School dropouts make a nation lose its competitive edge globally as it directly has an impact on the future of youth force in the country. If left unattended, the dropouts take up jobs in unorganised sectors as coolies, house-hold assistance and even menial jobs. Some even gradually become socially boycotted. A number of NGOs and even individuals are involved in solving this problem and there are a few more who try to rehabilitate them.

“The root of this problem is highly complex. It ranges from economic to gender issues to cultural identity. Only a systemic change can combat this,” says R. Jayagopal, correspondent, Universal Sevak University Trust (USUT) - IGNOU-ISTE Programme Centre (IIPC).

USUT is an educational trust promoted with the objective of spreading education among the poor, downtrodden, especially school dropout aged 16 years and above.

The trust has joined hands with Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE) to reform the school dropouts and train them in the automobile industry.

The trust has been approved as a IGNOU-ISTE programme centre (IIPC) and is offering four courses, of six-month duration, in automobile engineering.

The courses are (i) automobile basic functions and maintenance; (ii), automobile electrical works, (iii) automobile body repair works and (iv) automobile painting works.

“The courses will help them become self-sustained and to acquire a formal institutionally-approved qualification enabling them to enter the organised sector,” says Mr. Jayagopal. The trust approaches corporation schools and other interested institutions and selects the candidates. In order to develop a co-ordination between the mind and body they are trained in kriyas, pranayama and meditation at the time of induction.

Slowly, they are taught manners, socially acceptable behaviour, dress code and office etiquette.

Car review

As a next step, for the floor session, they are taken to the workshop. Each candidate is put under the tutelage of a technician.

Every week they are also given theoretical sessions about the automobile industry. At the end of the course, each of them is given a car to review.

Their work will be assessed by a team — floor manager, service manager, GM. Once found suitable, they will be placed as an apprentice in DSC Hyundai for six months.

Campus interview

The trust also arranges for a campus interview for the candidates. They invite companies such as Maruti, Ford and Hyundai.

The trust also conducts awareness programmes such as environment, cleanliness, first aid, waste management, traffic rules and regulations, fire safety measures, gardening and sports events for the students. Those who have the inclination and capacity are trained to become service advisors in car sales.

The trust also has a tie up with DSC Motor Private Limited. Incidentally, D. Selvakumar, director service of DSC Motor Private Limited, is the Managing Trustee of USUT and he has assured of providing on-the-job training to these candidates at any of its three service centres in Chennai.

The founder trustee of USUT is 66-year-old, Guruji Acharya Vineyvinekar. Being an engineer by profession, he hails from a family of doctors. With his guidance they are running an IIPC (IGNOU-ISTE).

The trust, so far, has turned out three batches of students and the fourth batch begins on Jan. 19 and will end on June 13.

The trust is located at 48 / 5 Arcot Road, Saligramam.

E-mail: Those interested can contact 99400 87025, 90947 61346.