The students of the Don Bosco Tech Institute are learning how to create electrical network. New Delhi.
A DAY AT THE DON BOSCO TECH INSTITUTE
Text by Thomas Deflandre
Don Bosco Technical Institute is a large campus in the south of Delhi. Its ambition is to teach youth 18-35 who are marginalized from the ‘new economy’ jobs, how to enhance their employability.
The first thing I noticed after the quick security check-in was how beautiful the garden is. It’s kind of roundabout with a perfect green pitch and plenty of colorful flowers. Later on we discussed with the gardener who works here for 25 years and we complimented him for the amazing garden he made. Then I looked around and I saw an old but well maintained large building and a soccer field.
As I was distracted, Hitesh, our contact person at Don Bosco, approached, snappily dressed in a brightly colored patterned suit. Laura and I, expecting a less formal meeting, were dressed in T-shirts and jeans, and all of a sudden we felt quite underdressed! Nonetheless, he welcomed us warmly and escorted us to the door of a classroom. I immediately saw a big Philips poster and knew we were definitely in the right place!
A TEACHING MOMENT
We were welcomed by 14 students between 20 and 36, all wearing nice blue Philips jacket. We walked to the stage to introduce ourselves and Laura explained that we wanted unposed photos, so asked them to behave naturally. Immediately I felt everyone become nervous: “how to act natural!?!” Laura told me later that this is something she encounters a lot. I had no doubt that she’d be able to get them to relax, but also noticed that they dimmed the lights for the lesson, so they could use the beamer. That could make it tricky, I thought…!
I sat at the back of the room to listen to the course which was half English half Hindi. It reminded me my own electricity lessons. The teacher explained what electricity is,where it comes from, how it’s transported, and I’m happy to report there was a strong emphasis on green energy and safety.
After an hour we left the class to meet the Principal. He’d been leading the institute for 50 years, and his passionate eyes let us know just how strongly he felt about its purpose.
He gave us a tour and it was impressive to see the myriad programmes they propose: construction, electronics, mechanics, plumbing, power sector, printing – and more.
His ambition is to train 8000 students a year and he was proud to share the new work in progress: a 7-floor building to host them all!
As we walked back through the courtyard, we saw students playing on the soccer field. They were laughing a lot, which was quite a change from the studious expressions and nerves of the morning’s lesson.
We ended up quite busy posing for selfies. The teacher explained me that they’re not used seeing foreigners, and they’ll all share the news of meeting us with their friends and family. We’re not much different, since I’m doing the exact same thing right now.
BACK TO CLASS
After lunch it was time for the experimental classroom.
The funny thing is that the electricity of the room went down, so they had to fix it before the class...!
It was hands-on sessions where groups of students had to create serial and parallel electrical network including lamps and switches to explain the difference between those two options.
The atmosphere was really more relaxed than in the morning, we could ask questions right and left and we had again some selfies.
I used that opportunity to interview individually 3 students to get a better understanding of their stories. I felt again the stress in their voices but I quickly understood the challenge for them was actually to speak English. Luckily Hitesh was here to translate and then they relaxed and spoke freely.
|Shehnaz is a young woman of 21 years old and she is in a family of 5 sisters and 2 brothers from a village near to Delhi.
She is a strong person, she lost her father in 2011 and her mother completely disapproved the idea to have her daughter becoming electrician.
It’s important to understand that from certain regions and especially from rural villages girls should do
So even if her mother and the community was against, thanks to her brothers she managed to join Don Bosco Tech. Since that time she got the buying from her mother because she is the only person at home able to fix electrical issues.
Shehnaz knows only 1% of electrician are women and she wants to prove she can do it even better than men. But she knows, to get a job, she will have to convince the interviewer who might not be ready yet for hiring a woman. Her answer:
|Vikalp is a man of 36 years old leaving in Delhi. He has a commuting time of more than 1h to reach the institute and he does it every day.
Like others he’s in this program for 2 months and has done half already.
Vikalp has always been interested in electricity since his father has an electrician shop.
San Dhwa Shukla is a woman of 34 years old and has 2 children: 7 and 11 years old. She has a master in political science but she stopped everything after her marriage to take care of the children and house.
END OF THE DAY
The discussion with the students was a very great moment to us. It helped us understanding how tough culturally, socially and economically it can be to come from rural villages or disadvantaged families. Coming from Europe you easily forget how easy it is to access education — something that we take for granted others work very hard for.