September 2006, Jammu
I would like to thank professor Dhavan for organizing an incredibly well organized trip.
During the day, we were able to meet with the entire committee, including Vice Chancellor Mattoo, give out certificates to last years graduates and visit six villages.
At the end of the following summary of actions taken by the Advisory Committee, are comments put forth by SAF Founder Madanjeet Singh.
Summary of the SAF Vocational Training Scholarships Advisory Committee Decisions for the current and previous sessions:
- For 2005 - 2006, 33 candidates were selected.
- During this second session, 9 students were selected for the Pre-Primary Education Programme, in addition to the previously offered vocational training courses.
- Jammu University added a share of Rs 6,00,000 for this session, to take care of lodging and travel needs, as a considerable number of students were from extremely remote regions; the university felt that the candidates should be as diverse as possible.
- Over the past year, a great deal of enthusiasm from the university and the rural community has been given to SAF Vocational Training Programme; as a result, considerably more attention has been paid to training inputs and post support.
- For the next session i.e. 2006-2007 - candidates have already been selected and a list has been given to SAF. SAF-India can proceed with the awarding of scholarships to the selected students
- V.C Mattoo indicated that the university has allocated a fair number of its own resources; it has become apparent that the SAF Vocational Training Programmes are essential in Jammu to mobilize the rural community, economy and regional work ethic from the ground up.
- These programmes seem to have taken a life of their own in rural areas, as graduates of the program seem to have created a tremendous local need for social enterprise.
- The University has decided to increase the number of scholarships (previously 25% of total awardees) for Pre-Primary Education by carefully selecting those candidates who would be sincerely interested in starting pre-primary schools.
- The Rural Development Programme has provided funding for an additional 10 girls, of which, some will be selected for the Pre-Primary programme. Professor Dhavan will give SAF a list once the selections have been finalized.
- Henceforth, the per-unit cost of each student should be included in the budget; this should include travel, lodge and all ancillary expenses.
- Post Support
- The university has given approval for the official rates to be set by the candidates for the goods they produce / sell.
- As a number of graduates have started, and self-financed their own Vocational Training Centres in their respective villages, the committee has agreed to provide students of these centres with Certificates of affiliation with Jammu University.
Certificate of Affiliation with Jammu University
- The Industries Department has been encouraged to provide exhibition areas for students of the programme to display their products at a discounted rate. At the university itself, a room has been dedicated for displaying and selling products made by the students.
- In the future, greater provisions will have to be made for women coming in from far away rural areas (essential for the diversity of the programme).
- Either the committee could look for partners in neighboring districts who will cooperate in running the training programme, or look for additional funding form external sponsors, SAF, or the university itself, for travel and lodging arrangements.
Comments from Ambassador Singh
1. Jammu University must follow proper procedures to increase or decrease SAF scholarships. The proposals should originate from the University and should be submitted to the SAF-India Chairman.
Accordingly, the Chairman will decide, depending on the availability of funds and the overall budgetary limits, if such changes may be made.
2. The increase in number of candidates for the Pre-Primary programme must come from within the 30 SAF Scholarships awarded.
3. The selection of candidates for the SAF Vocational Training Scholarships must include some students from the minority communities to avoid false notions of communalism in regard to the selection process.
Class of 2005 - 2006
During the award giving ceremony, I got to talk to the girls first hand about their experiences. Even though some of the girls had to take a 10 hour bus ride to get their certificates, they were thrilled to have received acknowledgement from SAF and the university.
The girls had terrific things to say about the training programme. Many of them had recently started their own enterprises - either alone, or in partnership with other girls from the programme.
They indicated that without the training, they would have never dreamt of their new found independence, nor would they have had the confidence to tackle the many obstacles of the working world.
Another interesting point made by the girls was that the variety of skills both, in service provision and manufacture of handicrafts, has created a market need that does not compete with male dominated enterprises.
Out of the 9 girls involved in the pre-primary education programme, about 4 have started schools; the others are still in the process of planning their schools.
All six enterprises visited, were in the Samba District (Brief descriptions of the enterprises and images are provided at the end of the report).
These initiatives were set up and completely funded by the graduates of the programme. The direct measurable effect of an educational training programme is hard to immediately identify, however the following qualities were common to all the girls:
- All 6 girls spoke with confidence and sincere honesty, more importantly they all seemed to have motivated their communities – the interest and passion in creating a livelihood seems to have a multiplying effect.
- Quality of the handicrafts they produce is surprisingly good, comparable to those available at FABINDIA or Cottage Industry- type stores in most metros.
- All girls are meticulous book-keepers; they know how to take care of accounts and conduct formal correspondence in regard to business related matters.
- All the girls are pursuing higher education programmes.
- Most girls specialize in a single enterprise but many have complementary projects involving other women in the community.
Even though I had just a day to view these projects, it was quite evident that there is a great need for the SAF Vocational Training Programmes in Jammu.
More importantly, the girls seem to think of their enterprises not only as jobs but also as institutions for social change – and this feeds back into their enthusiasm.
Furthermore, the SAF scholarship programme has given them the ability to create clearly sustainable enterprises that can churn out a variety of products; this “value added” training allows somewhat of a steady income in what would otherwise have been a very season dependant economy.
The committee also mentioned that some girls do eventually want to get full time jobs and some are forced to follow strict social traditions such as getting married or following the family occupation – not much can be done to remedy this.
However, it is quite apparent that the programme has changed, and for the better, the lives of many young women.
Brief summary of the enterprises set up by the 2004 graduates is mentioned below:
Village – Raya/Patti
Student Anita Devi
SAF-Madanjeet Singh Vocational Training students in Jammu.
- Set up her own “skill development programme”.
- Teaches arts and crafts to women/girls in Patti (which is 20 kms from where she lives).
- There is an incredible demand for her service:
- Neighboring villages in the District have asked her to set up centres for their communities.
- Community has also asked her to provide 2 sessions / day.
- The quality of goods by Anita’s students is impressive.
- She makes a round trip of 40 km per day, changing 3 busses.
- Continues selling her arts and crafts.
Village - Palath
Student Privta Devi
Prof. Dhavan (University of Jammu) and Mr. Karan Khosla (Secretary SAF India) with children of the Primary School.
- Success of this school will only be measurable after a few years.
- There are a few nursery students.
- The flat rate per month per student is Rs. 60.
- Pripta’s other on-going enterprises include manufacture and sale of spices and sesame seed oil.
- She has enrolled in further academic programmes, and has got most of her family to do the same.
Village - Guda Salathia
Students Jyoti Slathia & Savita
- Set up a primary school with 2 other girls (also graduates of the class of 2004).
- Has managed to get 40 students, attendance is quite good.
- One can tell, even from a cursory inspection of the official school paperwork, that the girls impressively managed to tackle the local beaurecracy; they got space for the school, got it registered and inspected by local authorities without asking for support from the university.
- The school has its own uniforms and desks.
- Management, of the school is terrific, though operating costs seem to be quite high.
Prof. Dhavan (right) and Mr. Karan Khosla with a student.
- Jyoti and Savita manufacture and sell traditional arts and crafts.
- Shop also serves as a training vocational training center for local women.
- The girls provide a 3 month training program in the manufacture of traditional handicrafts.
- Once the course is completed students get a certificate of affiliation with Jammu University.
Village - Samba
Student Sushma Devi
- Print Making enterprise
- Sushma had temporarily stopped production last year to work at a full time job. However as of this year Sushma is back to producing textiles, in partnership with another graduate of the programme.
- Has enrolled in higher education programmes.
- Tables sets - main product sell for anyway from Rs. 180 - 500.
Village – Samba
Student Pami Sambgol
- Has huge market demand.
- Sell for Rs 50 -100 (She makes an average of Rs. 30 in profit per folder).
- Unbelievable quality.
- Manufactures 25 per day.
- Receives on average 200 orders / month.
- Great demand for products especially amongst academic institutions.
- Office Stationary.