Technical Education & Vocational Training

Major overhaul needed for PhDs that don’t come from schools

 

By Jamil Khan | KARACHI

KARACHI’s 16 monotechnic and polytechnic institutes need to switch to short-term certificates and advanced courses instead of relying on students to make a longer commitment, such as one for a three-year associate engineer diploma course.

Technical education and vocational training experts have suggested major changes to make the institutes more relevant for students who need the technical education to get employment or start their own businesses.

According to Engineer Anwarul Haq Siddiqui, who is a member of the Sindh Board of Technical Education (SBTE), the condition of the city’s institutes is so bad that they don’t have proper labs or workshops to teach students. As a result there is low enrolment. They are also short on qualified teachers, must replace out-dated books and increase visits to industries for the students.

Right now, the SBTE offers diplomas in 30 disciplines from auto and diesel work to graphic art, refrigeration and air-conditioning to textile spinning and telecommunication.

Part of the problem is that most of the institutes were set up in the early 1960s. And even though their labs were fully equipped with complete accessories, operating instructional guides, charts and drawings, all that is outdated now. Nonetheless, a little over half of them are still working.

Because of a shortage of proper trainers, the high-tech lab equipment supplied in the 1980s and 1990s is still unpacked. Problems arose when either the instruction manuals were missing or the equipment was not installed by the supplier. Some don’t have the proper accessories and for others, the teachers were simply not trained.

The principal of Government Jamia Millia Polytechnic Institute Dr Masroor Ahmed Sheikh, who has also served as a chairman of the Sindh Board of Technical Education, told Daily Times that he had proposed a technical university for each of the provinces. They would have offered B.Tech., M.Tech. and even PhD programmes to polytechnic diploma holders. He also recommended for the National Education Policy for Technical Education and Vocational Training teacher training centers under the umbrella of the National Institute of Science and Technical Education, Islamabad or the province’s board of Technical Education.

“All developed countries have given importance to technical education and vocational training,” he said. “And they make this a major part (40-50 percent) of their education. Now, the time has come for us to come up with policies so that it is not just the government’s responsibility to provide jobs, but for people to be self employed.” For that, young people need to be provided with the skills and micro financing.

Despite these challenges, students who do qualify can go on to become quite successful. The head of Jamia Millia’s bio-medical department, Engineer Rana Nadir, told Daily Times that there were more jobs in this field for diploma holders than any other because of the growing number of private hospitals, clinics and laboratories. He teaches students how to operate and maintain all equipment needed for such services. “Medical equipment are the eyes of a doctor,” he explained. “And we are producing experts for medical equipment who are becoming helping hands across the city.”

Each year up to 300 students graduate from Jamia Millia in bio-medical and four other disciplines. Kashan Asghar earned his diploma in associate engineering in electronics in 2005 and became a hot candidate for the limited job opportunities offered by a multi-national firm located in Landhi industrial area. “I was one of the good students in my batch and my hard work paid off,” he told Daily Times on the telephone. He said now he made a “handsome” salary but he declined to say how much.

Jamia Millia was set up for vocational training in electrical, mechanical and civil trades in 1962 and was upgraded in 1982 to a polytechnic institute in civil and electronics technologies. Bio-medical and instrumentation and process control technologies were added with financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank and the diploma of associate engineer on a self-help basis was introduced in 1984.

It is one of the oldest polytechnic institutes in the city but needs, just like the others, a much-needed shot in the arm with funding, resources and technology.

Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah announced for his budget for 2008-2009 that Sindh has a chronic unemployment problem. They provincial government has already launched the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Programme to train more than 0.1 million young people in 2 years.

Programmes 61,000 more young people are also being planned according to which more than 40,000 Matriculates and below will be trained in construction, and industrial skills for 3 to 12 months and then linked to the job market. Approximately 3,800 youth will be trained as paramedics and midwives and 4,000 in IT.

-Published in Daily Times | Sept 08, 2008

~ by jamilkhan on September 11, 2008.

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