A growing population calls for increased expenditure in education: Educationist Racquel Shroff

Shroff's Indian Career Education and Development Council (IECDC) conducted a career fair at the Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Ashok Nagar to help students transition into the workforce
Students of GGHSS gave their presentations on their vision for the future of India
Students of GGHSS gave their presentations on their vision for the future of India

On March 8, 2019, as the world celebrated International Women's Day to honour women and encourage women empowerment, students of the Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Ashok Nagar, Chennai weren't far behind. Displaying their own dreams and aspirations for the future of India in the form of presentations and skits, the girls talked about what they believe will be the growth industries, their future roles as employees, entrepreneurs, innovators, and how it will contribute to society and economy. The presentations were part of an initiative by the Indian Career Education and Development Council (IECDC) to prepare young people to transition from schools to the workforce. In a conversation, Raquel Shroff, CEO of IECDC tells us more about the initiative. Excerpts:

Tell us about the programme. What sort of training does it include?

This is a technology-enabled skills development and career planning solution for high school students studying in government, aided or private schools affiliated to any Board. The objective is to progressively build the knowledge, skills, values, attitudes and attributes to help them thrive in the future world of work.

The programme consists of a 15-module curriculum (real-world classroom activities, delivered through an exciting project-based learning methodology and positive psychology pedagogy), a student portal which has a number of career assessments, a knowledge base of occupations linked to school subjects and growth industries, goal setting and planning tools, training and mentoring of teachers involved in programme delivery. 

How many schools have you reached so far?

This pilot project for Class IX of GGHSS Ashok Nagar commenced this academic year and culminated in the end-of-year project to showcase their learning outcomes. We are also working with class X students in 51 government high schools in Kancheepuram districts to help them create career plans using a digital tool, mykensho Simulate. 

All set to conquer: Michelle Wade, Commissioner - South Asia at Global Victoria, State Government of Victoria, Australia with one of the students

How important do you think the role of NGOs and private organisations are in building the quality of education in government schools?

Enhancing the employability of youth and improving the educational outcomes of students is a shared responsibility and must start at the adolescent age in school. Government, industry, academia and NGOs can collaborate effectively by leveraging each other's strengths and structure. 

What is the biggest challenge in government schools? Is it the funding or the sheer scale of the population?

Challenges include a lack of optimum technology infrastructure and adequate teachers proportionate to students enrolled. Growing population calls for increased spend in education and collaborative partnerships to provide high-quality education. Students also need access to reliable data (about oneself, the labour market of the future, current job trends) to become aware of their potential, the world of work and know-how to plan a career in an environment which is constantly changing. 

How important is the English language in helping students get employed?

English language competency is essential to enhance the employability of students in a globalised world. With an increase in foreign investment and trade and a globally mobile and high aspiring Indian diaspora, young people proficient in English, Tamil and a foreign language will definitely gain a competitive advantage. 

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