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vocational training institute offers free courses and trainings to widows

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vocational training institute offers free courses and trainings to widows
Islamabad:08 May:A woman in an Afghani burqa approaches the wooden reception desk seeking the enrolment of her daughter in a beautician training course. Sitting behind the desk, Saira Irfan smiles and asks a few questions about the girl’s age and family background. She then confirms the girl’s admission and gives details of course dates and timings.

Irfan, the coordinator of Muslim Ladies Technical and Industrial Institute, has been associated with the organisation for more than 10 years. She took training in dressmaking from there a decade ago and has stayed on since then, which is probably why she has a good understanding of what women are looking for when they come seeking admission.

“The institute offers free courses and trainings to widows, orphan girls, women who work as maids or in factories,” Irfan told The News. “These courses of technical education are beneficial to women who want to provide financial support to their families.”

Located in the old city area of Paan Mandi, Nanakwara, on James Terrace Road, the Muslim Ladies Technical and Industrial Institute has been functioning since 1927 and has been offering technical education and vocational trainings to women for some 91 years now.

It was run back then as Lohana Technical and Industrial Institute by Shivji Manick, a social worker, who ran it till 1948. However, another commemorative inscription on the building written in Gujarati and English mentions 1914 as the year when the institute was founded by Shri Devarbhoy, Kan Prac Je, Chinabhoy, VirJi Peraj and Anand Ji Bechar, social workers who likely belonged to the Gujrati Hindu community. The building is now a heritage protected site under Sindh’s Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, 1994.

In the aftermath of Partition when Hindu traders, businessmen, and social workers migrated in large numbers, Shivji Manick also had to bid farewell to the city, perhaps, with a heavy heart, and handed the institute over to Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, who renamed it Muslim Ladies Technical and Industrial Institute.

Irfan said the institute has rendered a great service to the community, helping empower women with skills that can help them earn a living. “I know most of the women who were enrolled here. They wanted to acquire the skills to earn and help their families financially. When they take these courses, they start earning well through their work in factories or establish their own start-ups,” she said.

Sharing her personal story of association with the institute, Irfan said that in the early 1960s, her grandmother took a tailoring course there. Following that, she began working from home and soon became famous for her innovative designs. “My grandmother wanted me to join Muslim Ladies Technical and Industrial Institute, so I got enrolled. Later on, I got a job here. Now, I support my family and want to work for other women,” Irfan said.

The coordinator further said that a majority of the students enrolled at the institute belong to low-income families. According to her, when violence and political rivalries created a law and order situation in the area, enrolment had declined significantly. However, with the improved situation, enrolment has picked up.

Courses and trainings

The institute offers admissions in skills-based courses that are included in the Adult Adolescent Literacy Training Program and another program called Subha Kiran.

These courses are sponsored by the Charter for Compassion Pakistan, an NGO that took charge of the institute for three years under the public-private partnership program and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sindh Education Foundation.

The Subha Kiran program comprises courses in beautification, computer and dressmaking which last up to four months. There is no age limit restriction to enrol in the program, which has about 45 students at the moment between the ages of 18 and 45.

Similarly, 72 students, aged 10 to 35 are enrolled in the three-year adult literacy program. Most of the students belong to Nanakwara, Bheempura, Narain Pura and other nearby localities.

The NGO not only offers people technical education free of charge, it also awards certificates upon completion, and helps in getting them jobs, starting their own workshops, small businesses, or home-based start-ups.

The institute has the honour of having Fatima Jinnah associated with it. According to Irfan, one of the custodians has preserved the things associated with Fatima Jinnah. However, Irfan has never seen them, except for the lone portrait of her hanging on the wall. The photo was taken in the late 1950s when Fatima Jinnah attended an annual certificate distribution ceremony.

Fatima Jinnah’s concern

The Pakistan Development Review (volume 42), a journal published by the Pakistan Society of Development Economists Islamabad on January 15, 2004 reveals that Fatima Jinnah paid emphasis on promoting technical education in the country.

An article published in the journal titled ‘Fatima Jinnah’s Concern for Women’s Technical Education’, written by Riaz Ahmad, former director of National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, Islamabad, states that it was a cause Fatima Jinnah felt attached to. Along with men, she wanted women in Pakistan to equally contribute to the industrial development of the country.

“Inaugurating the Muslim Women Industrial Home at Karachi in February 1948, she [Fatima Jinnah] said that in this Industrial Home widows will be provided training in different arts and crafts including sewing and embroidery so that they could live honourably by earning their livelihood and they were not dependent or become a burden on the government,” the article read.

Muslim women are generally brought up to be helpless and dependent on the male members of the family, who sometimes have to support quite a number of them which becomes an economic burden on the shoulder of one man, the article added, quoting another one of her speeches at another occasion on June 2, 1949. Fatima maintained that women or orphan children become so helpless that they have no option but to go for begging to earn their livelihood.

Moreover, Dr Samina Awan, former Chairperson of the Department of History at Allama Iqbal Open University wrote in her research article titled ‘Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah’s Verbal Duel: Non Violent Resistance for Social Change in Pakistan’ stated that on May 30, 1958, Fatima Jinnah appealed to philanthropists and the authorities to help the Institute, the only one of its kind, to complete its schemes held up due to lack of funds.

According to the article, she encouraged women to take advantage of the facilities being provided at the institute. The skilled labour force always contributes to the national economy and development everywhere in the world. Therefore, it’s the dire need of time to train female who live their lives below the poverty line due to some unseen situations, she said.The news.
If you born poor, its not your fault....But if you die poor, its your fault...."Bill Gates"

 

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