Local unit offers skills-based education to studentsThe Manigram-based Shanti Model Secondary School runs mechanical engineering courses to prepare students for an employable future.
Seventeen-year-old Bimal Khamchak from Shitganga Municipality in Arghakhanchi district has been living in Rupandehi for the past five months. He attends the Manigram-based Shanti Model Secondary School where he is enrolled for a mechanical engineering diploma.
The vocational course is preparing him for a job that is based on manual activities, outside of his academics. The course has helped him earn some money while learning the skill, says Khamchak.
“I translate my theoretical knowledge into building things,” said Khamchak. “I have made desks, benches and stools so far. I even built a gate and learnt how to make barbed wires. I receive pre-orders from individual households to offices. I thus earn around Rs2,000 per month. Though this does not meet all my expenses, the money helps me cover some.”
Khamchak says he has learnt to do metal works using machinery. “This course has enabled me to seek employment. This skill training is helpful for a lot of students like me who want to get started on the career path early in life,” he said. “We not only get theoretical knowledge in class but also learn to operate machines and build things. Our coursework is 20 percent theory and 80 percent practice.”
Khamchak is hopeful about a safe future.
“I decided to study a technical subject since these skills last a lifetime,” he said. He is optimistic about getting work or initiating his own business soon after the mechanical engineering course is completed.
Shanti Model Secondary School, in coordination with the Tilottama Municipality, initiated the ‘learning and earning’ programme last year after the federal government instructed the local unit to introduce the programme in those community schools that provide technical education. The school has since been running 18-month, 24-month and 1,695-hour-long courses.
Students Hum Kanta Chaudhary and Raj Kumar Chaudhary of Ramgram Municipality in Nawalparasi (West) are also happy to get the chance to study technical subjects.
The two friends make around Rs4,000 collectively by selling items they build for the coursework. “We have rented a room paying Rs3,000 monthly. Our earnings help us cover the accommodation cost which would otherwise have been a huge burden for us,” said Hum Kanta.
According to him, he first enrolled in grade 11 at a local school after completing his School Education Examinations (SEE). But he quit his studies there and joined Shanti Model Secondary School for the mechanical engineering course.
The students learning mechanical engineering hope to find work easily after completing the course. “Many people are unemployed and go abroad for work. We can do something in Nepal after honing our skills,” said Raj Kumar. “I was encouraged to study mechanical engineering after my seniors told me that employment opportunities are easy to come by if I am skilled in this field.”
According to Ganesh Parajuli, the ‘learning and earning’ programme has been launched for students pursuing an 18-month mechanical engineering course. “A total of 21 students are enrolled in the 18-month course in the current academic session [although there are 40 seats]. We should inform both the students and their guardians that technical skills open the door to several employment opportunities in our own country,” said Parajuli.
The education unit at Tilottama Municipality allocated Rs1 million to Shanti Model Secondary School to launch the ‘learning and earning’ programme in the current fiscal year. “We issued the budget as per the instruction of the Centre. It will be continued in the future,” said Gangaram Acharya, chief of the municipality’s education unit.
“We will run a campaign to inform guardians and students of the benefits,” said Kul Prasad Lamichhane, principal of the school. “But we have a long way ahead because when we visited various wards in Rupandehi urging people to send their children to our school for technical education, there weren’t many takers.” A student pays Rs30,000 for the course.
According to Khamchak, his parents are happy with his decision to learn mechanical engineering. “They understand what I am learning has good prospects,” he said. “We are engaged in a learning-by-doing approach from 10am to 4pm every school day.”