Soon after the South Asia Foundation (2000) was
established, its very first undertaking was a workshop for training
teachers from the two National Institutes of Bhutan under which
58 teachers learnt to use computers. They have since trained hundreds
of other teachers and spread out to schools all over Bhutan. The
success of this project encouraged SAF to enlarge the dimension
of vocational training into a number of other fields across the
South Asian countries.
In an innovative pilot SAF programme,
30 girls selected from remote
villages in Kashmir are being given a
nine-month training course in
pre-primary education at the Kashmir
University in Srinagar. They will
return home and set up their own
Starting from 2004, SAF vocational training programme
will be enlarged by annually offering 1000 SAF Madanjeet Singh scholarships
to young people eager to acquire skills through vocational training
including South Asias renowned traditional handicrafts.
The scholarships will give talented young people the opportunity
to develop their natural capabilities. The selection of candidates
will be done by special committees set up by the SAF Chapters who
will also identify suitable institutions. In India alone, there
are over 4000 technical Institutes (ITIs), about 1600 polytechnics
and some 7000 vocational study centres. Similar vocational training
institutions are found in other South Asian countries.
A coordinated effort by SAF Chapters to implement
the scholarship programme will not only promote regional cooperation
but will greatly help in creating job opportunities and gainful
employment for the winners of the scholarships.