The Green Colleges train rural youth on green trades, combining traditional wisdom with scientific techniques and enabling better access to technology, finances and market, ensuring significantly higher incomes and bringing back the lost pride and dignity in these sustainable rural professions.
The 'Green Colleges Initiative - Developing Green Entrepreneurship in Tribal areas of India' draws from the success and promising results of the now concluded Vocational Education and Training programme (co-funded by the European Union). Support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) enabled the setting up of the Green Colleges, institutions that cater to the skill development of local rural youth, giving them access to a dignified livelihood within their own community.
Green Colleges offer both short term (15-30 days) and longer term certificate courses (six months), providing a mix of theoretical, practical and experiential learning. Lessons include soft skills normally neglected in standard vocational training, such as business plan development, marketing, entrepreneurship, motivation, conflict resolution, leadership and communication skills. The trades included in the courses have been traditionally pursued by these communities, have high value in their local context and are need-based, thus increasing considerably the opportunities for self-employment.
The courses include skills such as on sustainable farming, animal husbandry and veterinary para professionals, integrated fishery, sustainable harvesting and processing of forest produce, agro food processing, solar lighting etc.) and combine the traditional wisdom of these communities with modern scientific knowledge to help the small producers grow into `ecopreneurs’. About 30,000 students will be trained over a period of four years up to 2018 by setting up nine such Green Colleges, four of which are already functional.
- Green Colleges are accredited by the Agriculture Sector Skill Council of India (ASCI) formed under National Skill Development Corporation of India. Thus all the courses offered are duly certified.
- The colleges have a quality control mechanism in place through a well-defined selection process, customized curriculum and proper validation of knowledge through assignments/interviews and post training business development support. The successful trainees are offered certificates after completion of the course.
- The colleges also offer extension services by setting up Farmer Field Schools in the villages. These are facilitated by high potential Green College trainees who in turn provide knowledge and extension to the community at large.
- The trainees are mentored post training to establish their farm as business units and are further aggregated to form Farmer Producer Organization (FPO) that provides economies of scale and access to the market.
- Each Farmer Producer Organization sets up a Common Facility Centre for storing, grading, processing, packaging and marketing of rural produce, thus enabling the small holders to move up the value chain.
One of the successful innovations of the Green Colleges is the setting up of public private partnerships. Leading corporate houses like Tata Steel and Usha Martin, and foundations such as the Tata Trust are, through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funding, actively collaborating in the initiative. These organisations are expected to scale up the action, thus ensuring the sustainability of the programme.
For more information, download the Rural Skills Development brochure.
Check the post about German Minister Dr. Gerd Mueller visiting the Green College in Jharkhand here.
Vocational Education and Training for Inclusive Growth of Tribal Youth
In East Indian States of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa, India
For over two decades India has witnessed impressive economic growth rates. Yet the country faces the formidable challenge of providing meaningful employment to its very large workforce of 430 million people with an additional 10 million entrants every year.
Out of this workforce 395 million are employed in the unorganized sector where agriculture alone accounts for 253 million including agricultural labourers and small farmers. The government’s measures to expand skill training still focuses largely on creating a workforce to meet the requirements of the organized sector adding up to the already existing large exodus of rural population. Several studies carried out on migration indicate tremendous exploitation, health hazards and a degrading social climate in the urban slums. It is here where the importance of vocational education and training strongly needs to be underlined. The Vocational Education Training programme is one such step towards this direction.
Perspective and objectives
To address the problem of high unemployment in the unorganized sector, which employs 86% of the total workforce in India and to arrest migration to towns, WHH South Asia Regional Office (SA-RO) initiated the Vocational Education and Training (VET) programme with EU support for agriculture and natural resource based trades. In mainstream vocational education, these trades are either given scant attention, or have serious flaws leading to their being ineffective and irrelevant for the youth. The project aims at putting up models for VET under these themes targeting highly marginalized communities in selected backward regions in India.
Partners in development
The project is implemented by the four partner NGOs, Development Research Communication and Service Centre (DRCSC) and Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama (RKM) in West Bengal, Agragamee in Orissa and Centre for World Solidarity(CWS) in Jharkhand; who combine their in house expertise with resource/technical institutions from other Government and non Government agencies. While the programme financially supports only vocational education, post VET through intensive hand-holding assistance multi stakeholder linkages with Government, non Government and the private sector is established ensuring that trained beneficiaries are able to set up ecologically, financially, and technologically sustainable local micro-enterprises.
Based on community needs, traditions and indigenous skills, following six themes related to agriculture and natural resource based livelihoods have been identified-
a) Sustainable Agriculture (Farm & Non Farm)
b) Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP)
c) Agro Processing & Value Addition
d) Water Conservation Technologies
e) Renewable Rfural Energy
f) Integrated Animal Health Care and Nutrition.
A total of 40 types of courses spanning between 15-30 days, within these six major themes (332 number of trainings in all) are being provided. Each course has built in components related to technical skills, basic financial skills and market orientation. An integral feature of the project is to nurture Ecopreneurs - who are Green Entrepreneurs - selling products, services, or technologies related to the above-mentioned themes. Each Ecoprenuer works on a Business Development Plan along the Value Chain for his/her trade, under expert guidance facilitated by partner NGOs.
Impacts and Achievements
In the last four years of the VET project 4,100 trainees have been trained across 33 trades. 47% of the trainees are female whereas 94% belonged to the backward communities. As an impact of the training 3,000 trainees immediately after receiving the training could earn additionally between INR 5,000 and -10,000 or even more per activity cycle ranging between 3-9 months additionally, taking these families out of the poverty.
920 high potential youth could earn more than INR 50,000 in a year which further confirms the potentiality of these rural professions. 54% of trainees have been linked successfully to a government programme or a bank loan after taking up the training towards expanding their business ideas and 65% could find a better market for their produce.
The USP, of the success has been following up each trainee individually and providing coaching to her/his business endeavour, therefore achieving better employment / business creation than most of the other vocational programs that do not provide such post-training support.
The concept of Ecoprenuers fits well within the Welthungerhilfe’s vision of promoting self-help and reliance among farmers and also up-scaling them onto the business chain and hence can be replicated in most of Welthungerhilfe’s project interventions. The fact that the model focuses on the youth who are open to new ideas and are willing to experiment makes this initiative sustainable as it also arrests migration. Further it efficiently builds up a symbiotic relationship especially in South Asia between the government, the private enterprises and the trader all of whom have an interest in the sustainability of the model – the government in mainstreaming the vocational trade- the private enterprises in creating new markets for products – the trader in maximising his skills and earning income out of it.
Community College for Ecopreneurs
Welthungerhilfe and the partners implementing the VET programme strongly felt the need to continue offering such courses to train more and more rural youth as “Ecoprenures”, taking them out of poverty. Therefore the concept of Community College as an institution catering to the skill development of local rural youth was conceived.
Community Colleges provide education, aimed at the empowerment of the disadvantaged and the underprivileged (Rural poor, Tribal poor and Women) community by skilling them on trades which have been traditionally persuaded by these communities and which has high value in their local context so that they can earn a dignified livelihood within their community, contrary to the current approach of skill training of the Govt which tries to get them a job in urban –semi urban area.
Four Community Colleges have been initiated till December’13 with support from Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) by Welthungerhilfe partners RKM and DRCSC at Bankura, West Medinipure, South 24 Parganas and Birbhum districts of West Bengal
The community colleges have a well defined selection process to match the motivation of the trainee with her/his ability, natural resources also the skill of her/his choice. There are provisions for trainees who have long discontinued their studies to go through an initial 15 days bridge course. Currently the Community Colleges offer both short term (15-30 days) and longer term certificate courses (six months). The time frame for the six months certificate course has been kept flexible as most of these trainees live on daily wages and they cannot afford being long absent from their work. The courses have a mix of theoretical, practical, experiential learning processes and also include lessons on business skills and soft skills. Detailed course modules are being developed with each course having 30 or 15 credits, comprising of all learning activates.
Community College also provides the right platform to the trainee to interact with the local banks, financial institutions, industries, private farms to share about their skills as well as business ideas. This will help the trainees to establish relationship with resource organizations, buyers, market & also with the potential employers towards developing a networking in the training space itself.
The community college will also help in incubating the business ideas of this new generation "Ecopreneures" by providing follow up & hand holding support for at least one year from the completion of the course. So that the queries of the trainees, problems while practicing the newly learned skills can be sorted out in real life situations.
The courses offered by the Community college are cost effective as the cost of education is much lower than conventional education systems. Efforts will be given to subsidies the education further by mobilizing resources from the private and public funding. The College should be able to self sustain itself within a time frame of four years from course fees and also attracting private and public donations. Courses are now being picked up from the traditional trades of these communities and therefore are very much contextual and need based. Though there is a formal selection process before enrolment, the entry barrier has been kept low so that youngsters from the marginalized communities can participate in the program.
Advance Certificate Courses
6 months, 30 Credits
1. Sustainable Agriculture
a. Crop Based Agriculture
b. Fishery Based Agriculture
2. Solar Equipment Repair & Maintenance and Basic Electronics
3. Livestock Husbandry & Veterinary Health
3 Months, 15 Credits
1. Non-Timber Forest Produce
a. Tasar Cultivation
b. Products from Shal leaves
c. Products from Jute
d. Products from Babui Grass
e. Products from Date Palm Juice
f. Products from Palmyra Palm Juice
All the courses are practical with hands on practice sessions in the student’s own village/field and the evaluation of students’ success are also done on the basis of the applications in their own fields. The credit pattern is at par with UGC norms. As common to all the trainees, the colleges also ensures Mentoring support, Skill building on marketing, Skill building on soft skills like stress management, conflict resolution, leadership and communication skill, Basic computer training etc. All the colleges have a green campus, far from the madding crowd and pollutions of the city, with demonstration field. We provide accommodation in fully equipped dormitory with local food. Library facilities, space for co-curricular cultural activities and Internet facilities are available in the campus.
During last one year colleges trained 200 entrepreneurs in Solar and basic electronics, Sustainable Agriculture, Pond based Agriculture and Livestock Management.
Kashipur in the Rayagada district of Odisha has favourable weather conditions for growing orchards. However, due to lack of local skills in growing good quality saplings, farmers are often unable to benefit from these conditions.
Jyotiram Jhodia, 25, is a tribal farmer and the sole bread winner for his family of five. Jyotiram and his family found it extremely difficult to survive on the 3 acres of land that they owned. Being a school dropout, his education lacked any kind of skill based training. Things turned around for Jyotiram when he undertook a one month training programme on “Nursery Raising and Management”. He got well versed in the techniques of plant grafting and initiated his own nursery of 2,000 saplings. In 2011 he earned a profit of around INR 40,000 by selling those grafted saplings. Motivated by the success he expanded his nursery further and raised 6,000 saplings next year. Jyotiram approached the district horticulture department and got his nursery certified. In 2012 he earned 130,000 INR and in 2013 he further earned more than 150,000 by selling 8,000 saplings. A confident Jyotiram now says “I want to receive further training and can also afford to pay for it as long as the training helps me in becoming a good farmer.”