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Department of School & Mass Education, Govt. of Odisha and Wadhwani Foundation’s Skills Development Network Sign MoU to Make Odisha a Leader in ‘Smart State’ Initiative

  • Initiation of large-scale vocational education in Odisha’s secondary schools

  • Aimed at enhancing employability of students through four years of skills based training in a vocational subject enabling students to be job-ready on graduation from high school 

  • Quality skilling expected to accelerate job creation and accrue demographic dividend for the State of Odisha


Govt. of Odisha’s Department of School and Mass Education and Wadhwani Foundation’s Skills Development Network (SDN) today announced a strategic partnership which aims at making Odisha a ‘Smart State’ through Talent Development.



Smt. Ranjana Chopra, Commissioner cum Secretary - School & Mass Education, Govt. of Odisha exchanged the MoU with Austin Thomas, Director - SDN, Wadhwani Foundation in the presence of Shri Naveen Patnaik, Honorable Chief Minister of Orissa and other Ministers and senior officers of Odisha Govt.


The MoU suggests providing four years of purposeful / result-oriented skills based training in a vocational subject of students choice from a selection of vocations offered to them. The other phase of the programme is to introduce a parallel, dedicated vocational stream Class XI onwards that offers Diploma in Vocational Education to those students who aspire for vocational careers.


While SDN will provide effective program management (design, planning & quality), the technology platform, e‐content, and knowledge management expertise to operationalize the Program Management Unit within the Odisha state, the Odisha State will set up and run the Program Management Unit.


On the occasion of signing this MoU, Smt. Ranjana Chopra, Commissioner cum Secretary – School & Mass Education, Govt. of Odisha, “The MoU with Wadhwani Foundation for introducing Vocational Education in the schools in Odisha is part of the larger Vocational Skills Development initiative undertaken in the State. 208 schools are being taken up in the first phase and we are hopeful that in partnership with Wadhwani Foundation, we will be able to upscale the programme in the future to many more schools”.


Expressing happiness on signing the MoU, Dr. Ajay Kela, President and CEO, Wadhwani Foundation said, “Odisha’s Smart State initiative will focus on job creation and job fulfillment through building and supporting the full life-cycle of the skilling, entrepreneurship, and innovation ecosystems. Leading with skilling and large-scale vocationalization of secondary schools in Odisha, this initiative aims to equip high-school graduates with sufficient work-skills to command family supporting wages. This collaboration between Odisha Government and Skills Development Network (SDN) of Wadhwani Foundation is the first step towards high-quality job creation and job fulfillment in the State.


The MoU is a significant step in creating the much needed integrated system that will support the full lifecycle of entrepreneurship, innovation and skilling to make Odisha a leader in job creation and talent development through industry linkages with local industry associations and Sector Skills Councils (SSC’s) that result in internship and apprenticeship opportunities and courses that are relevant, market aligned and in demand.


About Wadhwani Foundation

Wadhwani Foundation was founded in 2000 by Dr. Romesh Wadhwani with the primary mission of accelerating economic development in emerging economies through large-scale job creation. The Foundation is present in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, East Africa and Latin America, operating in association with governments, corporates, mentors, investors and educational institutes, and has plans to expand soon to other countries in Asia, Africa, and South America. Its five Initiatives are driving job creation through innovation, entrepreneurship and skill development.


National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) inspires, educates, and supports student entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs for creating high-value jobs.  Over the past ten years, NEN has trained over 3,000 faculty across 500 institutes, who now regularly offer entrepreneurship courses to more than 100,000 students, annually. NEN recently signed an agreement with Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to scale this to 3000 institutes.  NEN has also ventured into creating city-based entrepreneurial ecosystems that would consist of mentors, investors, and incubators supporting startups and SMEs.


Skills Development Network (SDN) aims to equip non-college-bound high school graduates with sufficient work-skills to command family supporting wages. Today, SDN works across 3000 high schools and with over 200,000 students and is embarking on scaling this to 15,000 schools over the next three-five years, in partnership with the Indian government. SDN is also working with the Central and State Governments to transform ITIs to modern manufacturing training hubs and multi-skill institutes, and with employers to engage in providing adjunct faculty, internships, and apprenticeships.  


Opportunity Network for Disabled (OND) mainstreams the educated disabled into sustainable, high-quality corporate jobs through a business value proposition. 8,000 people have been placed through this initiative and OND, in partnership with the government and industry, is building capacity to place 100,000 over the next five years with the ultimate goal of corporates recognizing the business value of hiring and mainstreaming the disabled. 


Research and Innovation Network (RIN) aims to create a world-class innovation ecosystem in India with the goal of propelling India towards the top ten innovative nations in the world. The Wadhwani Research Centre for Biotechnology (WRCB) at IIT Bombay and Shanta Wadhwani Centre for Cardiac and Neural Research (SWCCNR) at NCBS, Bengaluru, are the two pioneer centers set up by RIN. The Startup and Small Business Innovation (SSBI) initiative aims to create national ecosystems in critical sectors of high importance. 


Policy Research Center (PRC) provides data-driven research inputs for informed policy action towards accelerating economic growth. PRC has assessed the performance of two of India’s most comprehensive and largest programs initiated by the Department of Biotechnology and administered by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) – SBIRI and BIPP. The assessment led to evidence-based recommendations for policymakers to improve impact and scale of innovation programs in small- and medium-scale industries. The Foundation envisions creating partnerships with various central government organizations to initiate innovation grants to 25,000 companies over five years as part of the SSBI Initiative.


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