'Sowing Seeds for a Life in Dignity’ – Vocational Education for Youth in the SPACE project

Youth are the driving force of a family, society and also the nation. The latter’s well-being therefore depends on a good foundation for young people in terms of meeting their basic needs, providing a home, food security and a proper education. Young people, especially those invisible masses of socially marginalized young people, have to develop their personality. Only then is it possible for them to secure a bright(er) future and to contribute to a society’s prosperity.


Taking into account the long-term impact laying a good foundation for young people has on their future development, the project ‘Community Empowerment and Sustainable Livelihood’ for former Kamaiyas (bonded labourers), supported by AWO International and implemented by the local NGO SPACE in five Village Development Committees (VDCs) of Nepal’s Bardiya District, supports vocational education of selected young people from the project area as part of its project activities.


12 young people from Bardiya District thus recently joined the Sanothimi Technical School (UCEP Nepal), Bhaktapur, for various 3-4 months long resident vocational education trainings – ranging from masonry to motorcycle repair or plumbing. The trainings are accompanied by extracurricular activities and other informal courses such as Nepali, mathematics or computer knowledge – catering both, to literate and illiterate young people. The participants supported by the project are of diverse background – from illiterates to those with a higher secondary education, aged 19 to 34, with or without a family of their own. But this diversity does not stand in the way of their jointly taking the trainings and staying together for a considerable amount of time.


"It is a really good opportunity for me to learn masonry properly" says Gopal Tharu (34) from Shaktinagar-4 of Kalika VDC in Bardiya District. "I was working as a mason in my own village for several years now, without any proper knowledge, just working under the guidance of the senior mason. Now, I will have the proper knowledge of my trade after completion of the training. It will help me to earn more in the future and from this my children’s education will benefit." Another trainee, Rajendra Chaudhary (19), who joined the plumbing training, shares that "as I am a young member of my family, I have the responsibility to raise my family’s economic status, which will be possible through the training. I will be certified to work as a plumber in the market area of my District or maybe even in the neighbouring District. Nowadays, my trade enjoys a growing market scope and I am sure that it will help me to get a good income in the future." Two other trainees supported by the project are involved in a week-long Front Agriculture Worker training in Banepa, Kavre District. They will learn how to promote organic farming the their respective VDCs.


Since the freed Kamaiyas (the former bonded labourers, from which the training participants are recruited) have only limited land resources (on average 335 sqmts. Per family) provided by the government after the official abolishment of the Kamaiya practice in 2000, no other income/employment opportunity except labour works in the village or nearby markets is available to them. The joint AWO International/SPACE project aims to increase their existing income level from NPR 2.000 to NPR 4.000 in a month through various kinds of project interventions. It therefore introduced agriculture trainings, livestock farming (jointly with the District Livestock Office) entrepreneurship promotion and vocational education trainings in order to enhance the local income/job opportunities. Between October 2009 and September 2012 total of 84 project beneficiaries were getting trainings in vocational education and capacity-building for setting up their own small businesses. The trainings included a diverse range of topics such as mobile phone repairing, auto mechanic, electrical wiring, hand pump installation, agriculture facilitation, veterinary worker, masonry, plumbing, social worker etc. Many of the former trainees have set up their own small businesses, have become small entrepreneurs or are employed in the local area. Similarly, 25 community members have been trained as Local Resource Persons. 22 of them are actively working as local facilitators for project activities at the grassroots level. The project’s target group thus do not depend on external facilitators when the project will come to an end.


A lot has changed in the project area in terms of sanitation, the visibility of Self-Help-Groups, saving and credit practices, awareness on access to education, income opportunities – to name just a few examples. The foundation for a sustainable livelihood of the former Kamaiyas have been laid, but there is still a long way to go.

Youth from Bardiya in front of Sanothimi Technical School

Mechanics training in full swing