Strides of UCEP
– Suraj Dahal
- Being self-sustainable
- Optimizing resources imparting quality non-formal education (NFE), Technical Education and Vocational Training (TEVT) advocating rights of children
- Targeting programs for underprivileged children
- promoting participation of girls
- ensuring employment of trainees
- promoting self-employment
- developing human resource
These are but a few of UCEP’s major activities, responsibilities, and imminent challenges that have often been highlighted, discussed, and yes, sometimes even praised. Achievements and accolades received over the years have bolstered its commitment to further champion the noble cause for which it was founded – i.e., to employ the underprivileged children by imparting quality NFE and market relevant TEVT.
Personally, the most gratifying of all the accolades has been acquaintances made with recent and past graduates. They’ve made it! Most of them are employed and are supporting themselves. Some have even successfully ventured to be self-employed. Living a dignified and independent life is not just a cliché for them but a reality. And a sweet one indeed.
Alleviating poverty altogether by empowering, educating, and training all the underprivileged children would be overwhelming to say the least, even ludicrous. Nonetheless, efforts are being made to accumulate resources, be it technical and / or financial, to make a significant impact for as many of them as possible.
Avenues are being explored to further improve the quality of education and training programs, increase the number of trainees, and employ them all upon graduation through our Placement Unit. Enrollment of subsidized fee-paying trainees has long been instituted to form a mechanism to ensure quality of training programs as well as indicate their market relevancy. It has become invaluable and an indispensable tool to access training program’s strengths and weaknesses. As one of the outcomes of such feedback, on-the-job-training (OJT) and trade visits are in the process of being institutionalized.
Endeavors have been made not to leave any stone unturned in optimize existing resources: instructional hours of trainers, number of trainees in each trade, ratio of trainees to trainer, use of machines, tools, and equipment. As a result, NFE to around 400 students in three General Schools (Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Dang) and TEVT to more than 220 trainees in six different regular programs (Automobile Mechanic, Motorcycle Mechanic, General Mechanic, Draftsmanship, Offset Printing Press, and Plumbing) has been made possible, an increment despite corresponding financial supplement.
The gradual increment of the internally generated fund to the present level is a testimony of UCEP’s stride towards self-sustainability. This year, contribution from income generating programs to the annual budget has increased from 60 to 68 percent.
Recently, there has been a welcome shift of paradigm to support Technical Training Providers (TTPs) by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). An implementing agency, Training for Employment Project (TfE), has been assigned the responsibility to support TTPs on a competitive basis. This year agreement has been made with TfE to conduct one-year Automobile Mechanic Training Program in cost sharing partnership, success of which shall pave the way for similar support to other training programs. It shall also be the final verdict to affirm our positive actions and contributions.
Yes, educating and providing marketable skills to underprivileged children that will enable them to live independently is an expensive proposition. But we can just imagine or estimate the cost of their ignorance.
It is a pleasure to have had an opportunity to cover some issues and challenges of UCEP while leaving others to be covered by colleagues. It is also very motivating to a part of an organization that is inspirational to so many. Hope we can all come together to improve the lives of underprivileged children, in any way possible.