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Adolescents and youth

Passion into Profession

Barclays Partnership Helps Adolescents Turn Passion into Profession

UNICEF Image: Zarri (17) is pursuing both formal education and vocational training for dress making with the ambition to become an entrepreneur in fashion designing
© UNICEF/Pakistan 2013/Asad Zaidi
Zarri (17) is pursuing formal education and vocational training

Lahore, Pakistan: 17-year-old Zarri Yousaf has an ambition to become a dress designer and an entrepreneur. Her passion for making beautiful dresses and the desire to help her family attain social status and a comfortable living is her motivation to pursue both formal education and vocational training.  

“I dream of becoming a famous dress designer and owning my own boutique”, says Zarri. “I realise that it will not be easy because I belong to a poor family, I have to study, help my mother at home and at the same time learn dress making, but I am trying and will not give up.”     

Zarri lives with her family in a two-room house located in the courtyard of their church in the Anarkali area of Lahore. Her father, Yousaf Masih, is the gateman of the church and the head of a seven-member household. Paying for Zarri’s education and her dress making course was not possible with his meager resources.

“After the prayers on a Sunday, Father Joseph Lewis, who is in charge of our church, told us that the government has set up vocational training centers where they teach young girls stitching and sewing”, explains Yousaf. “The nearest center is almost 15 kilometers from my house and I was afraid to send my daughter that far. It is also expensive to commute. But when some other girls from our community started going to the center, I allowed Zarri to go with them.”

With financial assistance from the Barclays ‘Building Young Futures’ project, UNICEF's Child Protection section partnered with the Punjab Vocational Training Council (PVTC), which manages 174 Vocational Training Institutes across the province, most of which are in rural areas. The project imparts comprehensive vocational training and entrepreneurial skills to the most excluded adolescents in Punjab.      

UNICEF Image: Dress making instructor, Mussarrat Hussain, teaches students how to practice cutting a pattern for clothing on an old newspaper
© UNICEF/Pakistan 2013/Asad Zaidi
Instructor, Mussarrat Hussain, teaches how to practice cutting a clothing pattern on newspaper

600 adolescent boys and girls are being trained as dress makers, beauticians, electricians and motor cycle mechanics in the first phase of the project. Each course lasts one year, during which trainees work in various industries and businesses for two months to attain practical experience

Zarri’s instructor, Mussarrat Hussian, who says, “Zarri has a natural flare for designing. She has already started making dresses for herself and her sisters. With this training, girls can not only save the tailoring expense, but can also earn a decent income. Zarri realizes that and I am sure she would do very well in the future.”

The Vocational Training Institute that Zarri attends is called ‘Special House’. Some of the students have hearing impairments and the instructors are trained in inclusive education. The principal of this center, Khalid Javid, says, “We want these students to be able to do well in life. We help our graduates find jobs in various industries and acquire soft loans to start their own business.”

“Most of the students in the center belong to poor families. Some of them come from far off areas and commuting is expensive. Each student gets only Rupees 500 per month for transportation which is not enough. This results in absenteeism and is a problem for us.”

© UNICEF/Pakistan 2013/Asad Zaidi
Students practice cloth stitching on sewing machines

The second phase of the Barclays–UNICEF partnership, launched early in 2013, aims to help tackle youth unemployment by improving the prospects of 10,000 disadvantaged young people in Punjab. This will strengthen participants' economic and social resilience against the challenges of chronic poverty, inequality and changing economic circumstances.

“Adolescents belonging to excluded communities have limited opportunities to enroll in vocational training courses that are extensive, comprehensive and most of all certified by the government," says Shagufta Bhatti, a Child Protection Specialist for UNICEF.  “It is heart-warming to witness opportunities being provided to marginalized and excluded adolescents to gain vocational skills and also learn life skills, which are also part of the training course. I am hopeful that each and every successful adolescent trainee will make a huge difference not only in supporting their families but also, after a year, have increased social resilience.”



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