Life Skills: Learning for Living
“It has been going great. We can now see better livelihood opportunities for ourselves,” said three students in unison. The students are enrolled in a Mobile Repair course that is being conducted at the Goela community center. The Sehgal Foundation’s Life Skills Education (LSE) program founded the course. It began on March 14th 2008, and is currently teaching its first 20 students how to repair mobile phones.
Vocational training is an investment that can provide benefits for an entire lifetime. Agriculture is the primary source of income for many villages in the region of Mewat, Haryana, India. But agricultural and other land-based activities are frequently not lucrative and do not ensure employment for large numbers of villagers, especially youths. This makes learning employable skills particularly important to the livelihoods of many.
Mujahid, Asthali and Mubarik Ali belong to large farming families and have been brought up with limited resources. When they heard about the mobile repairing course, they recognized that it would provide them with an employable skill. Incredibly motivated, they sought permission from their families to join the course. “The fee was not a problem as it was reasonably priced at Rs. 50 a month and we could afford it,” said Asthali, whose father is a retired army man. When asked about future plans they said, “We are getting ready to open our own shops as some of our friends have already done that.” Eight students have already started to run their mobile repairing shops. An initial investment of Rs. 10,000-15,000 has enabled them to start earning Rs. 3,000-4,000 per month.
Shahid, native of Chila village in Mewat purchased a computer with his income in order to keep on top of the latest mobile repair techniques. The course was incredibly valuable. He now knows how to repair 80% of mobile problems easily. Only 20% of problems require consultation with his trainer. “My father had a general store before, but after I learned the mobile repairing skills I suggested that he revamp the business. Now the mobile repairing work makes up a larger chunk of our business and has huge demand,” said Shahid.
The Mobile Repairing course has been so successful due the skills of the trainer. Sehgal Foundation conducted an extensive search in order to appoint the right person. The trainer, Saiffudin, is an arts graduate from Zakir Hussein College, Delhi. Before the Mobile Repairing course, Saiffudin ran his own business and conducted workshops for some institutes.
Saiffudin has vast experience with mobile repairing and trains students with sound methodologies and procedures. He says that initially the training was challenging. “It was difficult as some students took a lot of time to open up. They were reluctant to come up and discuss things with me. This is not a problem now since the students respect my knowledge in this field.” Saiffudin encourages his students to practice what they have learned and to not let their new knowledge go to waste. The students regard him as a mentor and friend, who is directing them to learn a skill that will be useful throughout their life.
The students say, “Mobile Phones have become an integral part of our lives.” The Sehgal Foundation is deeply encouraged by the students’ responses to their newly learned skill. They hope it will prove beneficial for them and will add to their earnings.
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