Trainees feel some VTI courses are too long

VTI: If not many youth are taking up vocational trades willingly, the duration of some courses is discouraging school dropouts from taking up vocational trainings.

Courses in lhadri (painting) and trezo (ornament making) take six years to complete, which students like Kelzang Penjor thinks is too much. The Class X dropout feels it is an exhausting experience. Kelzang Penjor joined the Trashiyangtse Institute for Zorig Chusum (TIZC), to become a painter after he failed in his tenth grade.

“Six years is too long. Most vocational courses don’t take so long,” the 23-year-old said. “Most of the students can learn the required painting skills in about four years.”

As a way forward, the Department of Occupational Standards (DOS) with the labor ministry is looking to start more competence-based courses from the next academic year rather than sticking to the existing duration based courses.

Coming up with standard curriculums would mean only the required trainings would be provided and irrelevant subjects left out.

Chief Program Officer of DOS, Karma Loday, said trainees in TTIs would be subjected to competency-based trainings that would be categorized into two levels.

“But we have to first establish the standards of the courses in consultation with field experts. Workshops would be held to identify the competencies,” he said. “Then, a precise curriculum would be framed, which is expected to shorten duration of courses like Lhadri,” he said.

On the other hand, the Principal of TIZC Thinley Wangchuk thinks reduction in course duration could impact the quality of the graduates.

“The number of practices would go down when the courses are shortened. It could affect students since they have different learning capacities. Some are slow learners,” he said. “But after six years, students graduate as master artisans.”

However, the principal added that chances are that some course durations might be prolonged after the standard curriculum comes out.

“Institutes are feeding necessary information to the DOS for the standard curriculum. Since most of our skills are already competency based, duration might either reduce or prolong,” he said.

Meanwhile, the principal of Rangjung Technical Training Institute, Yeshey Wangdi, said that the duration of courses has steadily been shortened over the years.

“More than two decades back, the duration of lhadri used to be 12 years. It was halved to six years,” he said.

Some students feel that jobs are not guaranteed after spending many years in the institutes. “Then it is a real waste of time. We have friends who are still unemployed or work in areas not at all relevant to the course they did here,” said a student requesting anonymity.

Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang