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April 25, 2018

Government course tailored for visually impaired students fails to teach practicals

Bhopal : Self-sufficiency was nothing short of a dream for Suresh Yadav, a visually impaired resident of Vidisha, until he was informed about a special skill development programme tailored for people like him.

Yadav was told that enrolling in the Computer Operator and Programming Assistance (COPA) trade course at the Industrial Training Institute-Bhopal would provide him with all the skills required to turn his life around. An optimistic Yadav made a two-hour-long trip to Bhopal and joined the COPA trade course. He assured his family that when he returns, it will be as an expert in cyber technology.

However, it didn’t take long for Yadav’s dreams to come crashing down.

Yadav did not even touch a computer in the eight months that followed. When the authorities finally arranged for a customised desktop, he could not learn anything in the absence of a qualified teacher. They awarded him with a degree in State Council on Vocational Training (SCVT) last year, but it remains a meaningless document in the absence of any practical knowledge on the subject.

Like Yadav, there are over 200 visually challenged students who joined industrial training institutes (ITIs) to secure their future but ended up feeling shortchanged. They now possess degrees in SCVT as well as NCVT (short for National Council on Vocational Training), but it amounts to nothing in the absence of any practical knowledge on the subject.

In 2016, the Madhya Pradesh Social Justice department introduced the COPA trade course in four different ITIs across the state – Bhopal, Ujjain, Jabalpur and Rewa – to ensure skill development of youngsters. However, in the absence of proper infrastructure and trained teachers, the students learn precious little during their time there – remaining unqualified for a job.

Premlata Rahangle, head of COPA trade at ITI Bhopal, admitted that the course was introduced in circumstances nonconducive for any meaningful training. “We did not even have computers with screen-reader software such as JAWS and NVDA. So, we only imparted theoretical knowledge to the students to help them clear the exam,” Rahangle said.

The students, quite understandably, feel cheated. “The department mocked our condition by teaching us theory. Even the teachers here weren’t qualified to train us,” said Shyam Vishwakarma, a 32-year-old student at IIT-Rewa.

The teachers blame the administration for the sad state of affairs. “The infrastructure has improved but software glitches remain. The syllabus also needs to be changed. When we brought this to the authorities’ notice, they asked us to continue teaching theory,” said Reena Gupta Mathur, a training officer.

The officials concerned are busy passing the buck to each other.

“We are trying to fix things at our end, but the onus lies the social justice department (which runs the course),” said state skill development department director Sanjeev Singh. Social justice department principal secretary Ashok Shah, for his part, accused the skill development department of not appointing qualified teachers.

Note: News shared for public awareness with reference from the information provided at online news portals.

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