The Bold Voice of J&K

Hunar : Vocational Education at Muslim Girl’s Doorstep

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“HUNAR” as a concept evolved under the active guidance of Honourable Chief Minister of Bihar, Mr. Nitish Kumar. The “Hunar” programme under the National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL) of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan was inaugurated by Honourable Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at S.K. Memorial Hall, Patna on 2nd July, 2008 at state level and by then Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh in Delhi on 3rd July, 2008 at national level.
HUNAR is a collaborative project of the Government of Bihar and the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development. It is an innovative and powerful project focusing on Minority Muslim Girls which will have far-reaching ramification in terms of creation of decentralized educational delivery mechanisms. This Programme is totally community based. It encourages a network of educational institutions (Madarasa, Maktabs and Centers run by socio-religious organizations of the Muslim Community) in the minority community neighbourhood, which allows easy access to these young girls in terms of both geographical and socio-religious context, which is acceptable to their families and community. This type of decentralized delivery mechanism has never been attempted on such a large scale. Girls education statistics, particularly among Muslim girls, in Bihar is very low and the Hunar Programme is an intervention that will encourage Muslim girls to join the educational mainstream in the long term. To implement Hunar, Bihar Education Project Council (BEPC) has entered into an agreement with the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), an apex nodal body for distance education in the country. This agreement provided free skill training to about 13768 girls across Bihar, who are either studying in various schools or have dropped out. The seven trades (along with course code identified by BEPC for skill training were 251-Jute Production, 256-Bakery & Confectionary, 401-404-Gram Sakhi (for health care service), 439-441-Early Childhood Care and Education, 442-444-Basic Rural Technology, 612-Beauty Culture, and 705-706-Cutting and Tailoring.
The Hunar scheme has been implemented through three Nodal Agencies in Bihar i.e.Imarat Sharia Educational and Welfare Trust, Edara-e-Sharia and Rahmani Foundation. These 3 are old established socio-religious organizations of the Minority Muslim Community which run schools, Maktabs, Hospitals etc. They have deep penetration in minority dominant areas of the stated and enjoy the trust of the community. Under this scheme NIOS, in consultation with BEPC, has made special provisions for parameters related to infrastructure, fees as well as number of students at study centers (designated as AVIs) run by these nodal agencies. These special provisions were made to facilitate easier accreditation of AVIs for this programme. Hence accreditation for traditional educationally backward institutions, especially Madarsas and Maktabs, was easier. It is envisaged that the skill training of girls will help them in their future areas of work. NIOS provides free course material including Urdu text books under this programme which is useful for most of the girls coming from families living under abject poverty. The BEPC has utilised funds provided by the Government of India (Under SSA through NPEGEL), and the State Government of Bihar for this purpose. This initiative significantly improved the access of Muslim girls to the school level education being provided by the aforesaid eventual accredited centers and encouraged their parents to ensure their enrolment in government schools.
Objective of Hunar Programme
“To mainstream the education of Minority Muslim girls aged 10 year and above into the formal education structure.
“To promote/motivate girls enrolment in School.
“To promote retention in school through the incentive of free vocational training programme.
“To attract the dropouts and bring them back into mainstream education.
“To strengthen girls economically and otherwise through vocational training.
Course Fee and Duration
The course fee and training duration of the selected trades were as :- 251-Jute Production (Rs 2000/-, 6 month), 256-Bakery & Confectionary (Rs 1200/-, 6 month), 401-404-Gram Sakhi (Rs 3500/-, 1 Year), 439-441-Early Childhood Care and Education (Rs 3000/-, 1 Year), 442-444- Diploma in Basic Rural Technology (Rs 3000/-, 6 month), 612-Beauty Culture (Rs 1000/-, 6 Month), and 705-706-Cutting and Tailoring (Rs 2000/-, 6 month).
The process followed in implementing ‘Hunar’ is summarized below.
Stage I: Conception Phase
Bihar Education Project Council (BEPC) after due deliberation identified NIOS as the best suited agency to collaborate for project Hunar. It was envisaged that free of cost skill training/upgradation would be provided to young Muslim girls (10-14 years), who are already enrolled in formal schools of Bihar or have dropped out. The beneficiary group was extended subsequently expanded to cover girls (11-16 years) by BEPC in consultation with the community representatives. The entire cost (in terms of fees and other expenses) of the training incurred by NIOS was to be reimbursed by BEPC. Based on the outcomes of this Pilot Project, its scope would be further enhanced to cover other most deprived sections, in addition to minority Muslim girls, in the next academic session. After the agreement with NIOS, BEPC published an advertisement in the local newspapers of Bihar in the month of February/March 2008 about this project and invited applications from the target group for ” 7 ” selected trades. In response, approximately 15000 applications were received by BEPC. These applications/admission forms were processed by Bihar Education Project Council and subsequently handed over to NIOS, which found that approximately 13768 applications met the criteria and were as per budget available in academic year 2008-09.
Stage-II: Preparatory Stage
The implementation strategy during this stage was jointly worked out by BEPC and NIOS. It was envisaged that suitably located and equipped Educationalinstitutions in Bihar like Madarasas and Maktabs in theneighbourhood or vicinity of these young Muslim girls would be identified and granted accreditation as AVIs of NIOS based on the relaxed revised norms of NIOS. This was a unique and novel implementation strategy which has not been undertaken till now elsewhere. It involved a series of meetings with the religious cum educational leaders of the community for enlisting their active support and collaboration for this project at various levels.
The Process for collaboration was as follows : i.Collaboration of Government of Bihar and Bihar Edu cation Project Council (BEPC) with NIOS, ii.Collaboration with community leaders, educationists and other activists from Civil Society Organization belonging to Muslim community in Bihar for ensuring that the project takes a feasible and concrete shape. For this purpose BEPC was able to identify amongst others, ” 3 ” nodal agencies based on its earlier experience suggested to NIOS, which are leading socio-religious and educational institutions for Muslim community in Bihar viz., Imarat Sharia, Edara-e-Sharia and Rahmani Foundation. These prominent socio-religious organizations of the Muslim community are responsible for running a large number of unit organizations involved in socio-religious, medicare& educational activities at village, block and district level in Bihar and neighbouring states. These are mostly in the form of Madarsas and Maktabs which are controlled & affiliated by these umbrella organizations. They have a very high degree of community acceptance and reach, both in geographical and social terms. Since this was the first time that a central Government Organization (apex vocational training body- NIOS) was making an attempt to create this network at the grassroots level, there was no pre-existing data or baseline information that could be used for the purpose of creation of community based educational network to be used as delivery mechanism for an educational intervention by Government of India and Government of Bihar. A tripartite arrangement was arrived at between NIOS, Nodal Organizations (Imarat Sharia, Edara-e-Sharia and Rahmani Foundation) and Madarsas and Maktabs affiliated and controlled by these nodal organizations, creating an elaborate and complex network of educational institutions at grass root level to act as delivery mechanism for this project. Other remarkable feature of this delivery mechanism is that it comprises socio-religious/educational institutions run and controlled by community in local neighbourhood or vicinity without the participation of government or its institutions at any level. Since, this was a complex task involving collaboration at grassroot level, it required series of meetings and interactive sessions to identify and enlist the support of prominent socio-religious leaders and institutions for this project, which was process oriented and involved people across all levels.
(To be continued)

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