Networking Academy Contributes to India's Decade of Innovation
Considered to be one of the pioneers of technical education in the state of Rajasthan, India, Professor M.C. Govil has taught computer science for 24 years. Currently on sabbatical from Malviya National Institute of Technology in Jaipur, he serves as Principal of Women's Engineering College and Director for the Center for Electronic Governance. Professor Govil says: "I feel it is my primary duty to advance education and training in Information and Communications Technology (ICT)."
Professor Govil's association with Cisco Networking Academy spans more than a decade. He has been the leader of the Cisco Networking Academy initiative, launched in November 2007 by the Technical Education Department, Government of Rajasthan, with the mission to provide quality technological education at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Since then, over 2400 students have received computer network training. There are 26 local academies across Rajasthan, including 5 government engineering colleges, 5 polytechnic colleges, and 10 industrial training institutes.
Building on India's Extensive Education History
India has a rich legacy of education, including Nalanda University, the oldest university system in the world, founded in the 5th century. Education, which is a fundamental right in the Indian constitution, is mainly provided by the public sector. (Private education accounts for only five percent of educational institutions in India.)
Over the years, India has made progress in terms of increasing the rate of primary education to 90 percent for 6- to 14-year-olds (World Bank, September 2010). It has also increased literacy to approximately two-thirds of the population (Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, March 2011). Professor Govil states: "India's improved education system is often cited as one of the main contributors to the economic rise of India."
The country still has many challenges, one of which is unemployment at an estimated 10.8 percent (Index Mundi, 2010). Professor Govil explains: "One of the many reasons for unemployment in India is a huge gap in adequate skills development and vocational training to match the increasing pace of globalization and technological changes taking place in the world. The decade 2010 to 2020 in India has been named the Decade of Innovation. However, the biggest constraint remains the availability of skilled manpower."
India's Goal: 500 Million Skilled Technicians by 2020
India has set the goal of developing 500 million skilled technicians by the year 2020 to meet the workforce requirements not only in India but also worldwide. Professor Govil outlines what he sees as the priorities to meet the challenges of the 21st century and to introduce ICT to schools:
The current information economy requires an unprecedented level of technology literacy from tomorrow's workers. Professor Govil says: "In many Asia-Pacific countries, there is a severe shortage of trained networking specialists. While ICT-focused curricula are becoming more commonplace in developed countries, colleges and universities in developing countries are often not able to provide up-to-date ICT curricula due to a lack of trained staff and equipment. Unless this changes, these countries run the risk of being left behind in the information age, widening the gap between rich and poor countries."
Networking Academy Meets ICT Training Needs
Through Networking Academy, students learn how to design, build, and maintain computer networks. Professor Govil notes: "The students get a platform to share their learning with other students and thereby channel their talents in a constructive manner. We also believe that the Internet and education are the two greatest equalizers in life. We strive to bridge these gaps through Networking Academy."
Professor Govil lists some of the unique features of Networking Academy: "Public-private partnership in the field of education, global online curriculum and Learning Management System (LMS), curriculum aligned to business needs to develop industry-ready students, state-of-the-art assessment, advanced simulation and virtualization (Packet Tracer simulation software), student competitions to build hands-on skills, innovative ICT pedagogy (e-learning curriculum, instructor material, and student resources), hands-on practice and simulation, and an online community enabling sharing of best practices."
These distinctive characteristics of the Cisco training are making a difference. Says Professor Govil: "Networking Academy is spreading awareness of learning ICT and applying a variety of technologies. The trained teachers and students have become much more confident. The students are giving excellent feedback about their coursework. Networking Academy has surely made an impact on the lives of the instructors and has made them realize the value of ICT in education."
Success Story: Engineering Degree Not Enough for Job Offer
Himanshu Mathur, an electronics and communications engineering graduate, no doubt sees the value of Cisco Networking Academy training. He had several job interviews, but due to his lack of practical knowledge, he was unable to secure a job offer. He enrolled in Cisco CCNA courses at the local Networking Academy. He studied hard and focused on the practical, hands-on aspects of the coursework. After successfully completing the training and certification in four months, he was hired in November 2010 as a network administrator at Unisys Global Services, a worldwide IT company.