A successful cooperation with Turquoise Mountain in vocational training
Vocational training should be part of an exhaustive educational programme in a developing country such as Afghanistan. A bottom up approach is important in order to have, together with young graduates, a properly skilled labour force that could encourage small entrepreneurial activities and improve the welfare of workers. In order to be successful, the quality of training is key. For this reason, Arghosha Committee has joined forces with Turquoise Mountain (www.turquoisemountain.org) the charity founded by Rory Stewart with the patronage of the Prince of Wales, whose mission is to enhance craftsmanship skills in the country using traditional methods in areas such as construction, carpentry, pottery, jewellery and calligraphy.
We decided to conduct a pilot experiment in Bamiyan in two main areas of skills: masonry and carpentry (traditional and wood carving). Bamiyan has one of the most splendid heritages in the world. The Buddhas were (sadly) a testament to monumental sculpture, as antique towns such as Gholghola (now partially restored by Unesco with Italian funds) were architectural marvels. The turistic potential of the region is huge, and it is important that local people get the necessary skills to improve their ability in the upper end of the labour market. In the last 10 years Bamyan has built 4 new hotels, a University, a hospital, an airport and dozens of residential and government buildings.
The working programme lasted 2 months, from 23 July to 22 September 2015, but started in mid May with various assessments and visits on the ground. Turquoise Mountain was assisted by Shuhada Organisation, our partner charity in Afghanistan, who gave invaluable support in finding the premises and identifying the trainees.
All the trainees received a basic stipend and a toolkit that they took with them at the end of the courses. Masonry was the other important area of training. In Bamyan province the quality of carpentry is very rudimentary. Desks are very basics as are windows and doors.
Before joining the course, half of the apprentices had worked as unskilled labourers. Three quarter of them (15) worked as daily workers, while four where self employed working on their land. The trainees were confident that after the completion of their courses their wages would more than double in average from 250 Afghani (4 US $) a day to 500-700 Afghani (8-11 US $). This is particularly good news given the fact that this year the construction sector has slowed down and a growing number of skilled labourers has come to the market making it more difficult to find a proper job for the less skilled ones. We think that this training has proven very helpful. We hope that with the support of our friends of Shuhada and Turquoise Mountain we can repeat this programme and explore new avenues in order to improve the skills and the living standards of those living in Bamiyan province. The start has been very promising!