Having missed formal education, these young women have vocational skills on their minds

Having missed formal education, these young women have vocational skills on their minds

Formal education may either not be available or may be of such poor quality that children lack interest and drop out of school, with insufficient education depriving many young people in rural areas from acquiring basic skills. Focus on vocational training for adolescents and youths – who are in or vulnerable to child labour – will help them develop newer work skills and enhance employability with dignity.

When at one hand a few school drop outs and child labours are identified by CASA and enrolled back to bridge courses or regular schools, not all children meet the same fate at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, in spite of constant efforts by the government and civil societies, a large number of the children are still trapped in the cycle of poverty as they leave behind their childhood which deserves right to complete education, proper nutrition and healthcare.
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With a majority of child labourers not able to pursue education, a few – however – dream of re-starting a more dignified life after having left one in the race for a stable financial life. For those, CASA gives them an opportunity like vocational skill training centres and computer training centres Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
The journey for a girl child labourer is even more painful. Being ‘doubly marginalised’, she starts working at a very young age, is married off even before she is an adult and delivers a child when she is an ‘adolescent’- in most cases.
 
While some mothers are successful in keeping their child out of the bounds of poverty, other are not so “lucky”.
13-year-old Mary started working in the chilly field and cotton field before coming to this CASA Skill Training Centre in Chithapur village of Chhattrai Mandal district in Andhra Pradesh.
In the summer season, she would go with her family to pluck and collect mangos to earn a daily wage of around Rs 120.  Belonging to a landless agricultural labourer family, the daily wage for her parents proved to be insufficient to support their daily needs.
 
Troubles started to bloom up when the family reeled under huge debt after her brother and sister’s marriages. “My family is still trying to pay off the debt,” she said.
It has been 4 months that she is coming to this centre to learn tailoring and embroidery. “I have a lot of faith in this art. I feel I can liberate myself from the exhaustive labour works in the fields by concentrating on this form of art,” she says.
 
“I can stitch frocks, gowns, and blouse.  One stitched blouse costs 50 Rs or more. 2-3 blouses per day will give me more than what I used to earn at the field,” she smile when she answers.
For her, the more joyous part is not the income coming out of the profession, but the joy to “sit under shade, comfort” and practice her skill is what “calms her mind.”
 
Lack of employment opportunities and wage disparity holds them back. This leads to a situation where they have very little voice in the decision-making within their families or in community.
CASA believes in making women financially independent by imparting vocational training like embroidery, fabric painting and tailoring so that they can find jobs based on their skills and escape the cycle of poverty.
 
We organise training programmes for women through Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in our project areas where they are motivated to address the livelihood issues and find alternate income generating models. Embroidery, tailoring and fabric painting have given a new lease of life to these girls and women, who want to develop entrepreneurial skills within 4 months.
Written and Drafted by: CASA Communications Team