Leprosy Mission Skill Development Centre offers free residential skill training to Bihar lepers

Bankura, West Bengal: The Leprosy Mission Skill Development Centre in West Bengal’s Bankura district, 212 km north-west of Kolkata, has offered free residential training to Bihar’s lepers and their children, in courses of electrician, diesel mechanic, welder, and sewing technology, to make them self-employable, said state leprosy officer (SLO) Dr. Vireshwar Prasad.

“Students affected with leprosy or students whose parents are affected with leprosy disability, and girl students with a physical disability, in the age group between 15 and 40 years, are eligible for the free-of-cost Industrial Training Institute (ITI)’s residential National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) with placement program for people affected with leprosy,” said Dr. Prasad.

The course for electricians is for two years for students who have passed class 10. The diesel mechanic, welding, and sewing technology courses are of one-year duration. One had to be a matriculate for the diesel mechanic course and a class 8 pass for welder and sewing technology courses.

Besides offering training free of cost, said the official, said the center extends free board and lodging facilities to lepers or those whose parents are affected by leprosy.

The center has offered to conduct on-spot admission in any district of Bihar having more than five eligible students with leprosy, said an April 26 e-mail, seen by HT, from Vijay Patta, principal-cum-superintendent of the Leprosy Mission, Bankura, to Bihar’s SLO. The center in West Bengal has also offered an incentive of ₹1,000 for volunteers, including accredited social health activists (ASHA) and health workers who refer eligible students for the program.

“Our admissions will continue till July and classes will commence after August 15,” said Nandita Mukherjee, instructor, of sewing technology at the Leprosy Mission, Bankura Centre.

“Our center, which is 24 years old, has been imparting vocational courses free of cost for those either directly afflicted with leprosy or students whose parents are affected by leprosy. For general category (non-leprosy) students, the course is chargeable– ₹ 20,000-course fee for boys and ₹16,000 for girls, besides ₹2,000 per month for the hostel with board and lodging facility,” said Mukherjee. The process for filling up and submission of admission has already begun.

She further said “Most of the students generally come from Muzaffarpur and Raxaul in Bihar and Dhanbad and Bokaro in Jharkhand. Last year we got four students from Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district,” said Mukherjee. The center further provides students with a government-recognized NCVT-ITI certificate from the Ministry of skill development upon successful completion of the course.

District leprosy officers have been communicated about this program and also asked to recommend names of eligible students interested in pursuing the course, said the official.