Here school drop-outs turn skilled mechanics
CHENNAI: Padippu varla saar, schoola vittu ninutaen (Education is just not my thing, hence I dropped out from school). It’s rather common to hear this from school drop-outs. These students, in most cases children, grow up in low income households where there is no dearth of domestic issues. Obviously, it’s not a conducive place for children to concentrate on formal education. These kids due to lack of mentorship, end up living a life that puts them on the wrong side of the law.
With the aim to give such drop-outs a second chance, Universal Sevak University Trust (USUT) in Saligramam, an NGO, gives vocational training free of cost at their centre. Founded by the Bengaluru-based Acharya Vinay Vinekar in 2011, the institute teaches courses for six months. After that, the participants work in leading automobile firms like Hyundai, Bajaj, DSK Benelli and others.
“When they come to the institute, they are arrogant and brash. We understand it’s not their fault. For the first two months, our focus is on mind-body training through Yoga and lectures,” says R Sasikala, coordinator, of the institute.
It’s not as if the boys accept everything with open arms. “There are drop-outs in this centre too. We try our best to bring them back,” says S Kalaiarasi, another coordinator. A typical batch consists of about 30-35 students and are usually handpicked from slums or referred through word-of-mouth.
Take for instance, S Muniappan (22), a Class 8 drop-out who came to this institute five years ago. Now, he is employed as workshop assistant at Hyundai showroom. “My mother is a flower vendor and learnt about this initiative from one of her customers,” Muniappan told CE. “It was not easy adhering to the routine in the initial days, but then at some point, you have got to realise you are not doing anything with your life.”
Growing up with a single mother, Muniappan says he had put her through a lot of troubles while in school. “I was drinking heavily as a teenager and was thrown out from school,” he rues. “I was warned twice though. But then, how much can you expect people to be patient?”
The USUT team has developed the aspirations of these listless and arrogant students by developing their skill sets. Dinakaran (16), among the youngest to complete the course, is working at the DSK Benelli showroom in the same area. He has clear goals now.
“I want to go abroad and work at Harley Davidson motorcycles,” says Dinakaran with a confidence typical of his age and the tough neighbourhood he hails from. His friend G Dinesh Kumar wants to set up his own car shed. “En area la oru kada potta, summa getha irukkum (It would be a matter of pride If I can set up my own service centre in my neighbourhood),” he says.
N Sriram, a college drop-out, has posted pictures on Facebook of super bikes he gets to work on. The response he got was a boost for his ego. “After I dropped out of college, I searched for a job at many two-wheeler mechanic outlets in Pudupet, but was turned away. Today some of them approach me seeing my FB posts,” he laughs.
A New Meaningful Life
For each of them and many like them, the vocational training has brought back a meaning to life after they dropped out of formal education. If you know about any drop-outs from school or college who can make use of such training, contact Universal Sevak University Trust #48/5, Arcot Road, Saligramam. Or send a mail: firstname.lastname@example.org