x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Bid to broaden career horizons for pupils

New subjects give students career options beyond traditionally pursued "doctor" and "engineer" roles.

DUBAI //Indian curriculum schools will soon offer high school students media, logistics and sports studies as part of a drive to provide career options beyond the popular medical and engineering fields.

Last year, in India, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) added programmes in mass media and geospatial information science practices - courses about space and how geographic location information is generated and communicated through technology - as options for Grade 11 and Grade 12 students.

The programmes will soon be offered at schools in the Middle East, according to Vineet Joshi, chairman of the CBSE. "We want to provide more options to students so that they can pursue their interests," he said.

The chairman was speaking yesterday at a seminar attended by 400 teachers from the CBSE-i (international) schools held at the Indian High School (IHS) in Dubai.

The former president of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was also in attendance.

Dr Kalam told CBSE-i school teachers that students needed to be prepared with world-class vocational skills to contribute effectively to the country's development. "Once they graduate they should be employment generators, not employment seekers," he said.

"For this, there needs to be a paradigm shift and while designing the syllabus, teachers need to ensure that 25 per cent of the class time should be reserved for teaching employable skill sets."

That viewpoint has underpinned reforms to the Indian education system, spearheaded by the human resource development minister, Kapil Sibal.

A new CBSE-i curriculum was launched as a pilot project in 30 schools outside India last year. It focuses on continuous evaluation and imparting life skills as opposed to learning by rote, textbook memorisation and an exam-heavy marking approach.

The CBSE-i curriculum was initially rolled out in Grades 1 and 9, and will be adopted in Grade 2, 6 and 10 this year. By next year, all grades in the selected schools - based in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan - will follow the curriculum.

More courses in sports, design and medicine are also in the pipeline, said Mr Joshi. "The response to these programmes has been very encouraging," he said. "We started with 20 schools and now have more than 65 schools who want to offer them from this year."

Educators said the vocational stream being offered by the board was driven by a changing mindset among parents and students, who once considered medicine and engineering to be the only respectable career options.

Ashok Kumar, the chief executive of IHS, said: "Science-related professionals are not the only ones in demand any more."

At the start of the next academic year, in April 2012, IHS plans to offer mass media programmes to senior schools students.

Thulasi Ajit, a mathematics teacher at The Millennium School in Dubai said there had been greater interest in humanities and art-related subjects. "The trend is changing and there is less pressure from the parents to take up certain fields now," she said.

"Also, our career counsellor works with the parents to raise their awareness about other possible professions which are equally rewarding."

aahmed@thenational.ae