The West Bengal government has taken up a special programme to train dropout schoolgirls to make them independent and earn livelihood. The number is especially in backward areas of Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram, Midnapore and Birbhum.
While probing the reasons why some girls were not benefiting from the state’s widely praised Kanyashree scheme, officials found that they had dropped out of schools due to certain social and family-related issues. Neither were they keen on going to school even when necessary arrangements were made for them by the government.
The Kanyashree scheme – a flagship program of the Bengal government – has helped prevent child marriage and boosted education of girls. The programme aims to empower girls by offering them funds only if they complete school education, thereby preventing the families from marrying them off without educating them. Over 63 lakh girls have benefitted till now through this scheme.
Those outside Kanyashree are now being brought into this programme through special training programmes to help them earn money. A meeting was held recently between the officials of these districts and the state’s department of planning & statistics.
It was decided there that girls in the 15-18 years age group would be included in the program. Efforts would be made to impart vocational training to these girls. If they don’t show interest in that, then they would be referred to skill development training program.
School girls from these areas are thus being trained in handicraft work such like making hats, table mats, wall mats and many other articles of household use and home decor from sabai grass (more commonly known as babui grass in Bengal). They are also being trained in weaving tussar silk sarees and spinning thread to make cotton sarees.
Officials involved in the programme said that the girls are able to take up the training within a short period of time and can earn Rs. 10,000 a month. The government is helping them market the products and get them new orders for handcrafted articles.