Women with disabilities boost Chittagong's growing RMG sector

Chittagong Mohila Polytechnic Institute this week inaugurated a new competency-based sewing machine operator’s training program for women with disabilities.

Press release | 31 January 2013
Ambassador William Hanna, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh inaugurated the program, with Mr Md Shahjahan Mian, Director General, Directorate of Technical Education and Mr Arthur Shears, Chief Technical Advisor, ILO TVET Reform Project in Bangladesh.

The course is based on a model developed through the ILO TVET Reform Project that was first piloted successfully with the Directorate of Technical Education, Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed and Interfab Shirt Manufacturing. The market driven vocational skills training course prepares the trainees for work as machine operators in Bangladesh’s quickly growing readymade garments (RMG) industry.

The RMG industry is a multi-billion-dollar manufacturing and export industry in Bangladesh. The country is the world’s second-biggest clothing exporter, with RMG exports making up 19 billion USD of the 24.3 billion USD total exports in 2010-2011. Chittagong Mohila Polytechnic Institute is one of the first public training institutions in Bangladesh to integrate women with disabilities into formal RMG training programs.

The model which Chittagong Mohila Polytechnic Institute is using was first piloted in CRP with twelve female participants with minimal educational levels including eight women with disabilities. All the twelve participants successfully completed the four month training course and were employed in Interfab Shirt Manufacturing for eight months on the job training as apprentices. CRP and Interfab have since then run successive courses based on this model and have continued to see numerous successes. The model has also recently been implemented at Gazipur Technical School and College.

The National Skills Development Policy approved by the Government of Bangladesh in 2012 calls for public and private training institutions across Bangladesh to convert their current programs to nationally-recognized, competency-based training programs to improve employment opportunities. It also calls for specific measures to improve access of under privileged groups including women, people with minimal levels of education and people with disabilities, to skills training programmes. Chittagong Mohila Polytechnic Institute and Gazipur Technical School and College are two of the first institutions in Bangladesh to replicate the ILO’s model for including persons with disabilities in skills training.
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