Introduction As one who has been a Visiting Faculty Member in both Engineering and Arts and Science Colleges in many small towns of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, this author has always observed that career awareness in terms of the different careers and facilities for higher education is rather pathetic. The teachers are not bothered either. For them, the primary objective is to somehow make every student pass in the final examination and also produce University ranks from among the best students. This becomes a big selling point for the college. However, the need for more accurate career guidance and rural areas is concerned with a) starting right from school b) conducting career fairs in local languages c) using social media to educate students d) special training to teachers and e) exposing students to urban realities.
Starting right from school It is always found that those who study through the Telugu or Tamil Medium in the schools, up to the plus two school final stage, are not even aware that there are good courses in the particular professions. For instance, this author was stumped when told that the students were more interested in pursuing only the M.Com degree and not taking up the more lucrative but tougher courses like ICWAI, or ACA or the ACS. There was a rather selfish angle to the whole episode.
To cut the story short, it became clear that each teacher had to bring in at least one student to join the M.Com course in the same college. Hence, the brainwashing was done by the teachers who teach B.Com in the very first year of college. This was ridiculous. All the more so, when there were coaching classes conducted for the ICWAI course in the city of Tiruchirapalli, which was just forty kilometers away. None of the teachers would even speak about this course, because their survival depended on their selling the M.Com seat!!
There is a big need to start educating students right from the eighth standard. There are some good schools in smaller towns like Cuddalore, where this is already going on. This should be replicated all over. Not only about commerce. The student should even know that there are higher education courses in fashion design, interior design, business management, export management, hotel management, investment management and what have you. Once the student becomes aware, the next step is to get some expert or the other to explain more about such courses. This is the only way to get the students to know about courses and to avoid the trapping at the later stages in colleges, as mentioned above.
Conducting career fairs in local languagesThe CAT examination for admission to the prestigious PGDM course in the IIMs, can be taken only in either Hindi or English. It is not available in local languages. It is a pity that rural students do not know anything about this examination at all.
There is an urgent need to take the print media support and the support of the voluntary and social organizations like the Rotary club, to get the career fairs organized in local languages. This could be done all over India. No matter if the language is Hindi or Tamil or Bengali or Gujarathi or Telugu. What matters is the eighth standard student and any student in the higher classes is made aware of the new realities that exist in several cities, as far as the new courses of higher education and careers is concerned.
For example, there is this course called B.Sc ( Visual Communication) that is run by the prestigious Loyola College, Chennai. This is also run by some college in Kumbakonam, a small town near Tanjore. The only difference is the "exposure". The lucky metro souls are always exposed to the giants from the Tamil film industry, as the city of Chennai is the second largest film producing center in India. This is never the case with towns such as Kumbakonam, where the students come from farmer families and are first-generation learners. The syllabus may be the same, but the orientation is so different. Hence, the students in places like Kumbakonam also need to know the various good colleges, in Chennai, where this course can be studied.
The aforesaid course is not the same as some other course like B.Com, which is more or less common throughout the country. The students need to learn about everything only through their respective mother tongues, which is very important. Such career fairs can also be supported by the local trading houses, and they will happily support such causes.
Using social media to educate studentsThis is a huge plus. However, this is never exploited. For instance, there are hundreds of videos uploaded on Youtube, about what could happen to some horrible Tamil TV serial or the other. The number of educational videos in Tamil, on various careers is almost nil. This should change. Facebook can play a big role here. The need of the hour is to effectively harness the power of social media. A concerted effort is needed and the present efforts are totally inadequate.
Special training to teachersCareer education should become part and parcel of school education. This means that every single teacher, who teaches students after the eighth standard, is totally trained on various career choices, the success stories of professionals, the scope of each course, the latest industry developments and so on. Only then the students will be exposed to more careers and what needs to be done to pursue such careers. It is also true that the students need to be sufficiently exposed to industry professionals. The nearest towns and cities should become hub of such training and the students should be able to access all required information from any teacher.
Exposing students to urban realitiesImagine some sixty Arts and Science college students from some eight villages around Nellore visiting the offices of an IT giant such as TechMahindra in Hyderabad. They would be stumped when they see the ultra modern offices and the highly educated IT professionals who would be doing many tasks. The students could be given pep talks in the local language. This is fine. But the real motivation will start and the students might as well start thinking all that they need to do to catch up. Of course, the catching up game is not easy. It has so many dimensions to it. However, when the exposure happens, the students will become a lot more confident and will start doing something constructive in their career guidance efforts.
ConclusionThere are so many ways to get the career education better organized and useful to semi-urban area and rural area students. The aforesaid discussion is only indicative. It is not exhaustive. Some innovative ideas can and should be taken up when some initiative starts falling in place.
The time to act is now.
Good narration by the author on the subject. It is true that the colleges are giving targets to the teachers for bringing the students to their colleges. But the students, especially those in the semi-urban and rural areas, are having almost all the facilities for communication and they can also go through various information portals and learn what is happening around the world. I have made a quick survey in one of the villages in Andhra Pradesh and many of the students are aware of the developments and various courses available for their study. Many people from these areas are flying to other countries also for their higher studies and getting well settled there. So communication wise all the students irrespective the area are having the same reachability. But in the cities, the parents are more educated and working in various organizations while parents in the rural areas basically are more into agriculture and that may be making a difference. So conducting classes to parents and educating them also may be a requirement in addition to all the points raised by the author, I feel.
The author has brought out a very nice article highlighting the need for career counseling in remote and backward areas.
I think this appears to be a difficult task but through the volunteering teachers and unemployed local youths, this can be achieved to some degree. Even help of the local NGOs can be sought in this endeavor.
It is really very important to give these students the necessary exposure to career counseling. Already there is such a big competition for getting jobs and these village students are far behind from their city counterparts in this respect.
I heard that at block and village level some schemes were introduced in this regard but they soon vaporized in the procedures and red-tapism in Govt sector.