Yes, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has clarified to schools that the introduction of vocational courses from Std IX onwards is not mandatory. This clarification was a result of several schools calling up the board's headquarters after a previous circular created ambiguity.
The board's vocational programme officer Biswajit Saha said, "Several queries were raised by schools therefore, it is clarified that there is no compulsion and only schools who are interested in offering skill competency based vocational courses at Secondary Level (Class IX onwards) may opt any one or more of the following courses under National Vocational Education Qualification Framework (NVEQF)".
According to the sources, the Schools in the city say vocational courses find no takers hence this clarification does come as a relief. "No student wants to take on the extra burden in Std IX and X considering that most have already started IIT or medical coaching classes. Parents are already hounding us for the extra work students have on their hands due to continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE), hence anything new would not be beneficial to both us and students," a school principal said.
However, the CBSE had asked schools to offer vocational training in subjects such as retail, automobile, security and information technology. If a school does offer this course then it has two choices to accommodate it in the marking scheme. Saha writes that schools may offer the vocational subject as "optional sixth subject along with the existing five regular academic subjects of secondary level of the same curriculum".
The second option is to offer the vocational course as a compulsory sixth subject in Std IX and X. However, here the curriculums of five regular academic subjects will have to be specially designed so as to accommodate this course under NVEQF if the student opts for above vocational subject both in Std IX and X. The CGPA for Std IX and X for such students will be calculated considering the grade/marks obtained in the said sixth subject along with the other specially designed five regular academic subjects. The CBSE will then issue a 'National Certificate for Work Preparation' of that particular sector's industry skill council. This will be in addition to the regular CCE certificate issued to students.
About Vocational Course:
Vocational education (education based on occupation or employment) (also known as vocational education and training or VET) is education that prepares people for specific trades, crafts and careers at various levels from a trade, a craft, technician, or a professional position in engineering, accountancy, nursing, medicine, architecture, pharmacy, law etc.
It is sometimes referred to as technical education as the trainee directly develops expertise in a particular group of techniques. In the UK some higher technician engineering positions that require 4-5 year apprenticeship require academic study to HNC / HND or higher City and Guilds level.
This can be contrasted with declarative knowledge as used in education in a usually broader scientific field, which might concentrate on theory and abstract conceptual knowledge, characteristic of tertiary education. Vocational education can be at the secondary, post-secondary level, further education level and can interact with the apprenticeship system. Increasingly, vocational education can be recognised in terms of recognition of prior learning and partial academic credit towards tertiary education (e.g., at a university) as credit; however, it is rarely considered in its own form to fall under the traditional definition of higher education.