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March 23, 2018

Community colleges : Adding skills to non formally educated citizens to become part of the economy

Nagpur : Sangita Bhaskar (33) and Kavita Chokandare (28), both married, had little scope of getting a job or starting some business of their own since neither had they studied after failing in SSC exam nor honed any skill. Adding to their financial woes, they belonged to a hamlet near Khadgaon, off Amravati Road, where prospects of finding employment, especially for women, are limited, unless they move to the city, which was not an option.

Giving a ray of hope to many like Sangita, Kavita and jobless graduates, the Community College of Technology & Research (CCTR) started imparting courses based on local need, talent and skill around six years back.

On Wednesday afternoon, 150 students, including Sangita and Kavita, were awarded certificates during a felicitation ceremony, which the college preferred to call its sixth convocation.

Among the items showcased at the convocation were a refrigerator made of mud, handbags from old jeans, handmade decoration articles, and artificial jewellery made by students. The products were the result of a one-year certificate courses run by the college for marginalized people of nine surrounding villages.

It’s not the typical university affiliated institute offering job-oriented courses. The courses are designed and started as per the need and demand of the villagers. Today, Sangita and Kavita are no longer worried of a financial crunch at home. “We have learnt to stitch clothes and sewing one suits earns us Rs100 at a time. The college also taught other skills, but tailoring suits us best,” said Sangita, who has two daughter with her husband, who works at a tyre shop.

Kavita, who has two sons with her husband, a driver, acquired cookery skills and won the best recipe award recently.

The CCTR is spread over a sprawling 54 acres at Khadgaon and run by NGO Mission India. It started with 60 students in the first batch and now boasts of 200 students on a rolling basis. The courses offered by the college are primarily aimed at honing job or entrepreneurial skills, and are open to all.

“Our motto is to educate, train and transform the marginalized community for employability and empowerment. It’s basically a village uplift project,” said director AN Radha.

Radha, former principal of Women’s Technical Education and Research Institute, undertook the project after retirement. “It is my passion to work in rural areas. I am following the principles of APJ Abdul Kalam and Mahatma Gandhi. They said villages are the backbone of the country. The former vice chancellor of Nagpur University Bhalchandra Chopne had conducted a workshop, which provided me the spark to start this initiative,” she said.

She added that many people of the country are still not fully educated and there is a need for more community colleges. “This institute is for the community, by the community and of the community,” she said.

Besides Radha, college chairman GS Natarajan, CS Thorat, RG Chouksey, members Rashmi Batra, Rajesh Sontakke, Nutrition Society of India’s local office bearer Neelima Joshi and Vijaykant were present at the convocation.

Note: News shared for public awareness with reference from the information provided at online news portals.

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