New curriculum ready for pre-departure training to better protect migrant workersExisting pre-departure orientation training has been questioned for failing to protect workers in foreign labour destinations where they face several challenges, including death and serious injuries.
The government is finally changing the curriculum of pre-departure orientation training, which is mandatory for migrant workers, to make it more beneficial for outbound workers.
The Foreign Employment Board, which works for Nepali migrant workers’ welfare including the orientation training, has completed revising the existing curriculum to make it more timely and comprehensive for protecting those workers.
“Through these new changes, we have incorporated the useful information a migrant worker must have before departure,” said Rajan Prasad Shrestha. “The board meeting has approved the new curriculum and is ready to be implemented soon.”
As per the new additions to the pre-departure orientation training, workers will be made aware of ways to minimise workplace accidents and road accidents and to respond to other risks during their working period. The updated curricula also include chapters on physical and mental health.
“The curriculum aims to minimise any kind of physical or health complications faced by workers. The new curriculum gives information not only on physical but also mental health,” said Shrestha, during a virtual event organised to discuss the effectiveness of the existing orientation training.
“Aspiring migrant workers will be provided with useful information on how to cope with mental stress which they experience working far away from their families and country.”
Every year thousands of workers participate in pre-departure orientation training provided by authorised agencies. The objective of the training is to make workers’ stay comfortable and safe while working abroad. During the training, which goes on for two days, agencies provide necessary information on their safety and various aspects of the destination countries like the culture, tradition, traffic rules and general laws.
However, the effectiveness of the training, which is provided just days before departure, has come under question as Nepali migrants die abroad in large numbers every year.
Nepali workers have been dying in foreign countries due to cardiac arrest, traffic and workplace accidents, suicide and other factors. Many say such deaths could be averted if the pre-departure orientation training prepared them in advance to face such adversity.
“There are at least seven-eight cases of suicide of Nepali workers among the applications which I approve for compensation to be provided for the families of deceased migrant workers. Workplace accidents are also common,” said Shrestha.
“Such deaths raise questions about the effectiveness of pre-departure training, which I agree to a great deal. Workers have died when they returned after working outside under high temperatures and slept in an airconditioned room, showing that we have failed to warn them about this matter.”
Pre-departure training providers also do not claim that the training module has been productive for migrant workers.
Raja Ram Gautam, president of the Federation of Foreign Employment Orientation Association Nepal that represents 155 organisations providing pre-departure training for migrant workers, said his organisation also monitors the quality of the training.
“Agencies are still following the curriculum, which was designed seven years ago. Despite trying our best to provide the required information, there is not enough matter to share with them,” said Gautam.
“While the curriculum materials are outdated, there are several changes, for example, in destination countries’ laws. We have also realised that we have not been able to give them useful knowledge.”
Pre-departure orientation training providers have also been accused of working in collusion with recruiting agencies to issue fake certificates to migrant workers who never attended the training. Trainers have been questioned for their lack of first-hand information on destination countries as they have never visited them.
“All the agencies have CCTV installed and a thumb attendance system, which helps monitor whether the candidate attended the orientation or not,” said Gautam. “Besides, we have also taken trainers on tour of destination countries so that they are informed on those countries.”
The existing orientation module also lacked country-specific information. The new training module will be of a total 12 hours with sessions running for two days.
According to Shrestha, the new course will cover specific countries, their culture, general laws, traffic rules, and prohibited activities.
“Based on the new working procedures and curriculum, we have prepared country-specific training manuals,” said Shrestha. “The new module will not be enforced merely like classroom teaching but will be backed by audio-visual materials.”
The Board has also planned to produce 150 trainers from Provinces 1 and 2 and Bagmati Province for implementing the new curricula.
“The new curriculum will go into implementation in a month,” said Shrestha. “The new courses have been designed with a view to minimising physical damage of migrant workers and increasing their financial benefit.”