Dhaka, Bangladesh
Platform for empowering girls

Platform for empowering girls

Kalyani was late for catching the bus. Missing it was a big deal as it would mean she would miss her driving class, something she did not want to do. Kalyani (name changed) is currently pursuing her undergraduation at Providence College for Women in Coonoor, a small town in the Nilgiris. Her parents are daily wage earners and she is the first in her family to go to college. Sr. Sheela VJ, principal, Providence College, said that a majority of students come from a lower-middle class background and many of them are the daughters of daily wage earners. The college is located in a rural area and empowers girls from the villages around as well as other districts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. What makes the undergraduation programme meaningful for these girls are the job-oriented certificate courses that the college offers. These courses are designed to train the girls for immediate employment after graduation. The certificate courses are in Nursing Care, Yoga and Fitness, Interior Design, Journalism, Travel and Tourism, Beautician, Spoken English, Motor Driving, Numerical Aptitude, Hindi, French, Fashion Designing, Vermi-Composting and Computer (MS Office, Web Designing and MS Access, Visual Basics). The parents of these girls have already made a great sacrifice in sending them to college and are not in a position to spend more money on postgraduation or for additional training, which is required to land a job these days. With this thinking in mind, the college included job-oriented certificate courses in the curriculum ten years ago. Sr. Sheela said it is mandatory that every student takes at least two of these certificate courses. Journalism and travel and tourism are the most popular courses among students, says Sheela. Students who have taken the certificate course in nursing care were able to get jobs as home nurses, who are in great demand these days. The classes in spoken English and Hindi help the girls who come from vernacular medium schools, she explains. The driving classes are held in association with two local driving schools and help is given to the students to get a licence. This is a morale booster for the girls who come from the lower economic strata where they have no access to a vehicle. It also comes in handy when the girl applies for a sales job. Stephina C John, a second-year student of MA Literature, said that there are also coaching classes for Bank and Civil Services Exams as well as for Tally, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool. Recently, Providence College created a world record by distributing 50,000 vegetable saplings to the people of the district. The exercise was undertaken to create awareness about organic farming, vermi-composting and the importance of growing vegetables. The entire exercise was an eye opener for both students as well as the public. Stephina said that the sapling distribution was to promote healthy food habits and to help people be in harmony with nature. Providence College, the first women's college in the Nilgiris, was recently graded A by NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council). Besides the regular undergraduate courses, the college offers master's and research programmes in a number of disciplines. The college was started in 1966 on a sprawling campus called Springfield, once the summer residence of the Maharaja of Cochin. Springfield has come a long way from its royal days, showing girls like Kalyani the way forward. Providence College for Women, Coonoor, is affiliated to Bharathiar University, Coimbatore. For details, visit http://providencecnr.ac.in

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