HT Article

NGO training school dropouts for a better future

December 27, 2007  |  RSS

New Delhi: “Give a hungry man a fish and he will be satisfied. Teach him how to fish and he will never go hungry again.” Armed with this ideology, Etasha, an NGO in the capital, is training school dropouts in various skills required in the service sector and helping them get jobs.

Just over a year old, Etasha has seen three batches of youngsters passing out and leading financially stable and independent lives, while the fourth batch is nearing completion of the course.

Meenakshi Nayar, chairperson of Etasha, said while a person who has passed Class 10 examinations or dropped out at an even lower grade can manage to get only petty jobs, three months of training in a specialised field arms them with the skills required for better paying and more stable employment.

“Our training programme is just for three months and in any one of the four fields – retail, hospitality, date entry and domestic call centre. After completing the course, the student has a job in hand which gets him or her much more than what they used to before doing the course,” Nayar told IANS.

“There are so many youngsters who have graduated or have passed their Class 12 examinations and are still sitting at home jobless or stuck with some monotonous work which offers them a menial salary.

“Most of these jobs don’t require much qualification beyond a Class 10 pass certificate. The additional skills are more important and that’s what we are equipping them with,” Nayar said.

While ICICI Prudential, Vishal Mega Mart stores and Tez Point, a domestic call centre, have absorbed students trained by Etasha, talks are on with Café Coffee Day, Subhiksha and Just Dial, a phone directory.

“Talks are on with many other retail outlets that are keen on us training students exclusively for them. For instance, Subhiksha and Café Coffee Day are very interested in this,” Nayar said.

Gyanu, a 23-year-old graduate, is one of the many who have been trained at Etasha.

“Although I am a graduate, I didn’t have a proper job until now. I somehow lacked the confidence and the language finesse required for a job interview,” Gyanu said.

“Then I came to know about these training programmes offered by Etasha by a friend. A couple of us joined the centre together and passed out last month. Today I am well placed with an insurance company.”

Similarly, Asma Ali, who is working with Vishal Mega Mart, said this training helped her get the job. For her though, the challenge was tougher since her parents preferred her staying at home rather than working outside.

“I have studied until Class 10 but I couldn’t continue my studies beyond that. Despite wanting to work, I couldn’t get a job that would both pay me well and also be fulfilling and respectable.

“When my friends told me about the training, I was eager to join. But the teachers there had to convince my parents who were not enthusiastic about it. Three months after I joined the course, I came home with my first salary and my father couldn’t hold back his tears,” Ali told IANS.

But all of this doesn’t come for free.

“We believe that if a person is made to pay for something, he is more dedicated and committed towards the cause. That’s why we charge a nominal fee of Rs.200 each month from the students during the course and Rs.1,500 after they are placed in a job.

“If the student is bright but can’t afford to pay, we exempt him from the initial payment but ask him to pay the latter amount once he has a job in hand,” Nayar said.

And the students don’t seem to mind at all.

“For so much, the fee is nominal. Not only does it help you get a good job but it also builds up your confidence level and polishes your language ability. Since a 95 percent attendance is a must, it also instils discipline in the students,” Gyanu said.

Also, the classes take place between 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. so that those who are employed somewhere can continue going to work even while preparing for a better future ahead.

Nayar, who worked as a human resource professional for 25 years before forming Etasha, said that while earlier they used to work in association with local NGOs that work at the community level and can identify needy youngsters stuck in menial jobs or jobless ones, now they will start independent programmes.

“One of the best things that is happening now is that more and more girls are joining the training programmes. Now nearly 50 percent of the trainees are girls,” Nayar said. (IANS)