New Delhi: The Union government is reviewing the possibility of reverting to the no-fail policy for the skills sector, even as it is withdrawing a similar provision in schools by amending the Right To Education (RTE) Act.

Skills development and entrepreneurship minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Wednesday that he is not in favour of detaining any students at the 14,000 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs). The ITI system caters to around 2 million students, who form a significant portion of the trained manpower employed by Indian industries.

“We were reviewing the system on Tuesday. My suggestion was that nobody should fail. Yes, somebody can get Grade A or Grade E but no one should fail. It demotivates people," Pradhan said at a conference of his ministry in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The no-fail policy has been a topic of debate in India after the implementation of the RTE Act in 2010. Several committees, including one comprising state education ministers, have spoken against the policy.

The human resource development (HRD) ministry has also favoured bringing back examinations to schools, arguing that the policy of not detaining any student has hampered the teaching-learning environment in schools. The RTE amendment bill pending in Parliament aims to give states the right to choose whether or not to bring back examinations to schools.

A skills ministry official, however, said that elementary schools and training institutes are two different case studies and the ITI system has been largely a success in creating either employable workforce or self employment.

Seven decades after independence, a simple graduation degree cannot guarantee jobs, Pradhan said. The situation is not good even with regard to engineering graduates, he said. However, ITI graduates are not sitting at home, the minister argued.

Graduate unemployment in India is nearly four times the normal employment rate in India.

As many as 700,000 to 800,000 students take examinations to pass out of ITIs every year. Rajesh Agarwal, director general of training at the skills ministry, said the minister has made a suggestion to help these students. The official said he is also working on ways to reduce the time lag for ITI students to pass an examination.

The skills ministry is now working to grant graded autonomy to ITIs that score well in a third-party assessment, Agarwal said. More administrative and financial benefits may be given to skill schools who score more than 3.5 in a scale of five, he said.

The entire move, including the minister’s idea on ITIs and examinations, is aimed at improving the quality of the ITI system and creating more employable manpower, he said.

The HRD ministry has started the concept of graded autonomy and granted several private and public colleges and universities additional administrative, academic and financial autonomy.

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