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August 11, 2018

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VTIs closure deprives thousands of students of training

VTIs closure deprives thousands of students of training

Islamabad : Over 110,000 poor students will not be able to acquire job skills this year owing to abrupt closure of dozens of vocational training institutes (VTIs) across the Punjab, The News has learnt.

The Punjab Vocational Training Council (PVTC) that was training about 200,000 students annually in dozens of job trades until June 2018 has closed about 64 technical schools citing a lack of funds.

According to a top official of PVTC, over 80 percent trainees of its institute are able to acquire a job or start their own business after passing out. However, the move has left more than 110,000 out of these schools.

During its election campaign, the upcoming government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had promised to provide 10 million jobs to Pakistanis but the task will be almost impossible if the technical training institutes would not be able to train skilled workers for those jobs.

The Supreme Court has already taken a suo motu notice of termination of hundreds of teachers working in these vocational institutes on daily wages and the case is expected to be heard by the apex court after the formation of a new government in the Punjab.

“Yes, we have closed these schools because our funding has been reduced from Rs4 billion to Rs900 million and a special project of the Chief Minister aimed at training about 500,000 students have been completed,” Bushra Nawaz, the Manager PR and Marketing of PVTC, told The News.

She said the management of PVTC had written a letter to the previous government seeking guidance on continuity of the chief minister’s project namely the Punjab Growth Project, but the response was to wait for the next government.

“We could not sustain these schools without funds. The teachers that have been fired were hired on contract basis and their contracts ended in June 2018,” Bushra said.

She said prior to funding cut there were 348 school out of which 64 had been closed down but about 284 vocational training institute were still functioning across the Punjab, training more than 80,000 students annually.

However, according to sources, the PVTC has cut down staff and courses at a number of other institutes across the Punjab, depriving poor students of the much needed training.

In Murree, the PVTC was training 125 poor female students (dress making, computer operations, beauty courses and embroidery) in a remote village of Alliot. The institute had been operating since 2014 and every year more than 100 students were graduating.

These skills were enabling these poor students who were deserving of Zakat to be able to get a job or start their own work.

However, this changed in June this year and now three out of four teachers have been fired leaving the purpose-built government facility mostly unused. Only two trades continue at the facility for about 60 students.

Bushra admitted that Alliot School faced a significant cut this year but claimed that it happened because lesser number of students had applied for admission. However, locals told The News that the institute had refused to admit students this year quoting a lack of funds.

But the lack of funds did not prevent the PVTC from hiring dozens of managers at its Lahore headquarters. About 20 highly paid managers are listed at the official website of PVTC (http://www.pvtc.gop.pk/ManagementTeam.aspx) .

Bushra admitted that over 60 people worked at the PVTC Lahore office but she claimed that the management team and staff was required to complete tasks assigned to the PVTC.

She said funding for the PVTC was provided through the government Zakat funds and it had seen a massive cut after the 18th Amendment as provinces use their own collection of Zakat.

Bushra said the closed institute could be re-opened on the orders of the Supreme Court if funding for PVTC was restored to the level of previous year.

PVTC was established in October 1998 on the basis of public private partnership by the Punjab government.

According to its official website, PVTC is utilizing Zakat funds for poverty alleviation on the principle of dole out to pay roll by providing demand driven skill training to deserving youth specially Mustahqeen–e–Zakat on their doorstep, involving the private sector to enhance employability and assist the graduates in their placement for permanent rehabilitation and arranging financial support for their self-employment from Micro Finance Institutions and NGOs.

It claims that PVTC is a unique model of its kind in the entire Muslim World, which utilizes Zakat as a tool of skills and economic empowerment as conceived by the Punjab chief minister during his first tenure in 1998.

It has pioneered way to channel Zakat funds to support an effective model of vocational training for permanent rehabilitation of the poorest youth of our society.

According to EEA, USAID and IYF case study, the PVTC has done a remarkable job of improving access to training and employment for boys and girls who lacked financial resources to receive vocational/technical training.

Keeping in view the latest trends based on market demands through Training Need Assessment (TNA) after conducting demographics survey at tehsil level, the PVTC has developed curricula for 81 various trades to cater for the growing demands of industrial, agriculture, health and service sectors. Apart from their regular vocational study & practical work, Life Skills and Social Entrepreneurship courses are compulsory for each trainee.

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