120 students from Punjab Skill Development Fund programme receive diplomas
“The youth should be extended financial and social support so that they can contribute to nation-building,” Labour and Human Resources Minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar said on Friday.
The minister was the chief guest at an exhibition displaying the work of 120 students from the Punjab Skill Development Fund (PSDF). The PSDF had arranged the show in collaboration with the National College of Arts (NCA).
The 120 students have completed three-month diplomas in ceramics, woodwork, prototype development, photography and furniture design. Those having matriculation certificates and above 15 years of age were eligible for the programme. They were charged no fees and were paid a stipend of Rs1,500 a month.
“I am happy to see that the NCA was involved in the training,” Sarwar said.
NCA Principal Murtaza Jafri said, “We wanted to be part of this activity. The government has invested in the children which is great.”
“Every year one million people enter the labour market. Many of them find it difficult to get jobs because they lack skills,” PSDF CEO Ali Sarfaraz said.
“I am thankful to the NCA for being part of this initiative.” He urged the students to learn “high-end design” and utilise the skills to create job opportunities.
Hafsa Shafiq, who received a diploma in furniture design, said, “The teachers told us to work with a certain theme. I chose a pirates theme to design a room. It was a great experience. I can use all wood-working machines and tools,” Shafiq told The Express Tribune.
“I made a wooden sculpture based on the concept of aperture,” Rahim Shahbaz, one of the participants, said.
“I made a serving tray that can also be used as a decoration piece. I also designed a tool box,” said Shahbaz.
Sonia Asghar, who got a diploma in ceramic product design, was ecstatic. “The programme was beyond my expectations. I had so much fun in the three months that I find it hard to describe it,” she said. “You can tell from my work that I enjoyed myself.
The teachers encouraged us to think creatively. They virtually dug out creativity in us. You won’t find anyone plagiarism here. I want to continue working in this field,” said Asghar who was among the top students in her class.
Kashifa Hamid, a graduate from the Punjab University also studied ceramics. “I made bowls and bottles using firing techniques. I also made toys and [statues of] Buddha. I had never imagined youths like us could study at the NCA. We found great teachers here. I thank the PSDF for its efforts,” she said.
Anees Khan, who teaches woodwork at the NCA, said she was happy to see the work on display. “The kids are really talented. The work they produced in just three months is amazing. It shows that we have the talent but need to create opportunities for the youth,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2015.