission to regular colleges because of increasing competition. Our courses would help those students to get a professional education leading to a great career in the ever growing domain of Hardware and Networking.’ A candidate with 10+2 or Pre-University course or equivalent shall be eligible for admission to this program as well as for the 1 year Diploma in Hardware & Networking.

Course bonanza for Delhi University film buffs

Cinema-loving students in DU can now study film at the Institute of Life Long Learning (ILLL), South Campus, which is preparing e-lessons in Film Studies. An exclusive library with books on cinema and rare film classics will also be set up on South Campus by March 31. ‘Films make an impact on our lives. So we felt a need to develop an academic way of looking at cinema. After studying cinema, students can become critics or go for media and production,’ said Nirmalya Samantha, associate coordinator, ILLL. The e-lessons, to be available on ILLL website, will cover history of cinema, language films, genres like comedy, horror, historical, documentaries and technology required in cinema. The e-lessons will be ready by the end of this session. Film Studies was first introduced as an application course for thirdyear students of BA three years ago. However, only Deshbandhu (evening) College took up this course.

NCERT introduced first bilingual textbook for class XI

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has introduced a bilingual textbook for class XI recently named ‘Srijan’. The book has been written under the National curriculum Framework for students practising creative writing as an optional subject at secondary level. The book has been introduced to encourage creativity in children. Srijan is the first bilingual, i.e. Hindi and English, book launched by NCERT. The books are not exact translation but parallel texts. Books in other optional subjects at the secondary level, such as art and aesthetics, will be introduced before the upcoming academic session starts.

UP madrassas ban co-education

Describing co-education in schools as ‘antiIslamic and against the sharia’, Uttar Pradesh Board of Madrassa Education (UPBME) has banned the system in seminaries across the state. This has evoked strong reactions from clerics and community members who oppose the ban. Most community leaders say that with the limited means and scope of education of Muslim children, such restrictions will deprive them of learning. Defending the move, UPBME chairman Haji Rizwan Haq said that in Islam, ‘parda’ (veil) is essential and co-education encourages ‘be-pardagi’ (women without veils). This, he says, flies in the face of sharia and since madrassas are centres of Islamic education, it’s important to implement the sharia in these institutions.

Manipal invests INR 75 cr in TutorVista, forms JV

M a n i p a l Education and Medical Group (MEMG) has invested about US $15 million (INR 75 crore at current exchange rates) into online tutoring entity TutorVista. The cash infusion will see MEMG and TutorVista arm Edurite Technologies forging a joint venture (JV) in the primary education space. The latest development will also lead to MEMG increasing its stake in TutorVista to a significant minority. In 2007, MEMG invested US $ 2.5 million as venture capital funding in TutorVista. However with the latest round of funding, MEMG and TutorVista appear to have forged a strategic alliance. Through Edurite, rebranded as Manipal K-12, the combine will set up greenfield schools or seek management takeover of existing schools. << March 2009 |

News | Asia Report blasts primary school education in Bangladesh

Around 70 % of children in Bangladesh who complete their primary education are unable to read, write or count properly, according to an internal report by the Department of Primary Education (DPE). 69 % of students who had completed five years of primary school were unable to read news headlines in Bangla newspapers properly, while 87 % of pupils failed to do simple mathematical calculations, the study, entitled National Assessment of Pupils of Grades Three and Five - 2006, said. Conducted by the Second Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP-II) - a donor-assisted programme to ensure quality primary education for all children - the study reported that 72 % of children were unable to write a short composition in Bangla - the mother tongue of over 95 % of the population. The report also found students “pitiably weak” in English, which plays a key role in day-to-day life, particularly in business, higher studies and technical education.

Lapus calls upon educators to focus on education in rural areas

Philippines Education Secretary Jesli Lapus has called on educators in the Asia Pacific to look for creative approaches to bring education to different groups of marginalised learners especially in rural areas. Speaking at the regional Conference on Multiple Approaches of Education for Rural Areas: Lesson from Good Practices, he said, ‘The educational needs of children from isolated areas, remote and rural communities and religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities require a different mindset and a new paradigm.’ The event was organised by both DepEd and World Bank and drew some 100 participants from countries in the East Asia and Pacific Region. The conference included discussions to help participants identify best practices, examples, pedagogical methodology, education delivery options, policy recommendations that would be useful in achieving EFA goals.

More Smart Schools in Malaysia by 2011

The Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC) is helping Malaysian Education Ministry upgrade 50 rural and underserved schools into Smart Schools. MDeC, said upgrading work will be done in three phases beginning with 15 schools this year, 15 more next year and 20 in 2011. Senior Manager, Smart Schools, Dr Norrizan Razali, said the 50 schools located nationwide will be modelled after the country’s pioneer 88 smart schools.


MDeC will use a different approach to upgrade the rural schools to smart schools. Unlike the first batch of Smart Schools, most of the rural schools are not high performing and don’t have the same kind of access to information like the first batch. ‘By the end of this project, MDeC also hopes to have a model to transform more rural schools into Smart Schools,’ Norrizan said.

Zardari calls for a task force for technical skills of youth

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has advised the government to set up a task force to formulate concrete proposals for enhancing technical and vocational skills of the youth in order to meet the requirements of both national and overseas job markets. He said this during a briefing on the vocational and technical training for skill development. The President said the international job market was shrinking and Pakistan could penetrate the market deeply only if it provided suitably qualified and trained workers and technicians that fulfilled the requirements of the job markets in the Middle East, Europe and US.

expressed concern over the increasing trend of brain drain in Nepal. Addressing the sixth convocation of the Pokhara University (PU), he said the country needs educated and skilled youths for development. ‘The country lacks skilled and able manpower as the educated ones are leaving abroad. We cannot create a new Nepal unless the increasing brain drain stops.’ Prime Minister Dahal, said that the government plans to bring new scholarship programmes in order to make education accessible for the impoverished and disadvantaged groups. He also stressed on the need for excluding the culture of strike and protest in education sector.

Slow economic growth not to hit employment opportunities in Malaysia

More than 800,000 students currently pursuing their studies at higher learning institutions would not face problems in securing jobs although Malaysia is expected to register lower economic growth, said Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin. Mohamed Khaled said more jobs and new business opportunities would be stimulated because the government would increase public spending although the private sector has been cutting costs, including retrenching their workers. ‘Despite the current economic situation, jobs are still available in business and service sectors because the spending capacity in the country is still universities are encouraging entrepreneurship programmes,’ he said at the inauguration of a national Information and Communication Technology (ICT) seminar. <<

PM Dahal expresses concern over brain drain in Nepal

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has March 2009 |

News | World Cellphone industry makes pitch that Smartphones belong in classroom

The cellphone industry has a suggestion for improving the math skills of American students: spend more time on cellphones in the classroom. In a study conducted by Digital Millennial Consulting, 9th and 10th grade Math students of four North Carolina schools in low-income neighborhoods were given high-end cellphones running Microsoft’s Windows Mobile software and special programmes meant to help them with their algebra studies. The study found that students with the phones performed 25 % better on the end-of-the-year algebra exam than did students without the devices in similar classes.

Brazil schools to rollout 350,000 virtual desktops in world’s largest and cheapest deployment

Userful and ThinNetworks have been selected to supply 356,800 virtualised desktops to schools in all of Brazil’s 5,560 municipalities. This initiative will provide computer access to millions of children throughout the country. It will also save 60 % in upfront costs and 80 % in power usage compared to t ra d i t i o n a l PC desktop deployments. On completion the project will be the world’s largest ever virtual desktop deployment; the world’s largest ever desktop Linux deployment, and a new record low cost for PCs with the PC sharing hardware and software costing less than US $ 50 per seat.

New IDC MarketScape ranks leading technology vendors

IDC has released a new MarketScape report profiling and ranking the leading technology vendors participating in the worldwide IT education market as a line of business (LOB)


to support the sale of their technologies. IDC MarketScape vendor analysis reports utilise a rigorous scoring methodology that produces a definitive assessment of each vendor’s current market capabilities and strategies for competing in the future.

new initiative builds on the 2020 Trust’s highly successful Computers in Homes programme, which provides a computer, internet connection, training and support for families in low income and disadvantaged communities.

IDC MarketScape: Worldwide IT Education and Training 2009 Vendor Analysis evaluates ten providers based on a comprehensive framework and set of parameters that assesses vendors relative to one another and to those factors expected to be most conducive to success during the near and long-term. The vendors included in this analysis are Cisco, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Lawson, Microsoft, Oracle, Red Hat, SAP, Sun and Symantec. The MarketScape placed Red Hat in the ‘Leaders’ category with a number of vendors in hot pursuit as ‘Major Players’ The study also found that participating vendors are universally strong at integrating a variety of delivery options in their portfolio and are consistently improving their offerings as new approaches become viable.

Chinese students to dominate world market: Report

Microsoft NewZealand funds US $ 1.2 million digital literacy and skills training programme

Nearly 5,000 families will benefit from digital literacy and skills training following a US $1.2 million injection of funding and software by Microsoft New Zealand to the 2020 Communications Trust and regional partners. The grant, which includes Us $ 800,000 in funding and software worth Us $ 400,000, will be used to fund digital literacy

and information technology skills training programmes throughout the country over the next three years. ‘ICT has an important role to play in raising New Zealand’s prosperity. We are committed to playing an active role in New Zealand’s economic growth and social opportunity,’ said Kevin Ackhurst, Microsoft New Zealand’s General Manager and Chair of NZICT. The

Students from mainland China who go abroad to study far outnumber those from any other country and they will continue to increase their domination of the international student market for decades to come, says a new report by IDP Education, Australia’s main student recruiting agency. This mobile group of young hopefuls is scattered around the world and they contribute an estimated US $ 6 billion in fees to higher education institutions. More than 350,000 mainland Chinese students are believed to be studying for degrees at overseas universities this year and the number is predicted to rise to 645,000 within 20 years. The report further said that although students from India come second in terms of global mobility, they lag well behind the huge crowd from China. Fewer than 130,000 Indian students were studying abroad in 2005.

Espresso wins Institute of IT Training’s prestigious Silver Award

Leading education provider Espresso Group has won the prestigious silver award, ‘Training Department of the Year’, at the 2009 IT Training Awards held in London. Celebrating quality, excellence and best practice within IT training since 1995, the awards are firmly established as the benchmark for excellence throughout the industry. The ‘Training Department of the Year’ award recognises a training department within a private sector organisation providing exceptional IT training to internal clients. This covers training development, management, delivery and operations. Judges praised Espresso Group for demonstrating consistent high quality and innovation – both in terms of content, client support and instructional techniques. Overall, they described Espresso Group as a fully blended solution; face to face, online and other value-add to support product training. << March 2009 |



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Fighting the Unemployment Virus

Pulling the Strings of Vocational Education India is one of the youngest nations in the world, with about 54 % (more than 500 million people) of the population below the age of 25. Nearly 44 % of India’s labour force is illiterate, only 17 % of it has secondary schooling, and the enrolment in higher education is just 11 % (World Bank, 2009). Ten million youths are expected to enter the workforce every year for whom provision for education and training have to be made to fulfill their aspirations and improve the quality of lives through decent work and livelihood opportunities. 89% of the workforce is employed in the unorganised/informal sector and just 11% of it is in the organised/formal sector.


ocationalisation of Education implies an organised way of development of task-related skills at various stages of education for laying a strong foundation of competencies (knowledge, skills, attitude, and values) among youth, so that they are prepared for the ‘world of work’. It is being promoted in schools through (i) Life-oriented education in Classes I to VIII, (ii) Pre-vocational education in Classes IX and X, and (iii) Vocational Education in Classes XI and XII. Adding academic component to vocational training or vice versa has been the foundation of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) in most of the countries. For example, in France, the vocational content is added to the secondary education, whereas in Germany the ‘Dual System’ of VET is based on alternating between work and school. Of course, there are many other intermediate or mixed VET systems in other countries, with increasing or decreasing propensity towards academic education.

Dr. Vinay Swarup Mehrotra (, Reader, PSS Central Institute of Vocational Education, Ahmedabad


Vocational Education and Training in India caters to the requirements of a wide variety of target groups, which include school students, youth, artisans, craftsmen, adults, neo-literates, unskilled and semi-skilled workers, socially disadvantaged groups-women, differently-abled persons, ex-servicemen, etc. VET pathways for these target groups are available through the informal, nonformal and formal education system. Programmes imparting VET to nearly 3.1 million persons every year are funded by more than 17 Ministries, including the Human Resource Development, Labour and Employment, Agriculture, Small Scale, Non-conventional Energy Sources, Rural Development, Health, Information and Broadcasting and Women and Child Development, Social Justice and Empowerment, etc. The status of major Institutions offering formal VET programmes is given in table. In today’s economic structure, the workers are required to exercise critical thinking and imagination so as to bring about innovativeness and creativity in products and March 2009 |

services, which are now critical factors for sustained growth in the marketdriven economy. Economic growth now depends heavily on the ability of the workforce to constantly improve its skills (upskilling) and retrain in new skills (retraining), especially for the emerging technologies and enterprises. It is now more common for people to undertake education and work simultaneously. Employment adjustment has become a common phenomenon due to economic recession, change in occupation/job and employment policies, especially those related to hiring workers. People now increasingly move backward and forward between different forms of education and training (part-time courses, sandwich courses, etc.) and work (part-time or full-time). Workers will have to continuously upgrade their competence (knowledge, skills and abilities) through “life-long learning” opportunities to become “knowledge workers”.

Deficiencies and Disorders in VET System

There are various deficiencies and disorders in the existing VET systems.


Some of these have been discussed with a view to generate sensitivity to VET concerns and to provide a food-for-thought on how we can adopt the right mix of ‘approaches’ for overcoming the shortages and removing the defects in the various systems. (i) Informal Training System I would like to share an episode, which compelled me to think over the disorderliness of the existing informal training system. Once, I went to a hairdressing saloon for hair cut. On my turn, I was asked by the “Young Hair Dresser” to be seated in the chair, an instruction which I obediently followed. The young hair dresser jerked the white cloth, which bore the brunt of hair dye and pieces of hairs and quickly wrapped it around me. He then picked up the ‘dirty’ comb and scissors for initiating the ‘task’. I requested him to change the cloth with a clean one and wash the comb and scissors before using them. He declined to my request and gave his eventual answer “What is wrong with this”, and I had to succumb to his emphatic reply and ultimately gave way to prevent his


Vocational Schools (10+2 level)


Polytechnics Industrial Training Institutes Advanced Training Institutes Institutions for Diploma in Pharmacy Hotel Management Institutes

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Digital Learning | Vol 5 Issue 3 March 2009

further arguments. But to my surprise, the owner of the saloon, who happened to be sitting on the stair, reacted over the conversation and scolded the young hairdresser for not heeding to my request of using a clean cloth. The young hairdresser yielded to his ‘command’ and replaced the cloth with a clean one. During the hair cutting session, I pondered over the episode and tried to analyse the system of informal training, wherein the trainer or Ustad (a majority of them have passed primary or upper primary stage of education, but some of them have not even seen the four walls of the classroom) and the student or Chotu (the one who has left the school at primary or upper primary stage mainly for economic reasons and is compelled to earn to support the family) shares the ‘common interest’ of earning some money for their bread and butter. A majority of the people are getting trained through the informal training system for working mechanically on-the-job, without understanding the difference between the ‘wrong’ and the ‘right’ or the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ practices. The training provided

Courses Offered 150 vocational courses in agriculture, business & commerce, engineering & technology, health & paramedical, home science, and humanities. Engineering courses 57 engineering & 50 non-engineering trades Engineering based courses Pharmacy Hotel Management


by an ‘Ustad’ in small Automobile Workshops, Electrical/Electronic Gadget Repair and Maintenance Service Centers, Tailoring Shops, or Hairdressing Saloons is a case in point. The vocational pedagogy adopted by the Ustad is ‘task-based’ and ‘learnercentred’, as most of the tasks are ‘performed’ by the Chela under the direct supervision of Ustad who in turn ensures the ‘learning outcome’ through constant ‘monitoring’ and ‘feedback’ and providing ‘remedial instruction’ at every step of the ‘procedure’. The ‘technical’ skills imparted to the youth through the gigantic and ever expanding system of informal vocational training does not provide them the “life-long learning” opportunity which is necessary to bring about necessary behavioural or attitudinal changes and to make them aware of their social rights. People, especially those who are traditionally burdened with social and economic responsibilities within the household, often prefer the informal training, which offers “flexibility in terms of entry and period of training” and also enable them to “earn while they learn”. Introduction of Mobile Education and Training Vans (METV) equipped with necessary tools and equipment and trained teachers and trainers for educating and training workers at different workplaces could be a possible solution to providing generic skills and preparing workers for lifelong learning (Mehrotra and Sacheti, 2008). (ii) Non-Formal VET System The non-formal VET offered through Jan Shikshan Sansthans, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Non-Government Organisations and specialised VET Institutions of Khadi and Village Industries Commission, etc. which offers short duration vocational courses is sporadic and largely uncoordinated. There are very few successful examples of non-formal VET programmes run by NGOs or Civil Society Organisations, which include (i) Dr. Reddy’s Foundation, 28

educational content if they are not combined with other support services such as open learning opportunities and teaching/training programmes on micro-finance, market information and other business development services.

Only 16% of Indian firms offer in-service training, compared with 92 % in China and 42% in Republic of Korea. The Indian firms that provide in-service training are 23-28% more productive than those that do not (World Bank, 2007)

(ii) Don Bosco’s Tech India, (iii) Rajasthan Mission on Livelihoods (RMoL), (iv) Institute for Livelihood Education (iLEAD) by Aide et Action, (v) Rural Development and Self Employment Training Institute (RUDSETI), (vi) Society for All Round Development (SARD), (vii) MAYA Organics, (viii) Consortium of Women Entrepreneurs of India (CWEI), (ix) Action for Social Advancement, etc. Employers and employer associations (like Confederation of Indian Industry) are organising short duration training programmes in newly emerging skills as they have the technology and their supervisors have the expertise to train fresh recruits. Only 16% of Indian firms offer in-service training, compared with 92 % in China and 42% in Republic of Korea. The Indian firms that provide in-service training are 23-28% more productive than those that do not (World Bank, 2007). The non-formal training programmes do not bring much in terms of

(iii) Formal VET System Transition of youth and young adults from school to the world of work is an important policy issue for majority of the countries. It is considered as an important strategy for tackling the issues of mad rush for higher education and the high level of youth unemployment. The higher secondary education (referred to as 10+2 stage) is dual track i.e., there is an academic and a vocational stream. The Vocational Education Programme (VEP) running in nearly 6000 schools at the higher secondary stage offers vocational courses of 2 year duration. No doubt, the VEP has produced vocational graduates, who have proved their worth in securing both wage and self-employment, but in some States/UTs slow poisoning of VEP has taken place due to lack of adequate infrastructure and equipment, inflexible curriculum, ill-trained teachers or trainers, administrative problems, and above all lack of sufficient funds. Paradoxically there are many Institutions which do not have proper tools and equipment. The burning question is “How the students are being trained in the absence of tools and equipment?” In the organised sector, Industries still continue to face skills shortages and recruitment difficulties. Skills shortages, however, occur for a variety of reasons, which include: (i) growth of new industries with few readyskilled people available; (ii) relocation of new industries into different regions with a different skills base; (iii) location of industry, or project-based work in rural or regional areas, with a small skills base; (iv) technology changes and new methods being adopted within an industry; and (v) changes in skills need to successfully undertake trade and business March 2009 |

The Vocational Education Programme (VEP) running in nearly 6000 schools at the higher secondary stage offers vocational courses of 2 year duration. (Richardson, 2007). On the other hand, skill gaps may occur where the prospective employees do not possess the required qualifications, experience and specialised skills to meet the needs of an occupation. A majority of students passing out from Colleges and Universities lack the required employability skills to do the jobs in the Industry. According to India Labour Report, (2007), almost 53 per cent of the employed youth are suffering from some kind of skill related problem while 8 % of the youth are underemployed. The report has also pointed out that as much as 90 % of employment opportunities require vocational skills, something that is not being imparted in schools and colleges. It is quite astonishing that while the largest proportion of job-opportunities relate to middle level employment, 90% of such jobs prescribe a university degree as an essential qualification, though in most of these positions, what are needed are “skills” to perform tasks effectively and efficiently and not a university degree. The possibilities for a vocational graduate to continue studies in higher academic education do exist in some of the States/UTs for certain courses in Commerce, Agriculture, Science and Humanities but in practice this is not a significant path because most of the vocational students could not pass the entrance exams for higher education and are forced to take up employment in an unrelated occupational area or remain unemployed. There is a need to develop a “vocational route” with Universities Digital Learning | Vol 5 Issue 3 March 2009

and Colleges so that the vocational passouts can pursue courses in the same chosen area for a vocational diploma or degree. VET should be integrated with economic and employment policies so that opportunities could be created for self-employment and microenterprise development. One way of promoting entrepreneurship development is to set up Production-cum-Training Centres (PTC) or Service-cum-Training Centres (STC) in all VET Institutions. These centres will not only be useful in providing off-the-job or simulated training and assessment conditions, but would also serve as a source of income for the various stakeholders of VET including the students, as is the case with the informal training in the unorganised sector, where both the Ustad and Chela share the income generated from the job done by them.

Dealing with Deficiencies and Disorders A unified VET framework with modern planning and strategic approaches, which can direct the myriad changes in VET should be adopted by the States/UTs for

According to India Labour Report, (2007), almost 53 % of the employed youth are suffering from some kind of skill related problem while 8 % of the youth are underemployed. The report has also pointed out that as much as 90 % of employment opportunities require vocational skills, something that is not being imparted in schools and colleges.

correcting the deficiencies and disorders.

Planning Some countries are moving towards National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) system as a means to raise occupational standards, introduce flexibility and facilitate labour mobility. The NVQ system exists in countries like New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom, Finland, etc. It provides multi-entry and multi-exit options to the learners through a set of nationally recognised occupation based modular courses. This kind of an alternative education and training system is needed in our country to link the formal and non-formal VET programmes and to prepare manpower required at various levels. It will also be useful in (i) providing recognition of prior learning (RPL) through competency testing, (ii) providing skill training to a wide variety of target group through formal and non-formal system, and (iii) evaluating and certifying competencies according to the nationally recognised standards. The recent VET initiatives in India involving the Government and Private partnership will lead to the establishment of a credible, trustworthy and reliable training, testing and certification system linked to national occupational standards set by the Industry or Employers. In Australia, for example, partnerships between Industry and registered training providers are encouraged, especially as assessment in the workplace or simulated conditions is required for most training packages offered under a National Vocational Qualification framework. Government policy will play a vital role in implementation of NVQ system in our country, but the Industry will have to take a lead role in guiding and establishing a framework of NVQ system. The Government of India has recently constituted the National Council on Skill Development (NCSD) to guide 29

activities for skill development in the country. The council is at the apex of a three-tier structure and would be concerned with vision setting and laying down core strategies for skill development (Planning Commission, 2007). Private sector participation in skill development programmes has been minimal as most of the VET programmes are run by Government Institutions. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has initiated “Skill Gap” studies across the nation to identify the skill needs and gaps of various sectors in different States/UTs by 2015. Construction, plumbing, electrical work, telemarketing, retail management, food processing industry, floriculture, plantation crops, driving, hospitality, tourism and insurance have been identified as the grey areas where skilled manpower requirements would increase tremendously in the years to come. Involvement of private sector in benchmarking for skill standards, performance standards, and evaluation is critically important as they are the ultimate users of the skill activities. Vocational surveys are being conducted in collaboration with the Industry Associations to know the employment avenues and aspirations of the youth in a particular area and to match the demand with supply of skills. Initiatives for delivery of VET through Public-Private Partnership mode are being taken by the Government, Employers, Professional Associations, Industry, Employee’s Trade Unions, Local Community and NGOs.


Curricular flexibility involves flexibility with reference to three main dimensions: (i) flexibility over time, e.g., updating the curriculum due to changes in competencies demanded by occupational practice; (ii) across space, e.g., adjustments to regional conditions and (iii) across individuals, e.g., meeting the particular needs of individual 30

students. It may involve face-to-face study, practical sessions, distance education, online education, action learning, problem solving, etc. The curriculum should be so designed as to develop skills of the levels and quality acceptable to the employing agencies; the acid test of effectiveness of the curriculum will lie in the employability of the learner. Higher order thinking skills (HOTS) are essential to develop the ability of people to think creatively, make decisions, solve problems, visualise, reason, analyse, interpret, and know how to learn. Providing easy access to Information Technology facilities and designing training curriculum and content that are IT-oriented will provide new opportunities to the learners. Networking of learners through Internet-enabled on-line learning system would help in upgrading knowledge and skills through regularly scheduled lectures, web pages, videos, discussion through E-mail and chat sessions and on-line tests.

Management Putting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to work in VET management will be useful in monitoring the VET system through the management information system. Institutional Management

Committees for smooth functioning and quality assurance of the vocational Institutions and courses should be established by all the Institutions.

Funding VET costs more than general education, and it is thus important to manage resources and costs efficiently. Government will need to continue to finance and provide skills training in the immediate future. This is a long-term process, and it thus requires policies that compensate for the limits of the private sector training. The involvement of the private sector in funding and implementing VET programmes should be secured through various Associations and Committees of Employers/ Industrialists, both at the local and State level. A provision of donation of a percentage of earnings made by an enterprise/industry through the sale of products or services should be made to a centralized “VET Fund”.

Conclusion Radical changes in the educational structure are needed to deviate from the annual pattern to the semester pattern of curriculum organisation and evaluation in VET. If we want to pursue the goal of reforming VET in India, we must first review the educational policy and current educational practices and then develop new educational models and practices to meet the challenges and demands of a strong and cohesive learner-centred VET system. There are wheels within wheels in VET, which needs to be replaced from time to time to remove the complications and disorders. There is a need to raise the quality, efficiency, relevance and productivity of VET programmes. This would require better physical facilities and equipment, tailored teachinglearning materials, better training facilities, stronger linkages with the industry and incentives for the faculty and staff. <<

March 2009 |

Corporate diary | Leader’s Speak

REPAIR or PREPARE the Skill Pyramid!

Other than proving its unique presence as a staffing company, what spaces does TeamLease operate in? Teamlease is a people supply chain company that provides a range of temporary and permanent staffing solutions to its 1000+ clients. To provide our core services we also offer regulatory compliance, pension fund administration, payroll processing, online customer service and candidate assessment.

Is professional education an important part of a CV of an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship is not a qualification but an attitude. Entrepreneurs do more than what people think is possible with less than what people think is needed. They challenge the status quo. They put together teams of people and make them accomplish more than what they thought was possible. I do not believe that education hurts but I am pretty sure that professional qualifications do not necessarily make for entrepreneurship skills. In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs do not do things themselves but cobble together teams of people who are better than than them. Entrepreneurship requires persistence, patience, vision and boldness.

58% of India’s youth is not work ready or suffers from some kind of skill deprivation. While the privatisation of skill development is an important solution to the problem, the bottom of the pyramid of skills needs huge public policy intervention in skill delivery and financing. Manish Sabharwal, Chairman,TeamLease Services Private Limited, shares more on the skill pyramid, with Digital Learning.


You have entered into partnerships with different State government for Skill Upgradation trainings. What is the thinking behind such new initiatives? Is this a need/ demand of the time for a staffing and HR company, to go for skill upgradations? Teamlease is a people supply chain company running out of inventory. We estimate that more than 58% of India’s youth is not work ready March 2009 |

or suffers from some kind of skill deprivation. While the privatisation of skill development is an important solution to the problem, the bottom of the pyramid of skills needs huge public policy intervention in skill delivery and financing. Our partnerships with state governments are designed to produce youth who have the skills that employers need.

What are the major trends in skill development education that you see? India’s labour market and skill crisis has its roots in three problems; matching (connecting supply to demand), mismatch (repairing supply for demand) and pipeline (preparing supply for demand). We think that policy and private initiatives will cover the whole spectrum of issues. The privatisation of skill development will happen in some skills but policy will have to undertake a broad based review of how the supply (candidates) can be produced for the demand (employers).

Which are the areas that you provide skill development services in? How do you train your employees? Is there any effort by TeamLease to convert raw material into ready talent? We are working with over 20 training companies to manufacture employees to our 800+ Ideal Candidate Profiles (ICPs). We conduct entry gate assessments and direct our interview rejects to our training partners. We are also now considering exit gate certifications that will signal the credibility of trained candidates to employers. Our client base pretty much covers the GDP; blue collar, services, manufacturing, sales, admin, etc so our engagements are pretty broad.

With the current lull and retrenching in the Indian job market, what is the future of employees? Most people do not realise that this global crisis makes India a more attractive destination in the medium term (2+ years). What is happening in India is not once in a decade or once in Digital Learning | Vol 5 Issue 3 March 2009

India’s labour market and skill crisis has its roots in three problems; matching (connecting supply to demand), mismatch (repairing supply for demand) and pipeline (preparing supply for demand) a millennium but once in the lifetime of a country. Losing jobs is always a personal tragedy but a year of low tide was probably overdue after so many years of high tide. I think the hyperinflation of employee costs and real estate was making India a hostile habitat for entrepreneurship over the last few years and this slowdown will make us competitive again. We must also keep things in perspective around job losses, because 93% of Indians work in the unorganised sector for whom job security, social security and workplace safety are distant dreams.

How do you see the country’s vocational training system? Do you notice any problem in it? India’s vocational training system has many challenges. Financing is not linked to outcomes and therefore is not self-healing and often does not lead to employment. Government financing is only available for government delivery and therefore government delivery does not have clients but it has hostages. The system does not distinguish between repair and prepare while those are different thought worlds. The system does not have effective entry gate assessment or credible exit gate certification. There are other issues around the use of technology, teacher training, outdated curriculum, and much else.

In one of your article you quoted the Nobel Laureate Sir Athur Lewis’ hypothesis, ‘a developing nation’s

wages rise quickly when the surplus labour supply from rural areas tapers off’. So will the recruitment focus shift from urban markets to smaller towns…? In the short run we cannot take jobs to people and will have to take people to jobs. Job creation happens in clusters and needs soft and hard infrastructure. India has 6 lac villages of which 1 lac have less than 200 people; this is too small and unviable for the soft and hard infrastructure that creates fertile soil for organised job creation. I think urban and semi-urban areas will be the engines of economic growth even though we hope this is in new cities rather than shoving more people into Mumbai!

What is your view on the functioning of the government bodies, on skill development, the certification, registration, accredition measures, etc. What do you feel- they overregulate or under-supervise the systems? The current regulatory regime has tried to control quantity to control quality and we have ended up with neither. We need to think about governance and results and shift from accreditation to outcome. The system will not become self-healing till we link financing to outcomes and the oversight system must build these capabilities.

What would you like to add to the current agenda of skill reform? All the ideas are on the table between the knowledge commission, skill commission, planning commission task force and many other committees. We now need to move into execution mode and take on the status quo who has a vested interest in the current dysfunctional system. We could create a focus on outcomes by ranking institutions. We could create reward and punishment structures for states that act on skill issues and create skill mission. I don’t think there is an idea that has not been tabled; we need to move into execution. <<


Corporate diary | Leader’s Speak

Converging Efforts Towards

EMPLOYABILITY W ith lack of employability of Indian talent threatening to plague growth, the industry has realised the need to build a base of employable manpower in the short-run and have sustainable skill development measures in place to safeguard the future of the industry. These market dynamics have paved the way for unique initiatives by industry pioneers and skill assessment companies, like MeritTrac, involving themselves with key stakeholders to develop solutions for employability. As one of the early recognisers of the impending employability issue with in-depth understanding of the talent pool dynamics in India, MeritTrac has been at the forefront initiating programmes, developing innovative models and introducing products to develop a pool of employable talent. Since its inception in 2000, MeritTrac has assessed over 4 million candidates for over 400 clients across industry verticals like IT, BPO, BFSI, Engineering, FMCG, Healthcare, Retail, Manufacturing, PSU’s and Education. MeritTrac’s Test Development team has created a validated tests in over 300 areas. A report by NASSCOM-KPMG has estimated a short-fall of 500,000 ‘employable’ graduates for jobs in the IT and BPO industry by 2009. Several talent pool reports, including those by MeritTrac and McKinsey has indicated that only 25 % of Engineering graduates in India are ‘employable’. To ensure the transformation of a ‘trainable’ workforce into an ‘employable’ workforce and to create a robust and continuous pipeline of 34

talent for the IT and Engineering industry, MeritTrac partnered with NASSCOM in conceiving NACTech solutions as an industry standard assessment and certification programme. NAC-Tech identifies the level of talent which is available across India, especially in Tier II and Tier III cities and provide feedback on specific areas to enhance employability. In 2008, the NAC-Tech test was taken by 1132 Engineering students from Punjab and Haryana at Rayat & Bahra Campus, Chandigarh. Of them, 162 students were made final offers, with a met-to-offer ratio of 36 %. Through NAC-Tech assessment, MeritTrac hopes to cover 1,00,000 students by December 2009. Although the state-level/retail NAC-Tech scale for test delivery already exists, under which 159 colleges have been covered and 5000 testing terminals already available, it wishes to increase college foot-print to 1000 colleges across India. TracSkills, another employability programme of MeritTrac, is the individual certification programme for IT, BPO and the MBA talent pools that are assessed and provided structured feedback on industryreadiness to thousands students across the country. TracSkills MBA provides directions to these MBA students and complements their education through industry benchmark programmes.

Madan Padaki, co-founder and CEO of MeritTrac, shares his deep understanding on talent pools and industry best practices and processes in skills assessments...

March 2009 |

What is your assessment of trained human resource demand in the industry? Which are the ‘hot sectors’ that will drive the demand in the coming years? If you look at the next five years, the sense that we get is that sectors like Internet and communication technologies, BPOs, retail, hospitality and tourism will continue to grow. A lot of research is being done in the industry on the issue of employability and employment opportunities status in India as they say there is going to be a massive jump in demand for trained workforce. Of course, the next year is going to be a blip in terms of the current global financial downturn. But in long-term, the Indian growth story for next five year looks very intact and many of the sunrise sectors will exponentially grow. I am fairly bullish from the employment opportunity perspective.

Given the current economic recession, what in your view are the concerns or opportunities for India’s talent pool?

In the current economic scenario, the demand for quality is expected to increase, leading to more competition in the market for skilled manpower. This was however, not the case in the past, when fuelled by a high growth rate, even a person with average talent could

The employability of our graduates and MBA’s is a very big issue. According to the figures available with MeritTrac, the employability ratio of our MBA or engineering graduates or even nonengineering graduates is 15-25 %

Digital Learning | Vol 5 Issue 3 March 2009

get recruited as more jobs were available. Thus it becomes all the more important for our talent pool now to start building their skill sets. The employability of our graduates and MBA’s is a very big issue. According to the figures available with MeritTrac, the employability ratio of our MBA or engineering graduates or even non-engineering graduates is 15-25 %. The common parameters we take into account while assessing employability are: communication skills, analytical thinking and problem solving, how fast a person can learn, and finally the work ethic or ability to transform oneself from the campus to corporate scenario. Employers cutting across all sectors look for these parameters while employing a graduate. And most of our graduates lack these skills. The reason being our education system stressing on rote learning and memorising. In my view, this is a big concern and its high time our graduates worked upon acquiring these skills.

How do you help corporate India manage its ‘white collar’ work force? What model do you follow?

MeritTrac is wholly into assessment, we do not provide any kind of training or related services. We believe that what cannot be measured cannot be improved. We first do a series of assessments that help organisations understand what skill sets their employees have, and what needs to be achieved. Once adequate training is provided to their workforce, we come back with our assessments and measure whether that training has been affective or not. For example, for one of the largest retail chains in India, we assessed all their frontline executives across variety of skills which included communication skills, mental ability, sale and customer service skills, etc.

In the current economic scenario, the demand for quality is expected to increase, leading to more competition in the market for skilled manpower. Thus it becomes all the more important for our talent pool now to start building their skill sets Our models of assessments are mostly homegrown. We have never been a part of any model ourselves. Our perspective is that what works in other parts of the world may not necessarily work in India. So the tests are designed and delivered for our clients keeping in mind this perspective.

Would you like to share with our readers some of the key learnings from your entrepreneurial journey? Having survived one downturn in 2001 and facing another one now, I think one of the main learning is obviously, to never give up. If you believe in something, you have to keep going irrespective of any situation or downturn and give your 200 %. Second is the ability to dream and of course translate that dream into a reality. Sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day stuff, that we forget the big picture. Third is, I think, the ability to co-opt your entire ecosystem, be it investors, customers, employees, partners, etc. This is very important for the success of any entrepreneurship. Always think of collaborative approaches to all issues. <<


Corporate diary | Product

Distance Learning through



lus Business Machines take pride in introducing High Definition Video Conferencing System from Lifesize. With travel becoming difficult and expensive, High Definition VC System can help Guest faculties to deliver lecture on important subjects from any part of the world. It also gives option to implement solution in institute or university where faculty can deliver lecture in one room and students can attend it in various classrooms at far locations. Lifesize offers various products depending on connectivity required for one or more locations which are as follows. LifeSize Express: Designed to offer point to point connectivity with brandwidth support upto 2 Mbps. LifeSize Team MP: This system provides the capability to connect 3 locations at a time and in turn view all the 4 callers simultaneously without any external equipment. Bandwidth support upto 4 Mbps. LifeSize Room: This system has the ability to connect upto 5 locations, thus facilitating a 6 party call. Bandwith support upto 6 Mbps. Plus also offers very important product like Taxan Multimedia Projectors which are essential for presentation during Video Conferencing.Projectors available with High Brightness : 2500 to 4200 Ansi Im. Also, Plus Electronic Copybords with various sizes are useful for discussion during lectures where faculty can write and also take prints. << Vinay Khetawat ( can be contacted for further information.


March 2009 |

News | Corporate Inaugural Dell YouthConnect grants awarded to organisations in India, Brazil and Mexico

Dell has awarded its first Dell YouthConnect grants, totaling more than US $ 2.7 million, to 11 organisations in Brazil, India, and Mexico. The grants support technology education for youth 17 years old and younger, and promote math, science and technology-skills development in emerging countries. Together with the grant recipients, Dell assessed their technology and infrastructure needs and awarded cash and in-kind grants in three categories: Strategic partnership grants of up to US $ 500,000 to support one-year pilot programmes; Seed funding grants of up to US $ 100,000 to support organisations and programmes that do not yet have the capacity for strategic partnership grants; and Employee-directed giving grants of US $ 50,000 or less to support organisations with existing, meaningful involvement and support from Dell employees.

Indian students to have access to international degree programmes through LearnHub. com

In a first of its kind initiative, LearnHub. com, the social learning network run by Canadian company Savvica, will now allow Indian students to apply directly to over 19 universities and colleges in the USA, Canada and UK for over 700 high quality degree programmes from their website. ‘Our aim is to empower Indian students and give them easy access to information on pursuing their higher studies in overseas college and universities and the option to directly apply to these institutes and degree of their choice online from our website,’ said Malgosia Green, CEO, Among the 19 universities and colleges who have partnered with to gain access to its broad and growing membership of motivated Indian students are University of Kentucky (USA), University of Stirling (UK), New England Institute of Technology (USA), University of Wisconsin-Steven’s Point (USA), University of New Brunswick (Canada), and many more highly regarded research and career/technical institutions from across the USA, UK, and Canada.

Infosys institutes ‘Infosys India Prize’ in five categories

Infosys Technologies Ltd. has set up an ‘Infosys Science Foundation’, a not-for-profit trust to promote research in sciences in India. Under the aegis of the foundation, Infosys will honour outstanding contributions and achievements by Indians across various sciences. The annual award for each category is INR 50 lakh. The Infosys Science Foundation will be funded by a corpus of INR 21.5 crore contributed by Infosys executive board members and an annual grant from Infosys Technologies Ltd. The ‘Infosys Prize’ categories include: Physical Sciences – Physics and Chemistry; Mathematical Sciences – Mathematics and Statistics; Engineering Sciences – All branches of Engineering; Life Sciences – Biology and Medicine; Social Sciences and Economics – Economics, History, Sociology, Political Sciences and other Social Sciences.

Digital Learning | Vol 5 Issue 3 March 2009

Government and Intel collaborate to promote IT education in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Education has tied up with Intel to present 20 schools in the country with 425 units of Intel-powered Classmate PCs. This is as part of an innovative scheme taken by the Ministry to foster IT education in the island following the government’s recent announcement that 2009 would be the Year of English and Information Communication Technology (ICT). On the occasion, Education Minister Susil Premajayantha said, ‘The scheme offers school communities a localised electronic curriculum, internet accessibility, educational information sharing and promotion of use of emails as mode of effective communication.’ He added

that many schemes are underway to better promote ICT education, like 1000 additional Computer Learning Centres, 800 schools with broadband connectivity under SchoolNet, relaunch of Teacher PC programme, Wi-Max and Wi-Fi wireless technologies with laptops for deserving schools.

Educomp Solutions to set up budget schools

Educomp Solutions is planning to set up budget schools, to be called the Vidya Prabhat schools, in small towns and rural areas across the country. The firm said it will set up five such schools by July 2009, and increase the number to 100 in the next 2-3 years. The schools will charge students Rs 700 per month. The first schools will come up at Bazpur, Gadarpur, Kashipur and Bahl Parav in Uttarakhand. Educomp will invest close to INR 70 lakh per school and expects each school to enroll about 700 students. The schools will focus on providing affordable conventional education, using latest educational methods, aided by technology, as well as vocational training. ‘There is a shortage of over two lakh schools in the country, especially in small towns and rural areas. Also, most of the tier 3 cities do not have access to schools that offer quality education, usually available in large towns and metros. We hope to fill this gap,’ Educomp Solutions CEO Shantanu Prakash said.

Microsoft India introduces host of customised Language Computing Solutions

As part of its ongoing efforts towards overcoming the language barrier to computing, Microsoft India has introduced a host of custom made solutions for the Indian market. The solutions and tools include: Language Interface Packs (LIPs) in 12 Indian languages – Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Hindi, Kannada, Konkani, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Tamil and Telugu - for MS Office and Windows. A total of 45 additional soft (virtual)


News | Corporate keyboards, which are free to download, are also available in these 12 languages. Windows Live will also be available in seven Indian languages. In Microsoft’s most significant initiative to reach out to Indic developers, the Captions Language Interface Pack (or CLIP) has been launched for Hindi, Malayalam, Oriya, and Tamil. This is the first time Microsoft has released a tool specifically to help students and beginner developers in India use the product in their own language.

BAF Award 2009

Learning solutions provider, Tata Interactive Systems’ 3D animation film titled ‘Special Deeds for Special Needs’ has won the top spot in the ‘Best Animated Film on Social Welfare’ category at the FICCI Best Animated Frames Awards 2009. The animation film was conceptualised and created in-house by TIS to be showcased at their corporate sustainability event - The Tata Interactive Learning Disability Forum (TLDF) in 2008. The recently set up animation division of TIS created the 3D animation for this award winning film. J C Mistry, Head - Corporate Sustainability at TIS said, ‘We are honoured to receive this award in the social welfare category. Such awards are vital channels for sensitizing corporates about their roles as good citizens and this win has encouraged us to raise our benchmarks in CSR.’

Dialog Enterprise to connect 350 Sri Lankan schools with Wimax

Dialog Enterprise, an integrated business division of Dialog Telekom PLC, will break new ground by providing internet connectivity to 350 schools across Sri Lanka using revolutionary 4th generation Wimax technology. Under this 90-day project, schools in far off locations such as Medawachchiya, Poonduluoya and Sewanagala will enjoy internet connectivity and bring them on par with the benefits reaped by their urban counterparts. The 350 schools, whose primary medium of instruction are Sinhala and Tamil, are spread across all districts of the country, excepting the North. CEO, Dialog Fixed Telephony and Broadband Services, Kavan Ratnayaka said, ‘This is yet another extension of Dialog’s greater vision to enrich Sri Lankan lives with multi-sensory connectivity. We are indeed proud and happy to partner with the Ministry of Education and contribute to its laudable effort to take the benefits of internet connectivity to all schools in Sri Lanka.’

TIS’s 3D animation film on learning disabilities wins FICCI 38

Convergys aids rural women in India with mobile computer lab

Convergys Corporation, a company providing customer care, human resources and billing services, is collaborating with ngo MASUM (Mahila Sarvangen Utkarash Mandal) to fund a mobile computer lab that will provide vocational computer training programme for the women of Mavadi and Naigon villages of Maharashtra. ‘Through this initiative, we hope to bridge the digital divide in a small way. Volunteer work also provides a unique learning experience for our employees,’ said Deepak Mathur, director and site leader of Convergys’ operations in Pune. Apart from training, the programme also reaches out to the school children of Naigaon and Pisarve villages to familiarise them with computer-based education and help them secure direct employment opportunities in the future. The collaboration entails Convergys taking charge of funding the mobile outfit and teaching staff, while MASUM ensures day-today delivery of training.

Learning Hour launches free helpline for exam-stressed students MAIT launches ‘Digital Inclusion’ programme in partnership with Microsoft MAIT, the apex body representing India’s IT hardware, training and R andD services sectors, has launched a unique corporate social responsibility campaign titled ‘Digital Inclusion - IT Adoption for Growth and Employability’ by tying up with its member companies to facilitate access to computers and software to the digitally deprived with an aim to enable them to develop skills in IT and become employable.

In a first-of-its-kind initiative, MAIT has partnered with Microsoft to donate computers and software to NGOs, who are engaged in taking IT education to the rural/poor masses. Commenting on this unique initiate, MAIT Executive Director, Vinnie Mehta said: ‘While IT has become an integral part of our life, its penetration remains confined to the urban areas alone. We hope that through this initiative we will be able to make available the hardware at no or marginal cost to the deserving.’

Learning Hour, which is into school tutoring, has launched a free helpline which will provide stress counselling to students and also help them solve any academic problems and doubts they may have before their board exams which starts from March 2, 2009.

The tutors at Learning Hour have been given special training to instil a high degree of confidence in the student about their ability to perform well in board exams. The tutors are available on phone, chat and also in Learning Hour’s virtual, online classrooms to help students with their problems. These tutors will also be available across all Learning Hour tutoring centres for students to visit and ask their problems. <<

March 2009 |

Higher Education Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani

Frontrunner In Quality Technical Education

BITS is synonymous with quality technical education in the country. It has many firsts to its credit, be it integration of technology in its examination system, strong industry-academia linkage, or innovation in academics to suit the global technological advances. BITS provides three-tiered education in the fields of engineering, technology, economics, management, and pharmacy with an aim to leverage critical manpower gaps across industries. Digital Learning caught up with BITS Pilani Vice Chancellor Prof L K Maheshwari to discuss what makes BITS stand out in the field of technical education.

What position does technical education occupy in Indiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s higher education sector? There is a great need for technical education in a country like India, especially as far as trained manpower is concerned. The role of technical eduction is to create an integrated personality who not only has a good grasp of his/her subject but is also equipped with communication skills, computer skills, inter-personal skills, Digital Learning | Vol 5 Issue 3 March 2009

management skills, etc. These skills are of utmost importance in this era of globalisation, particularly in dealing with cultures of other countries. What is important is to have a broad-based curriculum in technical education, integrating science, engineering, and technology skills. This will place people from these vocations in greater demand. This is what the experience of BITS has

shown. We have been practising this over the last 35 years and you can find BITS alumni every where in the world.

What ICT initiatives have been taken by BITS Pilani in rendering an effective teaching-learning atmsophere? BITS has the reputation of pioneering the online examinations for 39

admissions through the path breaking integration of BITSAT. In this process, over a lakh students take the admission test, which is available over a period of 35 days. Under BITSAT, students have the freedom to chose the city, day and even the time of test in the online mode. The scores obtained in each segment is made available instantly at the end of each session. Unlike other institutions like IITâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, even the counselling of our students before admission is done online at our campuses. All the information is accessible online and our registration process is also completely digital. Another novel project from BITS is Embryo, which fosters collaboration between BITS academics, researchers, alumni and students through lectures, research projects, and exposure to current research trends around the world. The aim of the project is to make available the rich pool of academic and industry experience to BITS students by leveraging the Internet and video conferencing technologies so as to enable alumni anywhere in the world to deliver live interactive online lectures to students. at BITS Pilani. Almost hundred lectures have been delivered till now in different subjects through this project. We also run training programmes for employed professionals working in areas of engineering, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, micro-electronics, etc through blended learning approach. BITS has also conceived and designed the BITS Virtual University (VU) offering multimedia course to enable people who are off-campus to avail of the facilities offered to a normal on-campus student registered under the same programme. The advantage of this concept of VU is that students can get a degree from BITS, while being off-campus. Since these courses are web-enabled, the student can work in his own comfortable environment at his own pace and is not restricted to the classroom. 40

Embryo is a novel project which fosters collaboration between BITS academics, researchers, alumni and students through lectures, research projects, and exposure to current research trends around the world BITS has always been on the forefront as far as linkages with industry is concerned. Please share some examples. Our partnerships with the industry go back a long way to 1970â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. According to the latest estimates, we have collaborations with around 154 companies such as Wipro, Patni Computers, Tech Mahindra, Bharat Forge Ltd, Boston Analytics, General Motors, Motorola, Morgan Stanley, Symantec, TATA, etc, through which they provide training as well as scholarships to our students. Wipro runs a four-year programme called WASE, through which our BSc students are trained at Wipro campuses in Chennai, Pune, Bangalore, Hydrabad, Kolkata, etc. We also have a concept called Practice Schools, which is a structured programme involving student and

The Practice School (PS) method of education is a controlled simulation of real life and creates the circumstance whereby the university is linked with the world of work

faculty participation in the industry to deal with real-life problems. The Practice School (PS) method of education is a controlled simulation of real life and creates the circumstance whereby the university is linked with the world of work. The curriculum through PS finds a formal method of bringing the reality of the world of work into the educational process. In short, as a part of the total programme, it takes the classroom for a period of 7.5 months to a professional location where the students and the faculty get involved in real-life problems. Credits obtained by the student at the station form a part of his total credit towards his degree. BITS-industry partnership also extends beyond curriculum to social initiatives. BITS Pilani campus runs a BPO in collaboration with a local business group where we train the local educated youth in BPO jobs like medical transcription, etc. So far we have succeeded in providing employment to 60 rural youths trained in this BPO and are hopeful of scaling it to 1000 jobs.

What was the idea behind setting up of NEN? National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) is a non-profit venture of the Wadhwani Foundation involving five premier academic institutions in India, namely BITS Pilani, IIT Bombay, IIM Ahmedabad, SP Jain Institute, Bombay and IBAB, Bangalore. Under NEN, we have set up a Centre for Entrepreneurial Leadership and also conducted a number of workshops to develop entrepreneurial leadership as well as facilitate entrepreneurial activities among our graduate engineers. As part of NEN, we have recently set up a tele-medicine project in a nearby village. Our Goa campus has developed a number of information systems through mobiles called Avishkar Project. Through this, the rural people can get information on various subjects related to agriculture, education, health, governance, etc. << March 2009 |

School Track

Inculcating Knowledge And Skills Among Children

S S Minhas, Principal, Guru Harkrishan Public School, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi

Guru Harkrishan Public School, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi, is not just a school, but an institution with a vision of fostering an environment where children are free to learn not just the basic skills and concepts but also discover and develop their hidden potential.As enshrined in the school’s motto ‘Vidya Vichari Tan Parupkari’, meaning he is learned who does good to others, the aim is to produce ideal members of the society – ideal Harkrishans who have knowledge and skills, possess character traits which others would like to emulate, and have balanced personalities. In conversation with Digital Learning, Principal S S Minhas details the guiding principle of the school, and its stress on technology and education as a complete package.

Digital Learning | Vol 5 Issue 3 March 2009

In what ways does GHPS render excellence in all aspects of education? The school is dedicated to providing the highest possible levels of excellence in all aspects of education including academic, culture and sports. Guru Harkrishan Public School is not just a school, but a movement with a vision to nurture the future. It creates an environment where the child is free to learn not just the basic skills and concepts but also discover his hidden potential and develop it to its fullest extent. It strives to create situations which extends his field of vision so that there is an awareness of the future and a sense of readiness to face the world. Responding to a very important social and educational need, the school has introduced a scheme of special education for children with learning disabilities. The objective of

the scheme is to help such children overcome their learning deficiencies and gradually integrate their education with the mainstream by providing a congenial environment as well as using specialised and scientific techniques.

What pattern of curriculum is followed by the GHPS? The school follows the pattern as laid down by the Central Board of Secondary Education with some modifications. We have a provision to keep Punjabi as an optional language in Class 10 CBSE examinations. Divinity is taught as a compulsory subject in all classes. Introductory computer education is given to all students from Class I-VIII. Information Technology as a subject has been introduced as per CBSE norm in Classes 9 and 10, if a student shows aptitude he/she can keep it as an optional subject too. 41

GHPS has introduced a scheme of special education for children with learning disabilities. The objective is to help such children overcome their learning deficiencies and gradually integrate their education with the mainstream Can you elaborate on ‘Divinity’, which forms an integral and essential part of the school curriculum?

Along with scientific education, we also endeavour to impart a sound sense of spiritual values based on glories. Divinity is an integral and essential part of the school curriculum. All students are required to undergo a course in Divinity, which is treated as a regular subject. Apart from classroom teaching, students are encouraged to participate in various competitions in Gurmat quiz, declamation, Gurbani recitation and kirtan, and religious trips to historical places.

What initiatives have been taken by the GHPS for integrating ICT in its system? In the present day scenario we cannot do away without integrating information and communication technology in our curriculum. Our school is taking various initiatives to install ICT system in the campus. Recently we entered into a collaboration with a private company on trial basis and would install and implement ICT system in our classes in due course of time. It is proves successful, we would further upgrade it. We also use SMS’s while conveying 42

information to the parents of our 3000 students.

How do we see the impact of ICT integration in teaching learning process? The ICT integration in modern system of education has enhanced the motivation, concentration and effectiveness of a teacher. The focus now is on the student rather than the teacher. With ICT, it is learning by doing, seeing and observing. This transformation shall bring in better learning techniques, be more gainful with its stress on creativity and problem solving, develop reasoning and communicative skills, etc. Integration of ICT is known to have a positive impact on students achievement and motivation.

In your view, what major challeges are likely to be encountered while integrating ICT in school education? The hurdles or challenges varies from school to school and also depends on the location of the schools, that is whether it is in an urban or rural area. Some of the immediate hurdles faced are:a) Educational technology courses are taught in a rather traditional way and shows less proof and evidence of implementing in some schools

Along with scientific education, we also endeavour to impart a sound sense of spiritual values based on glories. Divinity is an integral and essential part of the school curriculum. All students are required to undergo a course in it

b) The lack of trained and qualified teachers to work in common schools owing to various reaasons c) Lack of availability of proper infrastructural facilities in most of the institutions d) Lack of budgetary planning and interest of the school managements as well as of that of the head of the school in some cases e) The mismatch between available hardware and software to develop the required learning resources f) Lack of availability and support from the technical staff as well as for the fear of experience cost of maintenance. g) The time duration of these ICT educational courses are too short to inculcate knowledge amongst the students and it need to be improved so that maximum students are benefited h) The syllabus of education is not as per ICT system and is given less emphasis in using computer based knowledge i) ICT basics are taught to teacher trainers focusing on technical parts only and hence some schools have shortage of trained staff members in information technology

How can capacity of teachers be built in rendering technology mediated education? Schools play an important role in imparting effective and quality education. The major challenge is to have trained staff with missionary zeal with skills to impart ICT education; infrastructure; finance; separate laboratories as well as the interest to introduce it in a congenial atmosphere. Teachers already engaged should be made to go in for compulsory training and refresher courses in IT so that ICT could be implemented most efficiently. All institutions must encourage teachers to learn computers, the latest in information technology and encourage inter-school seminars, workshops as well as various periodical refresher courses. We need to develop amongst the teachers the ‘will to learn, will to do, and will to acquire’. << March 2009 |

School Track National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS)

Upscaling Open Vocational Education I n view of universal elementary education (UEE) and proposed universal secondary education (USE) the number of seats for vocational education and training is estimated at 3.3 billion whereas at present the capacity to train the personnel is 3.3 million. In order to achieve this, it will be necessary to use innovative methods like e-Learning, ODL virtual classroom and generally speaking much greater use of ICT. A strategy from the point of view of open Vocational Education Programme (VEP) through distance learning mode is suggested in this line. The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) offers Vocational EducationalCourses in the major areas of Agriculture, Business and Commerce, Engineering and Technology, Health and Paramedical, Home Science and Hospitality Management, Computer and IT related sectors, and various other General Services Sectors through Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode of Education. At present NIOS offers 70 Vocational Education Courses in the above mentioned areas. During Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-08 to 2011-12), NIOS proposes to increase the number of courses from 72 to 200. The enrolment in the Vocational Education Courses is proposed to be increased from 22000 in 2006-07 to 3 lakh in 2011-12. NIOS takes special care of education of disadvantaged through the Accredited Institutions for Education of Disadvantaged (SAIED). Out of 60 SAIEDs, 27 SAIEDs are offering Vocational Education Courses. The number of SAIEDs for Vocational Courses is proposed to be increased 44

from 27 in 2006-07 to 100 by the end of Eleventh Plan. In order to cope with the challenge of providing Vocational Education Courses to a large number of youth and adults, the Open Schooling system is required to be upscaled substantially. NIOS, offering 70 Vocational Education Courses at

NIOS, offering 70 Vocational Education Courses at present, will expand its programme to offer about 200 Courses by the end of XI Plan present, will expand its programme to offer about 200 Courses by the end of XI Plan. The State Open Schools (SOSs) are also required to offer need based Open Vocational Education Courses preferably in Regional Medium. In order to operationalise the Open Vocational Programmes effectively

in India, NIOS has developed a Draft Curriculum Framework in Open Schooling (CFOS ). The CFOS include guidelines related to (i) Resources, (ii) Evaluation and Certification, (iii) Manpower Assessment and Need Analysis, and (iv) Programme Planning and Quality Management. Labour Market Information System will be established to collect the necessary information on the skill requirements and skilled manpower needs for different sectors of economy. This will be done in collaboration with CISCO, CII, CIDC, IFCO foundation, IMA, RCI, HCL, Microsoft, APTECH, MICO BOSCH, etc. NIOS has already entered into agreements with IMA, RCI, CISCO, CIDC, IFFCO foundation. Industry-Institution collaboration and similar collaboration with other sectors will be established for identification of manpower, development of sector-wise skill profiles, identification of courses, development of modular competency based curricula and learning materials, experts for providing training, workplace training /in-plant training, competency based assessment of trainees by the assessors, competency based joint certification, sharing of resources and placement of students. In order to develop Vocational Education Infrastructure in rural areas, one of the interventions of NIOS is in the form of Rural Community Workshops (RCWs ) as prototype infrastructure training -cum â&#x20AC;&#x201C; production- cum - service centres. The number of RCWs is proposed to be increased from 9 in 2006-07 to 150 by the end of Eleventh Plan.<< March 2009 |

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Announcement 5th

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Mark Your Calendar March 2009 The eLearning Guild Annual Gathering 2009 10-13 March 2009 Orlando, Florida, United States cfm?selection=doc.1087

GLOBAL EDUCATION FORUM 10-12 March 2009 Dubai, United Arab Emirates html

Network Centric Learning for Defence Academies and Colleges: Towards Authentic ePractices 25 to 27 March 2009 Stellenbosch, South Africa

6th International Conference on INFORMATICS, EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY AND NEW MEDIA IN EDUCATION 28-29 March 2009 Sombor, Serbia, Yugoslavia

5-th eLSE 2009 - eLearning and Software for Education 9-10 April 2009 Bucharest, Romania

2009 International Conference on Education Technology and Computer (ICETC 2009) 17-20 April 2009 Singapore, Singapore

Interactive Mobile and Computer Aided Learning, IMCL2009 3 - 5 April 2009 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

ETEN (European Teacher Education Network) 23-26 April 2009 Izmir, Kusadasi, Turkey

2nd e-Learning and Distance Education Conference (ELDEC) 30 to 31 March 2009 Islamabad, Pakistan

2009 International Conference on Future Computer and Communication (ICFCC 2009) 3-5 April 2009 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2009 International Conference on Information management and engineering (icime 2009) 3-5 April 2009 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

National Digital Inclusion Conference 27-28 April 2009 London, United Kingdom csp?pageID=2932&CSPCHDx=0000000000000&CSPIH N=108058-108058:443&CSPSCN=CSPSESSIONID&eve ntID=17&mode=preview&version=future&eventID=17

25 to 27 March 2009 Hyderabad International Convention Centre, India

25-27 August, Hyderabad International Convention Centre India Fifth annual eIndia 2009, the largest event in India on Information and Communication Technologies, will be held on 25 - 27th August at Hyderabad International Convention Centre, Hyderabad, India. This three-day international conference and exhibition is a unique platform for knowledge sharing in different domains of ICT for development and facilitates multi-stakeholder partnerships and networking among governments, industry, academia and civil society organisations of various countries, including India. The objective is to bring together ICT experts, practitioners, business leaders and stakeholders of the region onto one platform, through keynote addresses, paper presentations, thematic workshops and exhibitions. eINDIA 2009, through its four seminal conferences, will focus on four emerging application domains of ICT for Development: e-Governance, Education, Rural Development, and Health services. The four tracks of eINDIA are: • eGov India • Digital Learning India • eHealth India • Indian Telecentre Forum

Call For Papers eINDIA 2009 seeks abstracts/ proposal(s) for speakers who illustrate innovation in using information and communication technologies for development, by 15 April 2009. Abstract Submission: 15th April 2009 Notification of Acceptance of Abstract: 15th May 2009 Full Paper Submission: 30th June 2009 Submit your abstracts/proposals at papers@

Exhibition eINDIA 2009 will also host an exhibition featuring the best in cutting edge technology across India and beyond. The list of exhibitors will be made available online and will be updated regularly in the run up to the event in August. For more details on the event, log on to

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March 2009 |

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Skills Connect - from policy to practice : March 2009 Issue