Saturday, December 19, 2015

SEEK 15 and the SEEK model of conclave design

Skill Enterprise Engagement for Empowering Kerala (SEEK) is emerging as a very important biannual conclave of all stakeholders related to the  skill development ecosystem with its first successful conduct in 2013 and now the second instance on 16th and 17th of December 2015.

The principal organizer of the event is the Additional Skill Acquisition Programme (ASAP), a joint skill development initiative of Higher and General Education Departments, Government of Kerala in India. The objective of the ASAP is to provide additional skill training to the students studying at Higher Secondary Schools and the Arts and Science colleges to enhance their employment opportunities as well as their confidence and initiative to become successful individuals and responsible citizens.

In 2013 National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) was the conclave partner. For SEEK 15, Asian Development Bank (ADB) was the partner.

While SEEK13  chiefly focused on unveiling the skill development opportunities in Kerala and to bring Training Service Providers, Industry Associations, Industries including PSUs to work from Kerala in the skill development domain, SEEK 15 focused on triggering very serious discussions on the existing gaps in the policies, strategies and standards with respect to skill development nationwide. It also looked at alternative models to make skill development sustainable by linking the whole process to lifelong learning.

The discussions in the event became damn serious while keeping the whole atmosphere vibrant and creative with the very enthusiastic participation of major industry and government leaders and other experts from all over India and abroad. SEEK15 also became notable by introducing a new design for the conduct of a major conclave. In a nutshell, the design can be explained as closed door panel discussions and plenary presentations and debates. In effect it turned out to be an ideal parliamentary model where in subject committees (here expert panels) examine crucial matters and their reports are debated on the floor of the parliament (here the plenary hall) and approved. The ASAP Core Team and the technical support team of Asian Development Bank (ADB) worked collaboratively in the conclave design process as a single team. Many shared the view that SEEK model of conclave has to be nationally adopted for the conduct of conclaves to ensure outputs and outcomes of higher quality.

Under eleven themes 24 crucial topics were discussed by separate panels of experts. Each panel had an average of 8 members. The total number of panelists was around 190. Apart from that, further 240 experts all over India stationed in the plenary hall for debate during the two days of the event. Though the participants were offered all the flexibility to come in and come out of the plenary hall as they wished, the hall was full for all plenary debates, which indicated the importance of the topics as well as the serious involvement of the delegates. Perhaps, the greatest volume of take home was for the plenary hall delegates, as they were engaging in debates in a logically coherent sequence of topics. Following were the themes of SEEK15
  1. Inclusive approach, Innovative options and International Visibility of skill development
  2. Curriculum Standardisation: Towards ensuring minimum threshold skill attainment; Institutional responsility for curriculum standardisation and revisions (enhanced market responsiveness); Complexities and solutions in enabling skilling for multiple job-roles
  3. Lifelong Learning & Learning Pathways: Approach to Lifelong Learning; National Framework Vs Localized approach to Lifelong Learning; Developing a learning culture & a flexible and self-learning environment.
  4. Developing the Trainer Ecosystem: Making Trainer Job-role as Aspirational; Framework for
    Training of Trainers
  5. Quality Framework for Skilling in India: A holistic approach to Quality Assurance, Quality Grading of TSPs, and Ensuring Quality Trainers
  6. Making Skilling & Employment Aspirational: Matching, Mentoring, Moulding and Monitoring
  7. Mainstreaming Skilling Interventions: University Integration beyond Community College initiatives; Vocationalisation of School Education - integration under RMSA
  8. National Assessment Framework: A common national framework - need and design; Ensuring Quality of Assessors; A common Internationally-valid Certification Standard
  9. Demand-based Skilling: Methodological Challenges and Geographical Dynamics; Targeted skilling for assured employment; Securing Traditional Industry Vs Enabling
  10. Multi-Skill Development Centres: Sustainable Revenue Models; Operations & Governance Framework; and Community Engagement
  11. Entrepreneurial Development: Approach to MSME Development, Women Enterprise Development, and Strategies for Incubation and Financial Access

Yet another major event happened within SEEK15 was the ‘Vikas Conclave’ – the first annual meeting of the Chairpersons and members of the business advisory committees formed to ensure the industry alignment of skill courses under ASAP. ASAP has business advisory committees for skill development in major industry sectors with senior level membership from the leading industries. The ‘Vikas Conclave’ also discussed policy and operational issues in five separate groups and documented it for implementation.

The SEEK Model of Conclave design is not limited to the broad design alone. It also consists of participatory approach to event management. ASAP has around 190 young professionals who work across the state as Programme Managers. Forty of them were entrusted with the design and implementation of each minute aspect of the event under broad categories. Each group of Programme Managers was a mix of those who were part of the organizing team of SEEK13 and those who were not there. This approach ensured a comprehensive picture of the event management in the minds of everyone in the organizing team and it in turn contributed to the successful conduct of the event. Moreover, as they are the practitioners in the thematic areas of the conclave, they could ensure each element of the event is aligned to the objectives of the conclave.  In short, SEEK15 (as well as SEEK 13) had a completely in-house event management with superb professionalism.

The documentations on the deliberations will be shortly available at

Monday, December 7, 2015

OER for Inclusive Development; identifying Challenges, Addressing Opportunities – National Consultation

Inaugural session
CEMCA, UNESCO and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) jointly organized the national consultation on ‘OER for Inclusive Development; identifying Challenges, Addressing Opportunities’ at the JNU Convention Centre on 1st and 2nd December 2015.

The discussions were based on the following themes:

  1. Examining the benefits and implications of the National Mission on Education Through ICT – NMEICT’s open licensing policy guidelines
  2. Examining good practices and case studies on OER-based learning
  3. Exploring the role of digital libraries vis-à-vis OER initiatives
  4. Adapting existing institutional OER policies
  5. Developing and applying frameworks to assess the quality of OER
  6. OER for persons with disabilities
  7. OER for skill development

JNU Convention Centre, New Delhi
The overall feel I got was that the OER movement has to enter into a concerted, targeted and action oriented second phase of its implementation. Now, the OER ecosystem, in general, has good policies, models, content repositories and technology that can be repurposed and used. It also has passionate volunteers and enjoys popular support. Therefore, in the second phase, targeted interventions are necessary in the local/institutional level to:

  1. To create awareness among the top management individual institutions on the need for OER production, adoption and reuse
  2. To provide expert support to trigger the development of policy, strategy and standards through adoption and repurposing.
  3. To provide expert support for implementation
  4. To build local/institutional communities of OER practitioners
  5. Identify new opportunities

In the part of opportunities, one area where the OER interventions are highly required is in the skill development ecosystem. It becomes more important in the context of emerging knowledge economies. For instance, In the Indian context of skill development, the Sector Skill Councils notify National Occupational Standards (NOS) and Qualification Packs (QP). The QPs are directly related to specific job roles. NOSs are basically a listing of competencies that are required for carrying out specific functions of a job role. As we know, each Job has multiple functions and hence multiple NOSs as well. When all the NOSs related to a specific job role are wrapped together, then it is called the QP for that job role. These NOSs and QPs are developed through industry consultations. Once QPs are notified, the next level requirements are the development of a transaction design based on the competences that are to be developed in the trainees based on the QPs, detailed syllabus and the training content based on it. Now, almost all the implementers and training service providers in the skill development ecosystem face severe scarcity of these very crucial transaction elements of training. Therefore, it is the right time for the OER fraternity to intervene to plug this gap. The merit of it would be, regularly updated open content for skill training that can ensure effectiveness, accessibility and reach of the skill training programmes. This in turn would ensure inclusive economic development.

Yet another sector that has high demand in developing OER systems is OER for persons with disabilities. Developing standards for OER production for persons with disabilities using the existing technologies could be one item that can be taken up immediately. Technological innovations can be an item for future.

As the organizers wished, all the discussions at the national consultation provided recommendation oriented and action oriented outputs, starting from the inaugural session, because the participants were passionate OER practitioners who have either successfully faced various kinds of challenges in OER implementation and related areas or who are closely monitoring and studying such challenges.