The stance among school principals on the incorporation of vocational education into the formal education system remains a point of contention. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 underscores the importance of early exposure to vocational education, with a phased integration plan into secondary schools over the next decade. Advocates for this integration, such as Vishnu Karthik, co-founder of Heritage International Xperiential School in Gurugram, argue for adopting models from advanced industrialized societies like Singapore and Germany, where vocational education, ITI, or diploma programs are considered viable pathways for meaningful careers.
Karthik emphasizes that a historical oversight in India was the lack of serious consideration for vocational education. He suggests adopting the approach prevalent in advanced societies to grant vocational education more significance. He points out the imbalance in the traditional education system, which tends to be too theoretical and fails to equip students with practical skills. For instance, engineers often lack exposure to practical challenges due to this imbalance.
On the other hand, Meenakshi Bhakuni, principal of GD Goenka Public School, Vasant Kunj, holds a contrasting view. She believes that formalizing vocational education could potentially damage the existing system in India. Bhakuni argues that the apprenticeship model, which has thrived for thousands of years in India, particularly in vocations such as electricians, mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, masons, blacksmiths, and shoemakers, does not need to be assimilated into the formal education system. Instead, she suggests strengthening existing apprenticeship models.
The debate extends to concerns raised by a principal of another top school in Delhi, who prefers to remain anonymous. While acknowledging the need to move away from rote learning, she expresses skepticism about the seamless integration of vocational and formal education in the Indian context. She contends that such integration may work well in foreign countries but may face challenges if replicated exactly in India.
In summary, the divergence in perspectives among school principals underscores the complexities and varying opinions surrounding the integration of vocational education into the formal education system in India.
Also read: Stimulate Vocational Education