Test Prep

With the competitive and entrance examinations becoming the norm for better career prospects, test preparation industry is set to occupy the learning space in India. However, India is not an exception as far as the evolution of test preparation market is concerned. The global learning market is expected to cross $100 bn this year. With half of its population below 25, India has a relatively larger mass for this sort of a market. Abysmal state of affairs in the Indian education system only aids the need for organized test preparation industry. There are varied nuances to the rise of test preparation industry in India which require a deep and thorough ‘examination’ in order to fully grasp the nature of its evolution and where it is headed. For a variety of reasons, test preparation industry is likely to grow fast. Job seekers in India conventionally sought degrees in their pursuit of jobs in the prime public and private sectors. This phenomenon was subtly and yet significantly affected when the system of competitive and entrance examinations was introduced. In the past, the system operated on rote learning as the entry to higher studies depended on grades. There was a paradigm shift when the system made a transition to entrance examinations. Similarly, a particular degree was sufficient for a set of jobs which also saw a sea change when competitive exams were brought into the equation. A system of free and fair competition was ushered in, based on in-depth subject knowledge and its application. However, the conventional education system was not in sync with this metamorphosis and continued its outmoded ways. It is also a well known fact that Indian education system is characterized by fewer classrooms and teachers, paucity of learning resources and ineffective modes of learning. This sudden turnaround has taken the education system by surprise in the last decade or so.

E LEARNING

The perspective of ELearning in Education is changing from a “frills” mode to a “utility” mode today.In the sense it is becoming an essential mode of engaging students in learning. ELearning was for a long time regarded as an import from the western world and has been associated more with just online education. Increasingly, traditional teaching is evolving into a blended mode of teaching with several technology tools configured to support face to face teaching. It has always been said that it is impossible to replace a good teacher. This is still true. However, the concept of a good teacher is also changing fast to include competencies blending good teaching with use of appropriate tools, especially, digital or ICT. A good teacher is becoming more aware of the need to create a good learning “ecosystem” using multiple modes of communication and pedagogical representations. In India, the ever widening gap between industry and academics is a challenge not easily overcome by the traditional teaching models. With the busy life style of industry practitioners and the tight schedules of academic delivery, any amount of industry interventions seem to be ineffective in getting the students up-to-date on industry relevant skills.

 

Elearning today has become manifested in multiple forms and formats. LMS, Social Media, Live Virtual Classrooms, Mobile Apps and MOOC based course platforms are ubiquitous.

 

Live Virtual Class Rooms: There are many LVCs on offer today for industry practitioners to offer structured inputs or run classes to a large number of students irrespective of physical location. Webex, Google meet, Skype, zoom, Live Stream are some of the popular LVCs which could be used free or at cost for conducting classes or training sessions.

 

LMS: The use of a formal Learning Management System is just one in such a configuration. The problem is there is no one strict definition for an LMS. An LMS may have features ranging from a typical content repository to an all inclusive authoring, teaching, virtual class rooms included systems. The effective use of LMS may offer a solution to bring in more industry interactions through virtual participation from industry practitioners more frequently.

Skilling Youth

Indian government launched several initiatives supporting new government policy under "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas" slogan that aims at shaping and developing India’s human resources and helping our country to take advantage of demographic profile.

 

National Policy on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 drafted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government replaced 2009 policy formulated by the Ministry of Labour and Employment during UPA II government. A set of initiative, including National Skill Development Mission, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana scheme (PMKVY) and the Skill Loan scheme were launched by the government in support of the Policy which aims at skilling more than 40 crore people by 2022. Interestingly, the 2009 version targeted 50 crore people.

 

If go by the policy document, the task of massive skilling of Indian workforce by providing training and certification is divided between twenty various ministries and departments and external agencies.The policy emphasizes the need of public-private partnerships in order to achieve the ambitious goal. However, the skilling project ended up in mushrooming training schemes that are not coordinated and do not often have any connection with each other or with the center. 

 

What is important here is that the businesses that are generally more flexible and aspiring than the government instead of jumping on the governments’ skilling bandwagon started their own training programs to create workforce skilled for their specific needs. This created certain disproportions in skill generation: while certain industries are growing and thus require more of skilled people, other industries are lagging behind or going through a crisis for various macroeconomic reasons.

 

The government stand on skill development articulated in The National Policy on Skill Development, whether old or new, declares skill development a top priority and needs to be synchronized with ambitious “Make in India” program. There is no doubt education (at first place!) and skilling are important for the people to benefits from country’s economic growth.

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