Soma, a 20-year-old woman who lost all her hopes after her husband left her several months back, has again started dreaming of a new life, thanks to the Self-Employment and Poverty Alleviation (SEPA) project.
She is now learning plastic processing skills in a three-month training course conducted by the Bangladesh Industrial Technical Assistance Centre (BITAC) under the SEPA project. The centre is located at Tejgaon in Dhaka.
"I became so dejected and hopeless after the divorce with my husband," said Soma, who hails from Bagura.
But the training has changed the course of her life.
Now she has started dreaming of landing a job in a reputed company, but it was really hard to imagine herself in such a position only a few months back before coming to BITAC, said a confident Soma.
The course is free and she is also receiving daily allowance, she said.
The course is providing a great opportunity for needy and helpless youths to be self-employed and begin a new journey, leaving behind a life of poverty and uncertainties.
Sharmin Akter, 18, is another trainee who came from Madaripur district. She has enrolled in the training on plastic general and looks forward to working in a big company.
Her father is now bed-ridden as he was seriously injured in a road accident. Following this tragedy, her two brothers stopped going to school to earn a livelihood for their family.
Sharmin has come to BITAC with a goal to change her life, she said.
Like Shoma and Sharmin, many such helpless women have won over poverty under the SEPA project of the BITAC.
The project was launched in 2009, designed to create self-employment opportunities and eradicate poverty through imparting training to the poor and ultra-poor youths in the country.
Some 22,780 youths have so far received training from the Bangladesh Industrial Technical Assistance Centre (BITAC) under the SEPA project across the country.
Of the total, 9,581 females and 13,199 males took part in the trainings from July 2009 to September 2018.
The target of the project was to train 25,000 people by June 2019 and till date the achievement rate is almost 91 per cent.
A total of 7253 persons (3681 males, 3572 females) have been awarded appointment letters at the end of the training courses and many others have become entrepreneurs.
The uniqueness of the project is to hand over training certificates along with appointment letters at the closing sessions of the trainings on most occasions.
Under the SEPA project, the Dhaka centre provides three-month training for female trainees on nine trades while four other centres across the country arrange two-month training for male participants on three trades.
In Dhaka centre, 300 females are enrolled in each batch. They receive training on machine maintenance, electrical maintenance, AutoCAD, household appliances, air-conditioning and refrigeration, plastic general and plastic customise, carpentry and light machinery.
At present, the Dhaka centre is running the training course for the 36th batch.
For males, there are training courses on machine maintenance, electrical maintenance and welding in four other centres.
Md Saifuddin Ahmed Tushar, a senior manager of RFL Group, told the FE that his company recruited trainees from BITAC, because they are very disciplined and smart.
The RFL Group picked them through job fairs, he added.
BITAC director general Dr Md Mafizur Rahman, also an additional secretary, said the SEPA project has contributed a lot to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially goals No. 1, 2, 5, 8, 9 and 17 relating to poverty alleviation, zero hunger, gender balancing, decent work, fostering industrialisation and partnership building.
"Skills development through training, employment and income generation, and partnership with industrial units actually help attain all relevant targets of the SDGs. Women empowerment through training and job creation are the finest output of the SEPA project," he told the FE.
Contacted, industries secretary Abdul Halim said the BITAC is creating employment opportunities for the needy and poor section of youths in society and helping them fight poverty.
He also expressed the hope that the BITAC's training programme will help develop entrepreneurship and achieve the SDGs by 2030.
The industries secretary also lauded the role of BITAC in providing technical education and developing entrepreneurship among the poor people through the SEPA project.
BITAC was established in 1962 by merging the Industrial Research and Development Centre (IRDC) with the Industrial Productivity Services (IPS). At the beginning, the name was PITAC. Immediate after independence, it was renamed BITAC in 1972.
BITAC is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Industries.
There are five BITAC centres in the country -- located in Dhaka, Chattorgam, Khulna, Bogura and Chandpur. BITAC is rendering technical training since its inception.
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