Students STEP Up for All-round Improvement

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A major part of technical education involves gaining hands-on experience and skills through working with real material and tools. The worked on materials in the class, as one would expect, is thrown away at the end. But, that was not the case for the students of the Civil Engineering department of the Rajshahi Technical Training Center (TTC), who gave a facelift to institution by repairing the road, pavement, and guard room and upgrading the infrastructure. “The young men and women of Bangladesh care about their country and are passionate about what they do. Empowering them with knowledge and skills and the means to utilize their learning through employment ignite their inner power to make a difference in society,” said Mahbubur Rashid Talukder, the Principal, Rajshahi Technical Training Center (RTTC), praising his students ideas and initiatives that transformed the institute.

Renovated front entrance of TTC Rajshahi
Renovated front entrance of TTC Rajshahi
Rajshahi Technical Training Center, located 3 kilometers from the city center of Rajshahi, was. established in 1967. The institution has produced a countless number of graduates with vocational and technical skills for the local and international labor market. Yet, during almost half-a-century of its history, the building and facilities of this public institution have become old and worn out. In 2011, RTTC was selected as one of the project institution by the ‘Skills and Training Enhancement Project (STEP)’ for improving the quality of short course training. The course is designed for individuals having at least Grade 8 completion and interest for gaining practical skills before entering the labor market. The short course training, although they are not for building high technical skills, provides an opportunity for many school dropouts for getting a ‘second chance’ for improving their skills and employability.
The students along with the instructors of the institution came up with the idea of using the fund received from STEP project for upgrading the institution itself, instead of buying materials for classroom use only. The students wanted to gain more practical experience from actual work rather than just from classroom learning. Thus, a venture of the students at Rajshahi TTC started, innovatively catalyzing the project-supported grants and their training opportunities, for bringing forth renovation and improvements of their institution. Using available raw materials, students of the Civil Engineering department constructed the much needed pavement and drainage system to make a shallow tube functional and meet campus water demand. In addition, students undertook further civil works through reconstructing shops, toilets and a badminton court within the institution. 
BEFORE: Badminton-court
AFTER: Badminton-court
Not to be left behind, the Welding and Fabrication students came up with the novel idea of cold drinking water at their campus. Rajshahi is one of the hottest places in Bangladesh, with frequent reports of heat stroke and other related health issues regularly affecting students as well as the general population. Since the installation of the water cooler, the average water intake among students has increased, keeping them hydrated and focused during training sessions on hot summer days.
Cooler for drinking water
Cooler for drinking water

Students of the General Electronics department repaired damaged light chargers by replacing dead batteries with recycled batteries from cellphones. Encouraged by their success in this endeavor, students went ahead and produced flashlights using recycled cellphone batteries and high intensity LEDs.
Flashlights produced by using recycled batteries from mobile phones
Flashlights produced by using recycled
batteries from mobile phones
The Rajshahi TTC is an inspiring example that access to skills training can motivate young people to improve not only their own lives and livelihoods, both also those around them with innovative ideas.  The Skills and Training Enhancement Project (STEP), has been an important part of the Government of Bangladesh’s endeavor to improve the technical and vocational education. Started in 2009, STEP is working to improve the training quality and the employability of trainees in around 150 public and private technical and vocational education training (TVET) institutions, including short course providers like RTTC. STEP is scheduled to run through June 2016, with around USD 90 million as financial assistance from the World Bank and the Canadian Government.
The anecdotes of the different initiatives taken by students in Rajshahi TTC are a snapshot of the skills-orientated training and leadership which STEP is encouraging through its support to short course training providers. Till June 2014, 520 students of Rajshahi TTC have benefitted from four STEP short-course programs. From January 2012 to June 2014, 40,074 students nationwide have participated in short courses and benefitted under the STEP project. One fourth of the benefitiaries are female. Over 90 percent of these STEP-supported students have received certification as trained and qualified technicians in these different trades. The employability of the graduating students has not been limited to the local and national industries, but also extended to overseas markets.
STEP has been empowering students in improving their access to short-course training programs through monthly stipends throughout the duration of their program. Equipped with better skills, students are entering the workforce with higher confidence and leadership skills.


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