Project: Computer Tech Centre (Manthan yuva Kendra)
Location: Vadodara City, Gujarat
Tech Training for Young Women
In India, many adolescent girls drop out of school, lacking marketable job skills and self-confidence. It’s known that early intervention helps girls fight back against these challenges. Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan) literally means “friend,” and this organization is dedicated to helping adolescent girls gain a technical education. Sahiyar established its Computer Tech Centre in late 2014, and IDS provided funding beginning in 2016.
Sahiyar organizes computer training with an objective of eradicating gender discrimination in the technical sector. Some of the girls enrolled at the Computer Tech Centre are school drop-outs, while others still attend school. Sahiyar realized that any training offered for free attracts participants initially; later on, however, the drop-out rate tends to be high. Sahiyar believes that fees help students appreciate the value of the training and encourage them not to give up. Fee payment is not a precondition for computer training, however; if a girl cannot afford the fee and she is genuinely interested in learning about computers, she is offered a fee waiver.
In the beginning, local languages like Hindi and Gujarati are used instead of English for computer instruction. This year, girls were trained in touch typing and use of the Internet; in addition, they learned the basics of computer hardware and became familiar with some Microsoft programs and movie-making software.
Along with the computer curriculum, a range of other Sahiyar programs are offered. For example:
- Girls participated enthusiastically in a local folk dance (Garba) program during Hindu festival season. Non-Hindu girls were included for the first time.
- In November, girls went on an educational tour to Gujarat Science City in Ahmedabad. Among other attractions, Science City hosts an IMAX 3D theatre, an energy park, and a hall of science; the facility is part of a government initiative to attract more students to a science education.
- Every Saturday, a discussion on social and current issues is held, and in this setting, girls are free to raise issues and ask questions of their own. To facilitate the discussion of current events, a newspaper-reading exercise is also part of this program.
- English is taught every Wednesday. The objective is to improve students’ skills in reading, writing, and vocabulary. Gaining facility in English also helps boost the girls’ self-confidence.
These activities result in real cases of girls learning not only computer skills to prepare them for jobs and a better tomorrow—Sahiyar programs also help participants learn how to talk to strangers, stand up against injustice, speak in public, assert gender equality, and appreciate people from other religions and castes. Sahiyar provides a place where girls can come together, express their views, discuss, debate, and understand issues affecting their day-to-day life, and make friends who can support them.
IDS Coordinator: Prashant Parikh
Project Manager: Deepali Ghelani
–2016 IDS annual report