Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Commentary – National Skill Development Agency, now and ahead

Our educational institutes can be blamed for a variety of crimes, but no one can blame them for providing knowledge, and providing skills would be beyond thoughts.

The so-called top-tier institutes are beyond the reach of most students, and are immune to criticism or audit. For example, should IITs offer post-graduation in management? Sure, why not? Who is going to ‘audit’ and say that IITs are supposed to focus on the ‘technical’ side, hence the word ‘Technology’? Should IITs have humanities and social sciences department? Same answer, same logic. So, let’s leave these self-proclaimed ultra-super-upper class people, who anyway care two hoots about anybody.

But the other (so called tier-2 institutes and below) are struggling so hard on the input and output front that they don’t have enough energy or inclination to focus on imparting knowledge. The students depend on private coaching classes and luck to get a meaningful job.

The government of India, in a bid to find a solution, founded National Skill Development Agency. No, it was not Modi’s initiative, but that of Manmohan Singh, about a year before he demitted office. And in a refreshingly welcome change, the Agency is led by S. Ramadorai, former TCS head.

Ramadorai’s interview is worth reading, because it offers insights into how the NSDA visualizes the problem and what kind of solutions it offers. Towards the end, the interview fabulously goes off track by talking about the aviation policy, but fortunately the interviewers sober up pretty soon and come back to points.

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