[Writer: Radha Sinha]
Transforming the future by empowering women
In Assam, women are traditionally hard-working, doing work on the farm, cooking for the family, processing the foods, weaving the cloth, caring for the animals and many other works.
The school and college education being provided to them leaves them with little or no time for learning traditional skills , at the same time, very often, alternate life – skills are not provided to them . They are left to struggle on their own in an alien environment, working in cities for a pittance which utilizes only a fraction of what they are capable of.
Education for women should empower them, enhancing and honing their natural abilities, equipping them to serve the society meaningfully and profitably.Educationists have to be compassionate towards the constraints of the youth and aware of the human resource needs of the society, thus matching them together in harmonious mutually beneficial relationship.
The writer has had a career dedicated to women’s education as Principal of P V Poly technic, SNDT Women’s University. Here are a few insights into women’s education based on her own experiences with students.
The SNDT women’s University started as a small Institution founded by Maharshi Dhondu Keshav Karve in Pune., to provide much- needed educational opportunity for the socially isolated young ladies of upper classes in early 20th century.. Later, Sir Vithaldas Thakersey, a prominent citizen of Mumbai offered a sizeable donation to set it up as a University in Mumbai, dedicated to the education of Women.- SNDT Women’s University.
Dr Madhuriben Shah, the pioneering educationist was VC of SNDT Women’s University and later, Chairperson of University Grants Commission.It was her foresight and deep sympathy for young girls which made her think for them. She understood their needs and their constraints for participation in economic activity.
They had to be provided opportunity to enter technical and professional fields, given all the social and financial constraints.
P V Polytechnic was founded in 1976 based on her vision, as a part of SNDT Women’s University.
In this Institute, girls are admitted after completing 10th std.. into 3- year technical job-specific Diploma courses. The courses have compulsory inbuilt 6-months internship.
So students are well –versed with working in technical positions and have experience of working even before they leave the college.
The polytechnic, functioning since 1976, has been highly successful in its mission. It has transformed ,in the city, the way male employers look upon female employees and the importance given to women in technical fields. With almost 100% success in job-placements, the Polytechnic has become a Human Resource Bank for Industries which are looking for high- quality work-force.
Leading futurists ( people who make calculated predictions) are acknowledging that the future of the world points towards a Feminine Culture.
It is simpler to collaborate than to waste precious resources by competing.
It makes more business- sense to use Soft skills rather than Tech skills!!
In other words, the world is getting Feminized!!
It is proposed now to high-light some niche areas in technical fields which were previously unexplored and in which areas P V Poly students have reached high levels in their Jobs.
Transformation in Food production
Food production is needed for the teeming millions today. Not just more food but Food for All is the aim.
It calls for a change in mind-set It calls for a change to feminine values for the producers as well as the consumers.
Popularizing modified diet requirements for a healthier , more-energy saving life has to be implemented for reducing consumption ,thus reducing wastage of foodstuff and energy wasted in processing.
Behavioral changes like adoption of Vegetarian diet has been recommended by researchers to be more sustainable for the growing world population.
Women can be the transforming forces to bring in these changing patterns.
SNDT Polytechnic has been conducting a diploma course in Food Technology and many alumnii are successful entrepreneurs with a holistic approach to large scale food production.
The Healing Touch
The empowerment of women in the field of healing at the middle level- i.e. at Para-medical level is one of the vital strategies adopted very early as a policy in P V Poly.
Before the girls enter into family life, a choice of courses in P V Poly equips them with professional and practical training in different paramedical fields, and more importantly giving them immense self- confidence and self- reliance to face life’s challenges.
The soft skills of soothing and human touch are as important to healing as medicines. . Doctors ,who were earlier quite skeptical about employing the young students were later pleasantly surprised with the undeniable abilities of their well- trained assistants to handle technical instruments and difficult patients.
The field of Design
Dr Malshekar, the renowned scientist mentioned about Gandhian Engineering . It is the technology which fulfills a real felt need ,a technology simple enough,accessible enough to reach the greatest number of people. Like the Jaipur Foot.
Design grows out of a feeling of compassion and a desire to find a solution for a felt need.
Be it for the Fine Jewellery industries of Gujerat , the garment industries of Tirupur, or the cramped living –working spaces of Mumbai, the students of P V polytechnic work on workable solutions which are long-lastng and a joy to behold.
.The Industries look to the fresh creative young minds to come out to articulate the obvious.The graduates in Design from P V polytechnic having established their reputation two decades ago, have been leading the world of Fashion with the
charm and candor which comes naturally to them.
Education for the women of Assam.
Women’s education in Assam has a long way to yet.
Young people have to be given a choice of a variety of courses based on the human resource requirements perceived by the experts thinkers and visionary educationists.
At present very few courses are focused on women.
Masculine values forced upon them have often misled them. Women have to be given skills to lead a fruitful and satisfying life in the twenty-first century world. Educationists have to evolve courses based on needs of the society, keeping in mind the nature of the female psyche and capacity of the parents to provide for them. There is no ready-made solution. Every place is different .