While education is necessary to alleviate poverty in the discriminating rural society, the job market is skewed towards students from advantaged backgrounds. Added office-skills like computer-knowledge, foreign languages, and proficiency in Spoken-English and basic accounting can help them fairly compete with other applicants.
In April 2012, RDT set up the Professional School to enable the rural poor to realise a better, more purposeful future, get employed in metros, or other Indian cities, and help their families climb out of poverty.The school was started to address the issue of underemployment in villages located in and around Ananthapuram and Kurnool districts. It was observed that students, despite completing even college education, lacked employment opportunities due to low competency levels in communication, language and inter-personal skills. The school targets youth aged 21-25 years and takes in a batch of 40 students at a time- most of whom have never been outside ofAnanthapuram district – and equips them with office-ready skills outside of the purview of main-stream courses.The school is equipped with a canteen, air-conditioned computer lab with 24-hour net connectivity and 16 terminals, 3 classrooms with presentation facilities, a photocopying centre and stationery store and a reference library with audio-video facilities and a newspaper reading room.
Students are housed in a well-appointed 45-bed dormitory with a common room having recreational facilities such as a TV, computers, projectors and speakers.
This batch undergoes a 1-year residential training in English communication, computer skills, basic accountancy skills,and an additional foreign language – French, Spanish or German. The school also takes learning out of the classroom with games, seminars, and interactive discussions with well-employed alumni and visitors (Indian and International) from various fields to help round-off their speaking and interaction skills. The idea is not only to make them office-ready, but also to expose them to a wider range of people than they have been used to interacting with and develop their personalities. Students are also sensitised to the importance of compassion, gender-neutrality and fair-play through the course, since these are values that go beyond the workplace.
The teaching and administrative staff meet regularly to assess and discuss each student’s progress. Today the school is aligned with other recognised institutes like Goethe Institute, Alliance Française and Institute of Foreign Language and Culture (IFLAC) and in its few years of existence, has already opened doors to many students that they could not have opened on their own.
Summary of batch performance
All-boys first batchof 27 opted for Spanish, and 13 for French. They were made to interact with volunteers and professionals from different fields who supplemented their classroom studies with cultural exchange interactions.
All-girls second batchwas given additional German and Basic Accounting to its course offerings based on student feedback, and most were absorbed into corporate jobs with reputed MNCs.
After another all-boys’ batch, the school presently completedits 4th batch of 56 girls finished their course. of these 56 girls, it is heartening to know that 20 of them are Persons with Disabilities (PWDs)
RDT and DKV Integralia
A significant partnership forged in 14-15 has been the one with DKV Integralia, a Spanish non-profit organization to facilitate employment and social integration of PWDs. In the beginning, the main focus was to train PWDs to work in BPOs or call centres +and to find them related job placements. But the relationship has now expanded to include interview skills for students and the development of synergies with multinational companies which may eventually recruit from The Professional School.
176 students completed their course through the Profession School in 2015-16, of which 80 were men and 96 women
81 students secured jobs in 2014-15, 46 men and 35 women
136 secured jobs in 2015-16, 78 men and 58 women.
Senior managerial heads from T.C.S., a leading Indian IT company, addressed the students through lectures and discussions about corporate life.
Visitors were also received from other organisations and institutions like Apollo Health Insurance, Delhi College and Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
In 2014-15, the school calendar was designed according to, and conducted term examinations following the syllabus based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and its different levels (from A1 to B1).
The school has started a regular programme focusing on Life or Soft Skills with the help of two psychologists and an actor as volunteers.
The Alliance Françaisekoche institute by IFCACin Bangalore has given a special concession fee for RDT Professional School’s French, German, Spanish language students for A2 level exams and B1 level exams.
“When I came to Ananthapuram to first start teaching on a part-time basis at The Professional School, I had no idea what to expect. Each of them comes from a background different to ours, from the western world. It may seem unimaginably hard and harsh to get acquainted with each other. Now I know better, these children value the chances they are given and work harder than any students I have ever met. The curriculum is designed in a manner that enables them to develop self-confidence and execute their learning, conduct self-analysis, and understand deadlines. I am so glad that what we do here improves their prospects for a better future”
Patricia Verdugo, Course Co-ordinator, Professional School, RDT
“I belong to BC (Dudekula) community, and was brought up in poor living conditions. My father worked very hard to support our family and had to do extra labour work in Uravakonda town.
I studied in Government schools and college, achieving a degree in B. Com., where my education was conducted free of cost and language medium was Telugu. In my village many would oppose to my education and advise my father to stop my education and get me married. But my parents provided their support and never stopped me from continuing my education.
However, our family and financial situation was getting worse as we were in debt and despite having education, I was dependent on them. I could not get job due to lack of communication skills and lack of fluency in English. One day, I met one of the staff at RDT who told me about the Professional Language School. That was my turning point.
I studied Spanish for one year at RDT Professional School of Foreign Languages and I applied and got selected as a Customer Service Translator for a multinational company in Pune, and working for Genpactcompany in Hyderabad.Thanks to RDT for their huge support in helping me achievethis success, my parents are immensely proud of me and I have the confidence to take on any challenge and rise to any level through my own hard work and competence.” D. Jubeda Begum, Raketla village, UravakondaMandal.
Poor and lower-caste people’s vision for their future used to be limited to either labour or menial office jobs. Education and steady counselling to dream big have removed those limits, and whole families and communities are better off today.