Two years ago,Aman Deep and Nirmal Kaur were like any other housewives in Badali Ala Singh in Punjab. Now they stand out. Reason: they are successfully running a self-help group of 12 women,who stitch,embroider,and earn Rs 5,000 every month.
The two women were among 60 participants,from seven villages in Punjab,who attended a retraining programme for rural and unorganised sector workers,organised by the Central Board for Workers Education (CBWE) here on Monday. These workers have been sponsored by their village panchayats to attend the programme in Chandigarh and their transportation costs and honorary stipend of Rs 100 have been paid by CBWE. Aman and Nirmal have attended seven such programmes in the last two years,from where,they say,the idea of starting a self-help group in the village took root.
Additionally,two education officers from the board visit and organise seminars at the village level from time to time. Our major thrust is to educate the working class,the management and the trade unions. We work in coordination with Jan Shikshan Sansthan that focuses on technical education while we focus on behavioural training,imparting human values and positive thinking in rural workers along with methods for self-generation of funds, says Karnail Singh,an education officer with CBWE.
Under the aegis of Ministry of Labour and Employment,the board organised six programmes in different villages last month. In the last four months,CBWE has completed 42 of the total of 174 allotted programmes for the year. These include special programmes for women workers,child labour,parents of child labour and SC/ST workers.
For the first half of the year,the board concentrated on programmes for the organised sector,paid by the industries themselves,as these helped them generate funds for the unorganised sector programmes. For this month,though,ample funds have arrived and the board has also recruited two education officers. They will be joining in six months after undergoing training at the Indian Institute of Workers Education in Mumbai.
We inform the workers about their rights and duties and various welfare schemes run by the Centre and state for them. We get in touch with welfare organisations and encourage them to hold training sessions in these villages, says Malkit Ram,regional director of CBWE.
He says Ludhiana,Amritsar and Jalandhar have been identified as child labour-prone areas in Punjab and,in association with National Child Labour Projects,around 900 students have been admitted so far in schools where they are provided free books and midday meals and a stipend of Rs 100 is deposited in their account every month.