By Kazim Alam, The Express Tribune
KARACHI: Saturday was a memorable day for Muhammad Bilal Hafeez in many ways. He received the international vocational qualification (IVQ) diploma from the globally recognised City & Guilds, UK, along with the Sindh Trade Testing Board certificate in mechanical fitting and plant maintenance at the first graduation ceremony of DMS Technical Institute run by The Hunar Foundation (THF).
In addition, the day had a special significance for Hafeez because a steady monthly income after getting the year-long vocational training had made him the first student in his batch to actually start repaying his student loan – an accomplishment for which THF rewarded him with a brand new laptop.
Hafeez, 22, studied at schools run by The Citizens Foundation from class III to matriculation, which he passed in A-grade in 2009. While studying at DMS Technical Institute, he paid Rs1,000 every month for a year and went on to do a six-month apprenticeship at a factory. For every Rs1,000 he paid during his stay at DMS Technical Institute, THF contributed Rs6,000 towards his education as an interest-free loan. Hafeez is all set to fully pay back his student loan within next two to three years.
Moreover, his name is now on the list of graduates which THF is helping to find employment in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.
Ninety-six students from the first two batches of THF received certificates in five technical trades, including electrical installation; refrigeration and air conditioning; mechanical fitting and plant maintenance; fabrication, welding and pipe work; and plumbing.
Speaking to the graduating students, parents and members of various NGOs present on the occasion, THF Chief Operating Officer Rear Admiral (R) Azhar Hussain said every graduating student had either found employment in the industry or established his own small business. “The medium of instruction is English and computer education is mandatory. Some of our students passed City & Guilds exams, which are made and evaluated in the UK, in merit and distinction categories.”
As for the teaching staff, he said four faculty members were sent to Australia recently on a teachers’ training programme for five weeks. Besides, he added, three trainers came to Karachi from Germany to coach THF teachers.
Speaking on the occasion, THF founder-member Adnan Asdar said all students cleared the practical part of the City & Guilds exams in their first attempt. “Over 70% of students attempting the theory part of the City & Guilds exams cleared it in their first try,” he said, adding teachers should be praised for making students with weak academic foundations succeed in UK exams.
Talking to The Express Tribune, THF founder-member Abbas Akberali, who is CEO of Amreli Steels Limited, said the foundation was trying to help 70 THF graduates find work in the Middle East. “We expect our graduates to get a starting salary of 1,500 dirham.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29, 2012.