Fri, Dec 9, 2016 | updated 10:53 PM IST

Skill transforms lives of tribal youth

Updated: Jul 22, 2016 12:13 IST

Dumka (Jharkhand), July 22 (ANI): Francis Murmu hailing from a village in Masaliya block of Jharkhand's Dumka district is from an agricultural family. His village does not have electricity and yet Francis enrolled for a course in Electrical Appliances at the Lahanti Institute of Multiple Skills (LIMS) established in March 2015.

The irony not withstanding what drives the young people like Francis, living in the underdeveloped tribal belt of santhal paragana, is simply hope. Hope for a better future and a burning desire to break the cycle of poverty that has dogged this land and its people for generations.

"In the beginning, I was nervous working on electrical applications, but today I make solar panels," says Francis.

There are several other young people, who have been forced to discontinue their education due to poverty and lack of access to information and skills that could lift them out of their morass.

Kavita Mumru, who could not continue studies after clearing her Standard XII, took up a course in office management following which she able to find a job. Rakesh Soren, who faced a similar situation and opted for computer applications, is hopeful of getting a job so that he is able to help his family.

Baha Hembram, the eldest of four siblings, coming from a poor family is ambitious. She is keen to acquire skills in banking, insurance and finance. Multiple skills mean wider professional openings for this young tribal girl.

Another young woman Mary Hembram, who had a job, decided to expand her skill base and took time off to enroll in a course in office management. Today, Mary has an impressive profile combining skills in computers as well as office management.

All these young lives have been given direction towards a brighter and more secure future due to the efforts of an NGO Evangelical Social Action Forum (ESAF), which has been working for empowerment of the poor and marginalised communities for years.

LIMS has been their brainchild, the name symbolizing the spirit of 'Lahanti' or 'Development 'in the local tribal dialect.

"Our programme focuses on tribal children who mainly because of poverty, are out of school. We provide them with skills so that they can earn a livelihood, says Jesova, Principal, LIMS.

New skills mean job opportunities or the ability to create self employment. The courses have been designed to cater to the job market and cover wide-ranging areas such as office management, financial service, electronics, electrical appliances, photography, videography, fashion designing and computer applications.

At a fee of Rs. 3,700, these residential courses signify an opening into the wider professional spheres for the LIMS has linked up with several organisations such as V Guard and SANMA, garment factory that is run by ESAF to secure placements.

Ajith Sen, Deputy Chief Manager, ESAF, says the students do not face a problem finding placements on completing the course.

Depending on their specific skills and its demand in the job market, several young people have found jobs at salaries ranging from Rs. 5,000-12,000.

In the period since its launch, the LIMS has turned out around 120 youth and propelled them towards sustainable livelihoods. The initiative has demonstrated how skill development can transform the lives of impoverished youth otherwise devoid of professional opportunities.

There has been a lot of attention given at the level of national policy to skill development and this has been a core agenda of the NDA government. The key to unlocking the vast potential of India's youth seems to lie here. This overall vision and policy thrust has found resonance in several states including Jharkhand.

The Jharkhand Government under its Department of Labour, Employment, Training and Skill Development has established the Jharkhand Skill Development Mission Society. This aims at providing skills training to unemployed youth, enabling them to find employment or become self-employed.

The LIMS has been trying within its limited sphere to do this. It obviously plugs into a core need of youth in this tribal region to equip themselves with skills and transform themselves into professionals.

Many more initiatives like this are needed to tap into the latent capabilities of the youth not only in the santhal paragana, but across Jharkhand and open out new avenues for them.

The Charkha Development Communication Network feels that with a conducive policy framework for this in place, the sky could be the limit. (ANI)