Salvation for school dropouts KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – As the dreaded Maoist leader Kishanji and his comrades were hunted down by security forces in the Jungalmahal, young Kamal (name changed), from a Maoist infested West Midnapore village, was putting final touches building a house which is part of the three year Civil Engineering Technicians course at Mirpara, in Howrah district. The course is meant for unemployed and marginalized youth who have scored poor marks in their school final examinations like Madhyamik or equivalent.
“I was in deed lucky to get the opportunity to study Civil Engineering,” says Kamal, student at Don Bosco Self Employment Research Institute (DB SERI) at Mirpara near Liluah.
Kamal heard about the Vocational Training Institute from a friend who successfully completed one year programme in Electric House Wiring & Motor Winding at DB SERI and is self-employed in his village close to Midnapore town.
Kamal’s luck pursued him with a campus recruitment offer from a company that hired him with starting pay of Rs. 9,500 plus food, accommodation and other perks.
“I will be able to send home money to support the education of my younger sister,” says Kamal proudly.
His Dean of studies at DB SERI, Fr. Alfred Paul says, “Kamal’s success story is remarkable as his case was the worst.”
“Among 40 students in his batch, Kamal was the ‘worst’. His knowledge of English was absolutely zero. His application to study and discipline: nil,” recalls Fr. Paul.
These three years of training for Kamal was a long and tough journey. His teachers had no hope in him. Constant polishing and chiseling in DB SERI and the motivational talks and guidance of Priests at the hostel made him tough and determined to reach his goal. Today Kamal speaks English fluently and is a well defined gentleman.
During the same three-year period (July 2008 to June 2011) DBSERI also trained some 4,000 Gram Rojkar Sevokes (GRS) from 17 districts of Bengal, withWest Midnapore(Jungalmahal) topping the list with 502 youth trained.
DBSERI`s founder-director Br. T.V. Mathew recalling his efforts to fight youth unemployment with self-employment says, “as more than 85 per cent of children drop out from schools, Don Bosco Society took up this noble programme to equip school drop-out boys and girls with income generating skills leading to self-employment.”
Started in 1978 in the hired premises with 14 vagrant boys, it was later shifted to the present permanent site, at Mirpara, in 1990 with over 14 trades.
Today some 500 boys and girls between the age of 16 and 25 are on DBSERI`s roll with out- station candidates accommodated in three hostels (two for boys and one for girls).
At the end of one-year training in Entrepreneurship Development most of the trainees are motivated to launch out into a self-employment project.
A long time Consultant to the Government of West Bengal in Vocational Training and Govt of India for Self Employment, Br. Mathew has also initiated several non-traditional income generating trades to train women in setting up small enterprises and be financially independent.