The Chandigarh Education Department offers 21 vocational courses to senior secondary students, but many government schools are short of teachers and laboratories required for these courses.

City schools are lagging in providing adequate facilities for vocational and skill-based education in schools and colleges, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying stress on it.

The Chandigarh Education Department offers 21 vocational courses to senior secondary students, but many government schools are short of teachers and laboratories required for these courses.

The vocational courses offered range from bakery and confectionery to financial market management. Courses are also offered in medical lab technologies, automobile technology, banking and insurance, stenography and computer applications, among others. However, for majority of these courses, no separate laboratories have been made at the city government schools. These skill-based courses, started to train students for jobs, have failed to serve the purpose.

“There is just one room for classes on vocational courses in our school. No practical training is provided. We are only made to learn the subjects in theory. We want to gain more practical training, so that we can get jobs after XII,” Rajat, a student of class XI, told Chandigarh Newsline.

The vocational courses that are currently being offered at the government schools are broadly classified into four categories – home science, health/paramedical, engineering and commerce.

The course structure for these subjects is prescribed by the Central Board of Secondary Education, with focus on practical training. As per the curriculum, students are required to get practical as well as on-the-job training for these courses. But little practical training is currently available in the city government schools. For the 91 government high schools and government senior secondary schools in the city, where these courses are currently offered, there are only 20 vocational teachers and no lab attendants. Out of these 20 teachers, 10 are regular, and the others are part-time teachers.

Officials from the Education Department, however, stated that efforts were being made to ensure availability of better facilities for vocational courses. Over the years, even though the Education Department has launched these courses in more government schools, not much has been done so far to improve the quality of the courses.

However, heads and teachers of government schools believe that there is a lack of initiative by the Education Department in this regard. “We offer a course in electrical technology, but there are no laboratories available. What is the point of teaching students about electrical technology only theoretically?,” a teacher of GMSSS-47 told the Chandigarh Newsline.

Swarn Singh Kamboj, president of UT Cadre Educational Employees Union, said, “It is all an eyewash – there are no proper laboratories, and not enough teachers. The Chandigarh Education Department has failed to realise the importance of offering vocational education. For many students, who cannot afford higher education after class XII, the vocational courses are of utmost importance. If a student is well trained in a specific vocational course, his employability increases.”

“There are some courses in plumbing, basic garment technology and air conditioning and refrigeration. These are courses that help students in getting a basic understanding of these areas, which in turn can help them in securing jobs in these fields. However, due to lack of focus on vocational training, the entire purpose is being defeated,” Kamboj added.

Another vocational teacher of automobile technology said, “The purpose of vocational courses is to make the students self-dependent, but due to lack of proper facilities, students are only opting for these courses in order to score good marks as these courses supposedly have easier marking patterns. Serious reforms are needed in the way the Education Department is handling vocational education in the city.”