Reflecting on the words of St. John Bosco “Remember that education is a matter of the heart”, a discussion and presentation on “Creating Opportunities for Marginalized Young People through Education and Vocational Training” was organised by Bosco Boys Home, (BBH) Borivali in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), at BBH on 23rdFebruary, 2019 from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm for various Non-Governmental Organizations (N.G.O), Community Based Organizations (C.B.O), Church Community Centres (CCC) and St. Vincent de Paul Parish Communities (VDP), to come together and find a way to give today’s youth a brighter future. In all 40 participants participated in the programme. 31 from various above mentioned groups, 3 from TISS and 6 from BBH- CWC sector.
While welcoming the guests, Fr. Corlis Gonsalves sdb, the Director of BBH introduced the concept of Open Schooling and NIOS. In his talk he shared, “BBH in keeping with the charism of our Founder St. John Bosco, conducts various Vocational Training courses for youth that makes them employable. We are also concerned about young boys in the age group of 10 to 18 years who for one reason or other, are not inclined to go to school, or leave for school but go elsewhere during that time. They find schooling irritating and painful and so drop out of school and lose out on opportunities in life. For them, Open School System / NIOS, is an alternative to the regular school system, where they are not burdened with subjects imposed on them. But have several easy subjects (bakery, computers, home science, etc.) and other extracurricular activities (yoga, gardening, music, museum visit, etc.) from which they can choose and complete 10th / 12th standard and get a recognized certificate. To share and discuss these opportunities for these marginalized young people, we at BBH invite all of you present here to come together and share ideas and work done in this particular area for their betterment and well-being.”
The objective of the session was to spread awareness of the services that BBH offers in terms of: 1. Its Technical courses. 2. Its residential programme for children at risk. 3. About the proposed open schooling programme or non- formal educational programme for children who have dropped out from school between the ages 10 to 18 years. Many N.G.O’s between Bandra to Palghar and even some from central railways attended this programme and shared their inputs. The session by conducted and moderated by Ms. Caroline D’Souza. She has worked for 27 years in the NIOS sphere in collaboration with Don Bosco Borivali and Wadala for the promotion of NIOS and Home schooling.
The session started with different groups introducing themselves in the nature of their work. Deacon Romero D’Souza, the Perfect of Studies of CWC and the Principal of the Technical School presented in the session an overview of Bosco Boys Home and the Technical Institute through 2 presentations. The first presentation was on Bosco Boys Home and about Don Bosco and his compassion for marginalized young people. Don Bosco’s vision and the Salesian mission to take care of youth were highlighted and in a special way also the history, present and the future plans of BBH. It also showed how the boys at BBH regularly were involved in a variety of activities such as sports and games, music and dance, theatre and art, etc. through the help of volunteers from various NGO’s like ‘Bhoomi’, ‘U n I’ and others. He also presented the way in which the Management and Staff regularly were involved with the children and looked after their day to day requirements. In the next presentation he gave information about the various technical courses available at BBH. The requirements, time duration and scope for employment were also discussed. The participants then broke up into groups and had discussions around the challenges they face working with the children between the age group of 10 to 18 years, what kind of health and services they needed and were also asked to discuss the challenges that organizations faced with reference to formal schooling,
as well as the help and intervention required to overcome the difficulties. One of the several challenges that institutes came across included ineffectiveness of formal education: the need for the problem of children who were dropping out of school between the age of 10 to 18 years because of which they were acquiring bad habits such as drug addiction, pornography, addictions, inappropriate choices and risky behaviours etc. so the need of the hour was to get them back to school.
Ms. Caroline D’Souza then explained the participants about NIOS and the advantages it offered as compared to conventional schooling. “School dropouts are children-at-risk and become vulnerable to exploitation. They become victims
to crime, drugs, pornography, etc. Such children have greater difficulties in rehabilitation or picking up trades later on. Through NIOS, the young people can finish 10th/12th Standard and have better opportunities in employment. The subjects are mostly vocational in nature and can be studied from home. It also has advantages of several attempts in exams and fewer subjects which are bakery, computers, home science and painting, etc”, she said. She went on to explain that BBH was considering implementation of this system from June 2019. Those above the age of 14 years could be enrolled for NIOS exam. Those between 12 to14 years could be prepared and home schooled through functional math, english conversations speaking, civic understanding, grooming and attire, extracurricular activities, computers, sports, etc. before they went on to give the exam.
When asked about the purpose behind this meeting, Datta Gade social worker from BBH shared, “We hope from this workshop the awareness about the proposed open schooling programme that is to be started at BBH will spread and people will bring the children those in need to enrol in this programme. Another thing which came up from the programme was the importance and the need for Networking. Many people felt very happy that they could come, listen and share their ideas and work with people from other N.G.O’s and have a collaborative approach in future.”
Ms. Sheryl John, a social worker from Snehasadan said, “I had come for this workshop basically to know the services been provided by Don Bosco. We also have enrolled our children for few of the courses which are available here. They got a very good experience. We have coordinated with BBH for over a number of years.”
Mr. Sudhir R Jadhav, the trustee of Jeevan Aadhar Seva Sanstha (JASS) said, “I had started my career working for street boys. We along with Don Bosco saved lot of street children and though now I am now working for the 18 and above years especially the beggars lying on the street, the destitute and poor people lying on streets, prison and government hospitals but since I started with street children project I had lot of inputs to share. It is a good thing done by BBH because people are not aware about these vocational training or short term courses. I also suggest that these boys made be taught courses like mobile repairing, computer hardware, watch repairing courses. These are the courses where age does not matter and skills learned can acquire one a secure future.”
The session ended with lunch been provided for the participants. It was decided that for the better functioning and networking a whatsaap group be made and all the details of each participant with their nature of work be shared with all.