Against the soft hum of machines and the sharper sounds of tools shaping steel, Debasish Ghosh takes his place at a metal lathe, ready to practice skills that will help launch him into a career.
For the past four decades, MCC has helped students who could not otherwise afford technical training to gain skills at Don Bosco Technical School and other institutions in Kolkata and the state of West Bengal in India.
It’s changing the future for students such as Ghosh, whose parents could not keep up with school fees when Ghosh first enrolled at Don Bosco. “My father is a farmer and the only earning member in my family,” the 23-year-old says.
Today, though, with help from MCC, Ghosh is in his final year of a three-year vocational training course to become a mechanical engineering technician.
Around the world, an important part of MCC’s education work is supporting vocational training programs — helping young people gain specialized skills and learn trades that will give them new paths to employment and a chance to better support themselves and their families.
“We see education as literacy, basic reading and writing, math, but it’s more than that,” says MCC education coordinator Lynn Longenecker. “It’s also learning practical skills that will lead to jobs. It’s learning skills for thinking critically, for getting along with others.
“Education is all of these layers that empower a person to have a voice and have an active role in defining their life and contributing to their community,” he stresses.
In India, MCC currently provides assistance to nearly 400 students to help pay fees and buy textbooks and other supplies for vocational training programs in mechanical, civil and electrical engineering or in fields such as nursing and midwifery.
Access to training is only the first step. MCC also aims at improving the quality of the education students receive.
In addition to supporting educational tours to sites such as factories, MCC’s vocational training program in India has funded efforts to improve vocational school libraries, to provide special coaching classes in English and math and to offer skills training for teachers. The program has paid for school equipment ranging from machinery to computers.
The Indian economy has witnessed significant growth in the past two decades, and demand is great for workers with skills related to manufacturing and industry. But students often struggle to afford these courses of study.
“My father is a carpenter and unable to pay my fees,” says Amrito Biswas, who is part of a three-year mechanical engineering technician course at Swami Vivekananda Institute of Science and Technology in Baruipur, West Bengal. “Through MCC’s help, I can do a training like this.”
Since MCC’s vocational training program in India began in 1975, it has touched the lives of approximately 9,000 young people studying in a variety of institutions in the Kolkata area and throughout West Bengal.
"Through MCC’s help, I can do a training like this."
- Amrito Biswas
Courses provide a mix of classroom learning and experience working directly with machinery and tools.
“My favourite part of this learning experience is the practical classes,” says Gulshan Burh, who is in his third year of a mechanical engineering technician course at Don Bosco Technical School. The more of these classes he can do, the more hands-on experience he’ll get. “I want to learn more,” he says.
Burh has seen that other students who have completed their training at Don Bosco have found jobs. He’s heard from graduates who have come back to the school to speak, and he knows that various companies recruit on the school campus.
The school estimates that about 80 per cent of the trainees find jobs in various national and multinational organizations, and others are using their skills in their own businesses.
But behind these numbers are stories of students’ own determination and effort — whether it’s Burh’s enthusiasm for more experience or the perseverance others show in overcoming obstacles to complete their learning.
Each morning, he rises at 4:30 to spend more than two hours travelling by train to Don Bosco. He returns home after 8 each evening.
So far, though, he is on track to graduate in August of this year.
“After receiving MCC support, my family is very happy, and I am doing my best to achieve my goal,” he says.
“Thank you, MCC, for all your support. You are part of my life, and I will never forget what you have done for me.