Kochi: More than 800 youth between 18-35 years of age from marginalised and remote communities in Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand have been trained by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham under the Central Government’s Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), the flagship scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship implemented by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
As part of giving skills training to youth, the varsity has also trained over 3,500 school students from Class VI to XI in 26 schools in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, with another 1,000 children in 20 schools to be trained this year under its “Future skills: Skills for Schools” programme launched in 2016. Both these projects are being spearheaded by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s AMMACHI Labs which is working to empower Indian youth through vocational education.
Said Prema Pillai, Operational Lead for PMKVY – Special Projects, AMMACHI Labs: “Youth and school students in rural and remote villages suffer from marginalization, lack of resources, low levels of education and poor career prospects. If they migrate to cities, they get only unskilled jobs and are put under casual contracts, much to their disadvantage. Lack of certification from training institutes reduces their capacity to negotiate salaries. Rural schools are crippled by a lack of financial resources, antiquated technology infrastructure and inadequately trained teachers to impart technology education. With industry-relevant skills and vocational training taught by Amrita, rural youth are at an advantage economically and socially, helping them secure better livelihoods. Future skills training through constructionist STEM interventions opens up new pathways for children and youth, building up their resilience for an unpredictable future.”
The Amrita PMKVY programme, operational since November 2018, established 9 PMKVY training centres spanning six aspirational districts across five States — Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It offers short-term courses in the following areas: Plumbing General, Automotive Service Technician (two and three-wheeler repair), Self-Employed Tailor, General Duty Assistant and Domestic Data Entry Operator (DDEO). All these vocational courses offered at Amrita’s PMKVY centres are aligned with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship’s prescribed National Occupational Standards (NOS) and delivered through a blended learning, ICT-integrated format called “Amrita Computerized Vocational Education and Training” (Amrita CVET). The Amrita CVET delivery model, first developed by Amrita in 2010, is now being used to provide vocational training to over 5,000 people in rural India.
Added Prema Pillai: “Amrita-PMKVY has enabled socially marginalized and economically disadvantaged youth to access skill development free of cost. Our trainees have gained the technical skills needed to earn a living. They have got jobs with several industries and micro-enterprises. Many have started their own business. Out of all the students trained by us, we are proud to say that more than half are women.”
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s “Skills in Schools” programme is covering rural schools in Idduki, Kannur and Kollam districts of Kerala and Guntur and Krishna districts of Andhra Pradesh to introduce students to computational thinking, robotics and maker-skills through STEM workshops.
Said Gayathri Manikutty, STEM Innovation Research Lead with Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham: “The Skills in Schools programme is delivered to students through workshops lasting from four to ten 10 days on topics like computational thinking, robotics and maker-skills. Year-long programmes are also conducted in vocational training using the MySangham platform which has now been merged with NSDC’s eSkill India Portal. To date, we have conducted more than 100 workshops, developed over 25 curriculums, trained 200 teachers and over 3,500 students in 26 schools. Each year, about 800 to 1,000 school students get trained through this program. In 2021, despite the pandemic, we will be reaching out to over 1,000 children in 20 schools through teacher training programmes.”
“Most of the students taught are from low-income families. They have gone on to win top prizes in international competitions in robotics such as the World Robotics Olympiad, and Robocup, as well in national and international competitions such as ATL Tinkering Marathon, UNESCO Water Wise Program for School Children, International Space Olympiad, etc. Students have written and presented research papers at international conferences including the Fablearn Asia 2020 conference held in Thailand and Global Humanitarian Technology Conference held in the USA. They have also filed for US and Indian patents,” Gayathri added.