Technical Education in India
(Dr D B Singh, Director, IEC- GI, Greater Noida)
The growth of any nation largely depends on the technological advancements. The technological advancements in turn influence the Technical Education System. The technical education faces many hurdles in response to societal, technological and economic changes in the environment both at domestic and foreign front. The debate today is not only about the value and role of Technical education in the social and economic development of a nation but also on the broader aspects. Technical education is widely recognized as a vital part of the total education and training system. The real challenge is how to reposition it by shifting towards a developmental paradigm that holds sustainability as its core. It is hoped that this paper will provide a definite idea on technical education and its importance and some useful insights on the underlying meaning, policies and choices which may help to shape the systems of technical education and training further.
We are living in an era of technology. And, it is appropriate to state that technology now rules supreme in a civilized society. Human being has mastered largely the forces of Nature through application of technical skills. The day is not far when the computers and even the robots will rule every field of work.
In the prevailing scenario, technical education is therefore, essential to run our workplaces, offices, factories and various fields of production. That is also financially advisable. However there are a few households in an Indian towns, that do not depend upon machinery, directly or indirectly. However, most of the towns, villages do depend on technology in one way or other. Manual labour is being taken over by steam, diesel, gas and electrical power. The mighty forces of Nature are being harnessed to serve the needs and wants of people. It will not be exaggeration in saying that we are dressed by machinery, transported by machinery, lighted by machinery, our very catering and amusements are being ministered to by the mechanical contrivances of radios, televisions and cinemas and internet arrangements. Every home has to depend on electricity; every office is equipped with telephones and teleprinters, and computing machines of all kinds. Even the playgrounds have electrical scoreboards and timekeepers. And this mechanization of life will increase exponentially and may expand manifold as days would roll on.
Hence we have to be mechanics and technicians to manage these, and must build up heavy industries to manufacture these. The need for industrial or technical education in our country is therefore no longer a subject of debate or discussion.
Technical Education – Issues and Concerns:
The Encyclopedia Britannica defines Technical Education in the following words:
“Technical education, is the academic and vocational preparation of students for jobs involving applied science and modern technology. It emphasizes the understanding and practical application of basic principles of science and mathematics, rather than the attainment of proficiency in manual skills that is properly the concern of vocational education. Technical education has as its objectives the preparation of graduates for occupations that are classed above the skilled crafts but below the scientific or engineering professions. People so employed are frequently called technicians. Technical education is distinct from professional education, which places major emphasis upon the theories, understanding, and principles of a wide body of subject matter designed to equip the graduate to practice authoritatively in such fields as science, engineering, law, or medicine. Technical occupations are vital in a wide range of fields, including agriculture, business administration, computers and data processing, education, environmental and resource management, graphic arts and industrial design, and health and medicine; technical educational curricula are correspondingly specialized over a broad range. Technical education is typically offered in post-high-school curricula that are two years in length, are not designed to lead to a bachelor’s degree, and are offered in a wide variety of institutions, such as technical institutes, junior colleges, vocational schools, and regular colleges and universities.”
Career and technical education is a term applied to schools, institutions, and educational programs that specialize in the skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies, and career preparation. It was formerly (and is still commonly) called vocational education; however, the term has fallen out of favor with most educators.
Thus technical education is education in some art or craft and is the need of the hour. We are living in the age when old concepts of education have undergone a sea change. We are not in need of liberal education, education that implies training in the fine arts, the humanities, cultural patterns and behavior, and aims at developing a man’s personality as it was in the pre-independence days. Today, we need skilled workers. Manufactured goods worth crores of rupees are being imported every year. There is scarcity of food. Our industries are not doing well, especially in comparison to their western counterpart. We need worthy engineers to man them. We also need mechanized farming to increase the yield of crops. All this is only possible if we give a technical turn to our education and if skilled labour is made available.
At present there is less number of quality technical institutions in the country. And the reason is not far to find. Unemployment, therefore, is paramount in the country. The jobs of clerks in offices too, are limited. All educated young minds cannot be absorbed in this vocation either.
The chances of technical education to succeed are high when a large population of the nation becomes adequately and sufficiently literate. It is an excellent idea to train and educate an electrician’s son in the latest development of his trade, but it may be equally bad idea to expect him to become a first rate electrical engineer unless he has gone through a primary course in liberal education. It is, therefore, not wise to put liberal and technical educations in water-tight compartments. The proper policy would be to give due weight to liberal education in the early stage, say upto 10th Level, and then the main course of technical education should be started on the basis of the student’s choice, aptitude and inclination.
It is well established fact that India is sufficiently rich in mineral resources but most of them have not been tapped appropriately. The government is keen to utilize this natural wealth. More and more technical institutions are, therefore, being opened in the expectation of exploration of natural resources. A large number of technical hands are pouring out of our universities every year. It is a good sign, but unfortunately our industries are still mediocre and the number of jobs / opportunities available is quite less. No nation could generate the progress unless it promotes technical education appropriately for the industry. The technical education produces technicians for all type of industries and it is true that the progress of a country much depends upon its Industrialization without which a sound economy would not be possible.
Technical education sometimes makes a man narrow and materialistic in outlook and makes him unfit for the true appreciation of art, music and literature. A highly specialized worker in the branch of industry is of no use in another. It is necessary for perfect life that man should learn to earn his living and to learn the art of living at the same time. While stressing the importance of technical education, we must always keep in mind that the best education, the education that goes most towards developing decency and culture, is still liberal. Technical education must always be aware of the higher end; and so long as it keeps it in view, it is bound to be of immense help in the building of our country’s future. It is therefore necessary that the Human Values and interdisciplinary concepts should also be taught along-with technical Concepts. Keeping this point in view, the Human Values as a Non- Credit paper has been introduced by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University, Lucknow (formerly known as UPTU). The teachers of all the technical institutions affiliated to AKTU were also trained by the faculty members from premier institutes such as IITs, NITs so that they could teach the students effectively in the classes.
Academia – Industry Interface
Global competition has called for a close interaction and collaboration of knowledge institutions with industry, entrepreneurs, society and market. Indeed, the interaction has become essential for the survival and growth of both the academic fraternity and the industry professionals in a highly competitive world. There is thus a strong need to promote interaction between the institution and industry.
The technical students have succeeded in creating a culture of innovation but often those innovations are not brought to proper attention. The need is to take such innovations to market. This requires creating necessary mechanisms and structures including partnership with venture companies to shape the laboratory level innovations to the industry accepted designs and innovative products. The technical institutions must have an R & D cell to give a destination to the innovative concepts. There must be certain centres for excellence in association with premier institutions. The students must have ample opportunities for regular interaction with the industry and leading institutions. They must be motivated to participate in many co-curricular activities in professional institutions.
The Professional Societies
The professional societies help in nurturing a student’s mind and abilities. These societies such Institution of Engineers (India), Institution of Electronic and Telecommunication Engineers, Computer Society of India etc. recognize academic as well as professional achievements of individuals by electing them as Members or Fellows, hold seminars and workshops in selected emerging areas and publish status reports, enhance engineering temper and industry-academic interaction through a variety of programmes.
Provisions like the credit transfer facility should be provided for students to complete a course of study in more than one University, facilitate movement from one department to another as per the interest and capabilities of students, encouraging and offering research ecologies and tours to attract and retain some of the best talents of the rest of the world. Foreign Universities should be allowed entry into India to diversify the education system and to create more opportunities.
Sustainable Industrial Growth and Social Concerns
Technical education promotes the material prosperity and economic advancement. It produces the sense of self-respect and dignity. If a country has her own technical experts, it may save a lot of foreign exchange i.e. Technical Education makes a country rich, prosperous and resourceful. Our country is rich in raw material resources but we lack in technical expertise and brain drain. We must have the ways and means to develop technical talent pool to benefit our country.
Technical education contributes substantially to the Socio Economic development of the country as a whole. The sustenance of the development of the industrial sector is entirely dependent upon the availability of trained manpower to perform the multidimensional and multifaceted activities needed to keep the wheel of industry running. Technical Education aims towards making available these trained technically qualified hands to serve the industry and society.
Technical Education plays a vital role in human resource development of the country by creating skilled manpower, enhancing industrial productivity and improving the quality of life.
Finally, we may safely comment that technical and vocational education and training alone by itself will not lead to rapid industrialization, or shall make provision of jobs or eradication of poverty. Good government policies in place may achieve all three objectives just mentioned. The rapid expansion of technical education in the post-liberalization era has opened new challenges including implementation of major reforms, fulfilling the demands for new jobs and providing further training so that ample opportunities are created on a sustainable basis.
Last Updated - 28 Dec 2016