Education alone can do little if not linked with the means of realising its potential. The BETI Foundation has been consistently working in the remotest and poorest areas of Uttar Pradesh for promoting education and sustainable livelihoods of adolescent girls as a prudent strategy for combating poverty. The Common Minimum Programme (CMP) lays emphasis on the empowerment of women as an important socio-economic goal. The UN Human Development Report for 2004 notes that considerable work still needs to be done by governments and other bodies along with the community for raising the status of women. At the gram panchayat level, much needs to be done to emancipate women and give them access to employment.
BETI believes that building an independent means of livelihood for women will not only raise the economic status of family, but would also reduce the negatives of gender discrimination, early marriage and all kinds of gender discrimination, abuse and violence. The Foundation is also broadening livelihood opportunities for the whole community through various needs responsive and relevant interventions.
Vocational Training Centres (VTCs)
Livelihood trainings are a part of education process in all programmes of BETI, the skill trainings for livelihood are combined at Vocational Learning Centres (VTCs) with ALCs. After completion of six month of basic education at the ALCs, the girls are trained in vocational skills to earn their livelihoods.
The girls at VTCs are trained in various skills, as:
- Cutting and stitching
- Chikankari and other forms of embroidery, i.e., Zardozi, Kaamdaani, etc.
- Better Agro-forest based micro-enterprises, processing of spices, pickle making, etc.
In all of the above at the initial stage itself, availability of raw material and marketing outlets are explored and ensured.
Training on wire bushes, candle-making, pickles, baskets, coasters, hand-made fans, crochet and spices are also conducted, based on local need assessment.
The VTCs run for 18 months. The whole period is divided into 3 terms, each comprising of 6 months. The curriculum of VTCs is also divided on the basis of the terms:
- First term: Basic Education
- Second term: Vocational Training
- Third term: Apprenticeship and formation of SHGs. Formation of SHG includes thrift and credit, simple accountancy, leadership and group dynamics
The past experiences shows that in the absence of skill learning activities, the girls and the community start losing their interest in the first six months of the VTCs and this affects the continuity and retention of girls at the centres. Therefore, the first two terms, i.e., Basic Education and Vocational Training have been combined which has helped in maintaining the interest of girls and the community in the activity of the centres.
BETI has received accredit ion from National Institute of Open School (NIOS), under which certification can be done at ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ levels. ‘A’ level certificate is provided for up to class 3 level, ‘B’ level for up to class 5 level and ‘C’ level for up to class 8 level. The certification along with the Basic Education Curriculum also covers the Vocational Training. Thus, BETI has created new avenues for the VTC girls by guiding them to appear in NIOS exams and receiving a certificate, depending upon their acquired learning levels.
- VTCs not only train the girls in vocational skills but also groom their personality by building confidence and providing them opportunities for leadership development, group dynamics and socialisation.
- BETI established 46 VTCs under its current interventions, imparting training to 1,380 girls.
- The Chikan work produced at VTCs is marketed by SEWA, Lucknow. The girls are paid regularly and this has a tremendous impact on their lives.