Vocational skills – Bridging the gap between education and employment

Vocational skills lays emphasis on knowledge, skills and attitudes that help students handle practical challenges and work situations. Everyone speaks today about 21st century skills required to be successful in the fast changing work place. What are these 21st century skills?  These include communication skills, digital skills to use smart phones and conduct ecommerce transactions as well as financial literacy and entrepreneurship to handle the gig jobs in the new economy.

Our electrical trade students are studying repair of home appliances like mixie, air conditioners, water purifiers, microwaves and fans. During the course of the training they are getting hands on experience on these appliances. Some students have repaired the wiring in their schools. Some have done in their homes. Many students have started earning money whilst still in school. Others are becoming role models in their villages and school. The emphasis on learning a skill gives students a tremendous boost to their confidence to face the real world challenges and earn their livelihood.

This newsletter chronicles our collective  work. For us, these stories reflect not just the fascinating work being done by our students and teachers, but also an understanding of how the skills the students are learning, is bridging the gap between education and employability, and preparing them, for success in their life ahead. 

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My name is Falak Fairoz and I am a class x student of HS QAZIPORA. I never wanted to join a Govt school after passing my class VIII examination but my baba was firm in his decision to enroll me in the present institute for my 9th and 10th class studies. I always had this bad image of govt schools in my mind but fortunate enough it was to get enrolled in such an institution that altogether changed my mindset.

After joining the school, a very energetic, enthusiastic and seemingly intelligent teacher came to our class and introduced herself as a VOCATIONAL TRAINER and I really didn’t even understood the syllables of what she introduced herself as but within seconds she knew that what I and others were thinking in our minds. She made us understand what the word VOCATION means and what she is there for in the school. We had a very good first impression of her and she continued to attend one of our classes for days. A batch of almost 28 was ready to join her classes and to become skilled.

So there my story begins as I was slowly not only getting skilled in the trade of electronics and hardware but my perspective of seeing things changed a lot. I began to apply the things that I learned in the class to every electronic gadget at my home as my Baba works as an electronic technician. He runs a shop locally and earns our living. Whatever I used to learn in the class I used to share it with my Baba, who hardly knew how a particular component works but is a master in repairing electronic appliances.

I unknowingly began to devote extra time to this skillful subject by helping my Baba at his workplace. I remember the day when I explained my Baba how to troubleshoot a faulty appliance. He was amazed when I told him the correct method of troubleshooting and how to locate a fault more quickly. I am helping him in improving his skills and our beloved mam ( Miss Tehleela Navid) is helping us both. My Baba visited my school to see the teacher who is making teaching fun and way too easy and more than that he understood that she is transforming us into skilled students.

My vocational trainer even asked my Baba to provide a guest lecture on the repairing of a mixer juicer grinder and that made me realize that skill never goes to waste and more than that skill needs certification which my Baba didn’t have unfortunately.

I would like to thank the government who has made such initiatives of transforming India into skilled India. I want to become an electronics engineer and my vocational trainer Miss Tehleela Navid will be my inspiration and also a role model in achieving my goal.

01 July 2020, the date I joined HS Gariend Khurd Budgam as a Vocational Trainer. Before me, another VT Was posted in the school who left the job and I got a chance to transfer from Doda to Budgam. The time was of covid restrictions and schools were closed. I somehow managed to travel from my home district Anantnag to Budgam and joined the school. I was added to the WhatsApp group of the school and was given a time table to deliver online classes. When I started to teach the students online, only a few showed interest. Javid was one of them. 

Javid was a Class 9 student of HS Gariend Khurd.. He was what they called an ‘EWS child’ or an ‘economically weaker student’. In initial interactions I got to know him closely. He said he wanted to join a private good to get a better education but due to the economic crisis in the family, he only managed to get admission in a Govt run school. Some schools work hard to make sure these students feel included and involved in the life of the school, while others just pay lip service to the idea of inclusive education. HS Gariend, thankfully, is a school that falls in the former category. 

I noticed that he was a very keen student and had a flair for learning new things. He used to eagerly wait for my class. He was the only student in the batch who joined classes regularly. I lent him a helping hand and told him that I am more like an elder brother than being a teacher to him. He started to take greater interests in Electronics and Hardware. He used to call me for clearing concepts even in the general subjects. I developed a special kind of bond with Javid. There were two reasons for that. One was his economic backwardness and the other was his extraordinary intelligence. 

I taught him every concept and practical of Electronics and Hardware online and he excelled at the same. He aspired to go with a Bachelor of Vocational Education in Electronics and Hardware but the colleges here don’t offer the course. He now wants to go for a Master of Technology in Electronics and Communication. 2020 and 2021 sessions were difficult because of covid 19. Despite that, Javid passed class 10 with flying colors securing 475/500 marks, topped the school and was the topper in Electronics and Hardware.  I am still in touch with him and always guide him through thick and thin of life and studies. I wish Javid all the best for future endeavors.

Poshker is a hilly village located in Budgam district of UT of J&K. It is located at a terrain drive of 40 km  from District Headquarters. It is a very backward village where you only get a few buses to travel to the district headquarters in a day and that too via transships.  

Anzar was a Class 9 student of HS Poshker. He belonged to a middle class family. His father was a school  teacher by profession and thus he had the flair for studies in genes. He was a very brilliant student with  a thirst for studies. He wanted to fly high out of the village and wanted to excel in the field of education. 

That day, when I was registering the students for the vocational course in class IX, he came to me with  hope in his eyes and told me that he wanted to study electronics for a better future. The enthusiasm  was infectious.

He was  a very keen student and has a flair for creativity. He was always ready to learn new  things. I taught him every concept and practical of Electronics and Hardware online. He wanted to  become an electronics engineer because he had a special liking for electrical and electronic  circuits. He always came up with new ideas and concepts. His concepts were even submitted for the  Inspire Manak awards. Inspire Manak is a Govt of India initiative to polish raw ideas of school going  children and make them a reality. Anzar passed class 10 with 489/500 marks and was  the topper in Electronics and Hardware.  I still help him out whenever needed. Good wishes to the genius!!!

It was the year 2019-2020 year, when students were admitted in my Electronics and Hardware class. Firstly students were very excited about this new subject. When I told them about the registration, they brought their parents when I restricted certain students not to get admitted. They find this trade interesting; they start learning with full interest. After that the other batches found it very interesting and began to take part in every field. In this batch, there was a student, Mohammad Imran who is a disabled student by vision, in spite of that he showed so much interest in ICT, electronic tools and wants to know more about projects.

In 2020-2021 year, due to space constraints I was told to take Vocational students in only one section, but the other section made a hue and cry in school, and submitted applications to HOI requesting vocational class for them also. Hafiz Ahmed from this batch has made and shared several videos. Another student  Mubashira was selected in INSPIRE on district level for doing a project on drones.

I am very happy to share that girl students are coming forward to learn about electronics. They come up with kettles, iron, blowers, phones for repair and want to repair things themselves, they told me when our mam is doing this work, so why not we. My best wishes to all of my students.

I am extremely delighted to share the achievements  of my  student  Hilal Ahmad Shah, a brilliant technophile, disciplined and determined student who has done wonders in class activities. He is technically very sound in resolving issues in home appliances with medium to advanced level PCB repairing. He has also opened his Youtube Chanel “HB TECHS” where he showcases his technical skills by uploading innovative videos on technology and repairing work. Interestingly Hilal Ahmad has worked on a lot of mini projects like Flood Alert Model, ATM Machine prototype, Obstacle Avoiding Robot and various others. He got first position in district Ganderbal after submitting his project “Flood Alert Model” for Inspire awards. 

In his words “ I want to clear the JEE entrance examination to get admission in top IIT’S  so that I would be a more successful professional to serve the country in the Electronics field”. I am hopeful that many more students like him will pass out of this school in Electronics and Hardware trade .

One of the students,  Irfan Ahmad, whose father is running an electronics  repairing shop, told me that after reading the electronic components, symbols in this vocational subject, he makes his father’s work more easy by drawing the circuits. He is helping his father in his shop. He said if he didn’t get any govt. job, he will continue to run his own electronics business .

He wants to expand his father’s business in a more technological way. Luckily the same batch shined In board exams with flying marks in electronics and Alhamdulillah we got 100% result.

All of the students of electronic and hardware class enjoy this subject very much, they find it very interesting because it deals with knowledge that they can implement in their daily life.

Subam Sharma, one of the students of level 3 is very much interested in this subject. His father runs an electronics shop and now he helps his father in his business. He wants to expand his father’s business; he also voluntarily takes part in every practical work in school. Recently our school ordered 5 new fans for new classrooms, and all the fans are installed by the students of level 3 and level 4 . They are very happy and feel confident after performing this practical.

Recently one class room wiring got burnt due to a short circuit. My principal wanted to call an electrician . But I assured him that I can find the fault and rectify it.

Then I took 2 students with me and made the room operational again within 2 hours. Our principal is very much happy with our work. Finally, I want to share that all the students are very happy and very interested in electronic and hardware subjects. They suggest their younger brothers and sisters take this subject as a vocational subject in class 9. I wish them all the best for their bright future.