The Shishu Mandir Community College offers courses in various trades for youth in the community. The training is geared towards employment. The need for the community college came up, because the school could support only a small number. Many villagers asked us, “What about our children?” There was a high dropout rate from schools in the area. We felt that the answer lay in vocational training.
HOW IT WORKS.
Our Community College is affiliated to ICRDCE (Indian Centre for Development of Community Education). Admission is open to those who may have dropped out of high school or college and/or those who cannot afford to continue their education due to family circumstances or financial constraints. The courses run between 4 to 6 months, are offered free of cost, and supplemented with bus fare and lunch. We include spoken English, life-skills training, theatre workshop and first aid. All our Community College students are encouraged and supported in completing their school leaving certificate through the National Open School system.
OFFICE ADMINISTRATION WITH TALLY
TWO-WHEELER MECHANISM WITH DRIVING SCHOOL
ELECTRICAL AND SOLAR ENERGY TECHNICIAN
FITTERS AND MACHINE SHOP WITH CNC TURNING
Students choosing a technical trade receive 4-wheeler driving lessons and a license.
The most popular courses are the technical trade. While the computer courses seem to offer a higher starting salary, technical trade allows the students to earn secondary income and become self-employed faster. All students are also taught spoken English and basic computer skills. They also attend first aid training and life skills sessions.
The impact of vocational training is seen very quickly. In as short a period as six months, students leave the course equipped with both skills and a job. We have several small scale industries in our neighbourhood, and we actively network to match the right people with the right job. Without exception we see that all our students find employment.
With employment come significant lifestyle changes. Their houses slowly change from a shed with asbestos roofs to concrete houses. Many are able to buy two-wheelers. Socially we are able to keep them from turning to alcoholism and drug abuse, which are often aggravated by the lack of a job and a fear of the future.
THE CREATION OF ENTREPRENEURS.
Every school student at Shishu Mandir is introduced to a trade and taught to value it. We find that, when the focus is solely academics, we are preparing the child for a job that offers the stability of a monthly salary. If the focus is solely on trade, they become apprentices to someone and remain dependent on an employer. A mix of both is seen to equip them with the confidence and knowledge to venture into their own business. This further supports the community with job creation. We saw the benefits of this during COVID, when job loss was a real problem. Having a skill to put into use gave many of our alumni a back-up earning opportunity and the path to entrepreneurship.