Ahead of the 2014 polls, the UPA government is planning to launch a Rs 978-crore skill enhancement programme for girls, 14 years or older, from the Muslim community. The proposal is likely to come up for cabinet approval soon.
Called “Hunar”, which means “skill”, the scheme aims at imparting skills training to nearly 9.2 lakh Muslim girls across India. The government has proposed to run the programme in a phased manner from 2014 to 2017.
In the first phase, the scheme, piloted by the HRD ministry, will target 50,000 girls and will be launched in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Assam. Vocational training in various courses — each of six months duration — will be provided to the girls.
“It will develop skills of Muslims girls according to their interest/ ability and help them get sustainable livelihood. Additionally, it will also run academic programmes for school dropouts to help them complete their education while getting employable skills in vocational courses,” said an official.
Initially, training in only a handful of courses, including beauticians, tailoring, embroidery, typing, and basic computing, would be given. More courses would be included depending on the needs of respective locality.
Implemented by the National Institute of Open Schooling, Hunar will target girls from rural areas who leave education at an early age. “Disadvantaged women from the community, including widows and destitute, would also be covered,” said another official.
The nationwide launch of Hunar would be a first. The scheme earlier, however, was launched for a year on a limited scale in Bihar (2008) and Delhi (2010). In Bihar, nearly 13,000 Muslim girls had taken up the training. Following its success, the standing committee of national monitoring committee for minorities education in April 2013, recommended that the scheme be implemented throughout the country.
“Girls from the Muslim community have been targeted as the drop out rate is higher among them and their access to conventional skill development programme is limited,” said the official.