According to a study titled ‘A Change Map for Industrial Training Institutes in India: Insights from Ecosystem Leaders’, conducted by Quest Alliance in 2019, 95% of principals highlighted that they required regular in-service training.
The insights helped us identify an overview of challenges, priority gap areas and solutions, and strategies that can drive reform in the ecosystem. With a focus on leadership for change, the Principal Leadership Program, a long-term engagement program, was developed.
The expected outcomes were – to build a strong network of principals who would be open to peer learning, and to develop knowledge of the self-learning framework and its implementation, making their ITIs self-learning hubs. To complete the program, all participating principals had to also identify a change project and implement it in their ITI over a period of four months.
A pilot in Tamil Nadu
Forty principals took part in the first cohort of the Principal Leadership Program, organised in Tamil Nadu. They underwent an eight-month training, after which they undertook change projects and saw it through from conceptualisation to implementation.
Using real-life experiences, principals initiated change projects on various aspects, such as creating student hubs, increasing enrolment of women, increasing industry engagements and prioritising students’ safety.
“Every principal who takes charge at an ITI dreams of leaving a mark by way of a pet project. The Principal Leadership Program, in my opinion, was an avenue for these dreams to be realised sooner than later.” — N. Prem Kumar, Principal, Government ITI, Thindivanam.
The Government ITI in Andimadam is far from a big town. Students enrolled here all hail from families with low income. To improve the quality of learning and to ensure that the students get all-around development, John Basha, Principal at the ITI, chose to set up committees for students to showcase their talents. Super-wiser-32 is an identifier for the 32 students who have been selected to showcase innovative projects.
My vision is to see 300 students, which is the complete strength of the institute, showcase their creativity and innovation by the end of five years.”
–John Basha,Principal, Government ITI, Andimadam
As part of the skill committee at the ITI, students identify projects they want to attempt and approach their trainers, who guide them through the process. Students are given prizes and encouraged to come up with more innovative ideas.
“The students will graduate with at least one innovative project they developed. The trainers who are part of these committees have seen tremendous growth in just a few months. Not only are they more focussed on learning, but they also show equal enthusiasm in sports and other activities,” John Basha said.
The learning outcomes from these programs will be lifelong, he added, saying that Quest Alliance has been a driving force in executing the change project.
Some principals decided to improve safety measures in their ITI and instil the importance of these equipment in workplaces. The principal at the Government ITI, Kattumannarkoil, G. Vasanth had witnessed a severe injury inflicted upon a colleague while working with heavy equipment years ago and hoped to prevent such incidents.
Students enrolled at the ITI hail from economically disadvantaged families, many of who cannot afford footwear, let alone safety shoes.
Good safety shoes cost over Rs. 1500 and cannot be provided to all students. However, these shoe-toes, made at a cost of Rs. 500 a pair, can be kept in the workshops, and the students can wear them while working.”
— Vasanth, Principal, Government ITI, Kattumannarkoil
The initiative will also encourage the students to be cognizant of the provision of personnel protective equipment and measures at the workplace, he added.
These shoe-toes can be worn over footwear or even bare feet. They are made using a metal toe cap which protects the toes. The leather casing makes it durable and water-resistant, apart from also protecting the wearer from welding sparks. The backside of the shoe-toe is an elastic band, which can fit around feet of any size, allowing it to be comfortable for all students.
The way forward
More cohorts of the Principal Leadership Program is being planned in Assam, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Gujarat, and will support principals to address challenges in their ITIs and ideate and implement more change projects. This immersive experience is an effort to propel principals to be leaders, community builders and, subsequently, changemakers.
“Each of the principals who undertook change projects will share their experiences with other ITIs in the region. The other principals will take stock of the efforts that the projects have made in the ITIs and will adopt it in their respective institutions. Through these insights and changes, will showcase our Villupuram region as a model that other regions can learn from,” T. John Bosco, Villupuram Regional Joint Director, Department of Employment and Training, Tamil Nadu.