Giving underprivileged youth a shot at life

The DSEU Lighthouse centre in Kalkaji offers students a platform to learn and earn

Published - August 02, 2022 10:08 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisoida interacts with students at the inauguration of the DSEU Lighthouse centre at Malka Ganj.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisoida interacts with students at the inauguration of the DSEU Lighthouse centre at Malka Ganj. | Photo Credit: File photo

Usha, a resident of a JJ Colony in Kalkaji, finished her Class XII from a Delhi government school in 2019 but the COVID-19 pandemic cut short her dreams. Far from pursuing her studies or looking for a suitable job, she was forced to resort to selling masks on the street and take up other odd jobs to make ends meet.

As the household’s financial situation progressively got dire, she faced the inevitable family pressure to get married and lost her confidence and self-belief. Ms. Usha’s fortunes, however, turned when she signed up for the course being offered by the Delhi Skill and Entrepreneurship University (DSEU) centre that opened in her colony on March 9.

“I had virtually given up on my dreams of studying further when I signed up for the DSEU’s skill training foundation course. Three months later, I have a job in a tele-calling company. The pay may not be enough to move out of the slums but it does help me support my family,” she said.

Increasing employability

Like Ms. Usha, 32 other students have got employment in sectors such as sales, accounts, human resources as well as on-the-job training as nursing assistants after doing a foundation course at the DSEU’s centre in Kalkaji.

The DSEU partnered with Lighthouse, a Pune-based NGO, to provide higher education at institutions situated within the slums free of cost. Apart from the Kalkaji centre, there is another one at Malka Ganj and the DSEU plans to open two more at Patparganj and Matia Mahal. The aim is to upskill those from low-income communities in the age group of 18-30 and make them employable.

Shefali Gupta, the Kalkaji centre head, said the course at the DSEU Lighthouse is structured such that the students first get to do a three-month foundation course to better understand their aptitude and then choose a skill-based course at the centre or look for employment. The skill-based courses range from three to six months.

“Out of the 179 students that completed their foundation course, 32 have been employed. The rest are continuing to pursue skill-based courses and will seek employment thereafter,” Ms. Gupta said.

‘Students studying at the centre say that it is a good starting point but are sceptical of their job prospects vis-a-vis those who pursue full-fledged degrees from mainstream institutions.

Allaying such fears, a DSEU spokesperson said it is important to understand that students coming from impoverished backgrounds do not have a linear journey. “The foundation course is about enabling agency and realising their own strengths. Students who successfully completed it have shown better retention, and resilience to overcome the challenges. However, it is a continuous process and needs constant hand-holding and mentoring,” the spokesperson said.

Some of the skill modules that students have taken up include Office Executive, Certified Nursing Care, Python, and Beauty & Wellness; one has the option of working part-time while completing these courses.

Aditya, another student at the Kalkaji centre, said his family’s financial situation is such that he would rather study and work simultaneously. “Having the option of doing a part-time job while doing some skill courses here helps.”

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