A computer hub at a city police station might sound odd. But the Vasant Vihar police station in South Delhi has opened its gates to underprivileged students from nearby slums to be trained in computer literacy. The students are mostly school dropouts or were child labourers at some point of time and stay in crime-prone colonies.
The initiative is a collaboration between the Vasant Vihar police station and voluntary organisation ‘We the People’.
While the police station provides infrastructure like computer lab, desks and chairs, We the People — affiliated to justrojgar.com — provides instructors, who take computer classes in two shifts, one in the morning and the other in the evening.
Anil Sharma, SHO Vasant Vihar police station, says it was not an easy task to mobilise and convince the youth, some of whom were found to be indulging in petty crimes, that there were alternative means to earn a living. Once convinced that it was better to learn some skills than indulge in illegal activities, many agreed to join the classes.
According to CEO of We the People, Ajaya Mohapatra , apart from equipping them for entry-level data entry operators’ job, the students, most of whom are between 17 to mid-20s, are trained in accounting and computing software like making salary slips and acquainted with financial literacy, including various banking services during the three-month course.
“Our objective is to ensure that they are not just given certificates after three months, but are trained and equipped to get jobs. We also provide placement assistance after training and even post-placement services, says Mr. Mohapatra.
The students have to pay a nominal fee of Rs 1,500 for the entire course, much less than the cost of the commercial course. Mr. Mohaptara says the fee is charged to ensure that only those who are serious about learning and a career come for the training. Also there are limited resources. He says that so far 84 students have received certificates and claims that 19 of them have been able to land jobs.
Sumit, one of them, said that though he is trained in computer operating and software relating to accounting, he was offered a salesman’s job. He decided to continue his studies instead and left the job. Reena, too, was offered a job in marketing which she could not take up. While some of the students are continuing with their studies after completing the course, others have either got jobs or are waiting for proper placement. Apart from State Bank of India, ICICI and some other multinational companies have shown interest in employing these youths. Mr. Sharma says IIT-Delhi and some more companies have offered to provide jobs.
Manu and Ashok, residents of coolie colony and students of Class XII and X respectively, are presently taking the computer course. They are hopeful that once they pass out from school and equipped with the training here, they will be able to get good jobs. Jyoti, who is also taking the classes, says she feels safe here. She has learnt to make salary slips and with little more practice, she is confident that she, too, will find some good placement.
In another initiative, the Vasant Kunj police station has tied up with Bhaatkhande Sangeet Vidyalaya to teach vocal and instrumental music and dance to children living in nearby slum clusters. Ten boys and 13 girls from Kusumpur Pahadi area have started taking the music and dance lessons twice a week at the vidyalaya. The police are providing transport for pick up and drop as well as musical instruments. Deputy Commissioner of Police (South), B.S. Jaiswal, says that the training will instil confidence in these children. He adds that the youngsters will also be given opportunities for public performances.
All these efforts by the police are under the scheme ‘Yuva’ that aims at not only weaning away the youth from crime in slum clusters but to provide them a platform and facilities to learn skills to earn a livelihood. The most important objective, says Mr. Jaiswal, is to mainstream them by instilling confidence and self esteem in them.