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85% of Indian schools yet to implement vocational courses: WEF report

Even as the Covid-19 pandemic has eased in most parts of the world, India’s school-to-work transition process still faces significant hurdles, a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) said on Friday.

A KPMG study found that India is the second largest market for online education after the US. With conducive government policies and initiatives such as the National Education Policy 2020 and more than 5,000 EdTech startups across the learning lifecycle, today’s educational environment is powerful for digital transformation. But a lack of concerted efforts has resulted in an isolated skills ecosystem that has failed to reach its maximum potential, the WEF report said.

Titled Education 4.0 Report, the report explains how technology can address learning gaps and make education accessible to all. The information is published under the Education 4.0 India initiative, launched in May 2020 and has gathered more than 40 partners from education technology, government, academia and start-up communities.

India has more than 60 million secondary and upper secondary students, according to the report, but 85 percent of schools have yet to implement vocational courses as part of their curricula.

School-to-work transition (S2W) refers to preparing students for work in a rapidly evolving employment landscape.

It added that the S2W transition process continues to face major hurdles such as lack of trainers, inadequate resources and infrastructure, poor integration with the mainstream school curriculum, and poor linkages between local skills gaps and vocational courses.

The report noted that many students and parents view vocational education as the second best option after mainstream education.

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“Employers expect students to have a high degree of competencies, skills and knowledge relevant to their job. They also prefer strong communication skills, teamwork and problem-solving and critical thinking skills,” it said.

According to the report, school pedagogy is currently designed without reference to industry needs as there are no formal channels for industry participation.

“In addition, credits cannot be transferred between formal and informal education streams, so students who want to pursue higher education after vocational training (or vice versa) have difficulty linking their credits. This discourages mobility between the two streams,” it said.

By increasing career awareness and exposure opportunities through internships and apprenticeships, credits can be transferred to enable students to move between formal and informal channels of education and training and provide experiential learning for holistic development through STEM based courses, language learning and life skills coaching are among the recommendations in the report.

The 2021 National Achievement Survey (NAS) reported an average learning level of 59 percent in grade 3, 49 percent in grade 5, 42 percent in grade 8, and 36 percent in grade 10.

The report is the Result of a collaboration between the WEF, the United Nations Children’s Education Fund and YuWaah (Generation Unlimited India).

It follows the progress and findings of the Education 4.0 India initiative, which focuses on how the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution can improve learning and reduce inequalities in access to education for children in India.

The report also examines challenges and identifies solutions that can be realized as scalable interventions to empower Indian youth to participate in the evolving workspace.

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The report identifies gaps in fundamental literacy and numeracy, teacher professional development, school-to-work transition and connecting disconnected, and proposes solutions with five standard building blocks for curriculum, content, capacity, community and digital infrastructure.



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