Liberalization of the Indian economy, its gradual integration with the world economy and rapid transformation into a knowledge-based society are increasing the demand for a well-trained workforce that is not only literate and has mastered specific skills, but is also able to acquire new skills and knowledge independently. In the early 1990s, India faced a shortage of well trained technicians in new and emerging technologies. Most polytechnics offered outdated courses in traditional areas. The drop-out rate was 10-15 percent and the employment rate less than 40 percent. Women were being left out as most of the polytechnics were for “boys” only.
- To meet the demands of the changing labor market, IDA supported India’s long term program of reforms in the middle level technical education system dealing with training of technicians/ supervisors.
- The program focused on expanding capacity, improving quality, and increasing efficiency and responsiveness of polytechnics.
- The policy reforms included:
• increased participation of women, tribal communities, handicapped, rural youth and other disadvantaged groups in technician education though formal and non-formal education and training;
• closer interaction with industry and community; and
• greater institutional autonomy and program flexibility.
- The centrally guided, state sector projects covered 528 public polytechnics in 18 states and union territories during 1990s.
- The third and final project closing on June 30, 2007 covers 12 existing and 9 new polytechnics in six geographically remote and economically underdeveloped states of the northeastern region, Jammu & Kashmir, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
Increase in the number of well-trained technicians in India and in women’s access to both technical education and good jobs. For example: some 25,000 technicians per year since 1998 trained in over 200 new and high technology areas.
- Availability of about 25,000 technicians per year since 1998 trained in over 200 new and high technology areas of relevance to industry and service sector; most of whom are getting employed with high wages in India and abroad.
- Availability of much better trained technicians in conventional disciplines – 70 percent finding quick employment or self employment, and 10- 15 percent going for higher studies.
- Increase in women’s participation in technician education and professional work force rising from 11 percent pre-project to over 30 percnet during 1990-98 due to major policy support; six states (Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tamil Nadu, and Tripura) having women participation at 40-55 percent; most polytechnics made co-educational.
- Increase in participation of schedule cast and schedule tribe students (to 25 -95 percent in different states) and rural youth (to 55-60 percent).
- Knowledge and technology transfer to rural areas through community programs/ continuing education/ distance learning; and over 60,000 rural youth trained per year.
- Creation of two resource institutions for technician institutions for handicapped in 1990s; policy support for their participation in the main stream programs.
- Significant cooperation and learning amongst institutions and states across India; institutional capacity for electronic networking and web-based information sharing.
- Closer interaction with industry in critical areas both within and outside states.
- Increased efficiency through program flexibility, institutional autonomy and internal resource generation; drop-out rate reduced to 4 percent; 85 percent of students complete their program within specified duration of three years.
- The total investment in the three projects has been about USD 700 million with IDA funding of about USD 530 million. The rest was contributed by the states and the Government of India.
- IDA support played a catalytic role in expediting implementation of a National Policy of Education reforms.
- In particular, IDA promoted introduction of new relevant programs, and increased women’s participation by supporting the establishment of 33 women’s polytechnics, hostel facilities for women, and appointment of women faculty.
- The intensive reviews every six months acted as technical assistance missions – helping with review of design of all new institutions and programs, implementation of reforms, and tracer studies.
A new long term program of major institutional reforms at degree level institutions for engineering education has begun.