Ladakh is a region unique by virtue of its location, topography, culture, history, and natural heritage. The difficult geographical terrain, freezing winters extending to nearly one-third of the year, remote villages, and sparse population spread over a large area, lack of adequate infrastructural support and scarcity of qualified human resource has posed challenges for smooth roll-out of any development initiative in Ladakh, it is essential that youth are made the catalyst in the growth story through education, skill development, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Quality Education and Enabling Infrastructure
The first focus has been on offering quality higher education in Ladakh. The University of Ladakh (UoL) was established in 2019 as a cluster University comprising 6 constituent colleges located at Leh, Kargil, Nubra, Zanskar, Khaltsi and Drass. Since then the courses offered in the University have now expanded to 22 Departments that also include specialised subjects like Forensic Science, Police Administration and Bachelor of Physical Education. Sixteen MoUs have been signed by theUoL with other institutes to promote student exchange programmes, faculty development, collaboration on research and capacity building, etc.
To encourage merit and industriousness among students, Ladakh administration launched the Rewa (Ladakhi word meaning expectation) Scheme in 2021 to give financial assistance of upto Rs 1 lakh to meritorious students of Class X and XII, irrespective of their family income.
The financial assistance is given to enable students to take up coaching for national-level examinations like NEET, JEE, UG CLAT and NDA. Around 30 students of Class X and 35 students of Class XII from each district shall be given the scholarship this year.
Collaboration with Indian Institutes of Technology
For the first time ever, the students of Ladakh have got an opportunity to intern with and pursue a postgraduate course in M.Tech at the premier Institute of the country, the Indian Institute of Technology, as part of the collaboration between the Higher Education Department, UT Ladakh and the consortium of IITs.
Skilling and vocational education is an integral part of the National Education Policy 2020 and steps are being taken to strengthen and expand the skilling ecosystem in Ladakh.
Ladakh has two Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) besides the two Polytechnic Colleges, one in each district. ITIs have been shaping craftsmen to meet the existing as well as future skilled manpower needs. They impart training in 14 trades including Fashion Design & Technology, Information & Communication Technology System Management, Computer Operator & Programming Assistant, Carpentry, Electrician, and Plumbing among others.
Entrepreneurial education needs to be built into the education which is also emphasised in the National Education Policy 2020. A comprehensive project is being planned to introduce entrepreneurship as a credit based subject in Higher Educational Institutions and also in ITIs.
The Department of Industries has also taken up a number of initiatives like setting up the Ladakh Incubation Centre, training in leather goods, exploring the export market for fruits, handloom and handicrafts, MoU with NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology), Craft documentation and branding activities in association with National Institute of Design (NID), linking with the Ministry of Commerce for buyer and seller facilitation arrangement of Vanijya Saptah, Entrepreneurship Development Conclave, collaboration with Khadi and Village Industries Commission for capacity building of Pashmina weavers and creation of Brand Ladakh’ have been some of the notable steps taken.
Ladakh can offer a unique development model which is carbon neutral and this can be achieved only through the active participation of all the stakeholders, the most important of which are the citizens. For this, it is essential that youth are made the catalyst in the growth story through education, skill development, innovation and entrepreneurship.