CLEVELAND, Ohio — Education is a critical factor in helping to reduce poverty around the world. However, there are different types of education and the approach of using vocational education to reduce poverty is essential. Vocational training allows people to acquire specific skills for different types of jobs, mainly for technical or commercial trades, such as electricity or sewing.
The Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) is an institute which consists of various divisions to contribute to education throughout Pakistan. Specifically, one of its components is SZABIST ZABTech, a Pakistani institution that provides “integrated technical education and vocational training service” and targets youth to alleviate poverty and unemployment. Project Borgen spoke with Waheeda Mahesar, Director of SZABIST ZABTech (iTVE) to dig deeper into the institution and its impact in the country.
ZSABIST and education
SZABIST plays several roles in Pakistan’s education sector and has four different units. One aspect of the organization is its university. SZABIST University is a degree-granting institution, offering a variety of programs, including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The institution has campuses located in five different cities, four in Pakistan and one in the United Arab Emirates.
Another aspect is SZABIST ZAB-ed, which promotes essential education for young people, mainly primary schools and colleges in a few cities in the Sindh region of Pakistan. As the region faces a multitude of challenges and a shortage of resources, this section of the organization must “contribute to the fight to improve the general level of education”.
Finally, SZABIST ZABTech is a section of the institution that goes beyond standard primary and university education by also promoting technical and vocational training (TVET).
Objective of SZABIST ZABTech
The ZSABIST Institute of Technical and Vocational Education (iTVE) came into being in 2000 and since then it has extended its reach all over Pakistan. The initial goal of SZABIST was to provide employment opportunities to educated people.
The institute wanted to train people in skills that would make them more attractive candidates for employers, such as in management or accounting. However, as Waheeda Mahesar told Project Borgen, the founders of ZABTech created the institution not only to help young people who have an education but lack the skills required for the workforce, but also to help young people who are not in school and provide them with another means of having a stable education. use. Although this was the intention, there have been difficulties in recruiting people from rural and semi-rural areas. Mahesar explained that the organization was to engage in “social mobilization”, where they went “door to door, village to village”. [and]had several seminars [alongside]motivational speeches” to appeal to poor areas of Pakistan.
Mahesar also mentioned that one of the main ways they took to attract people to the institution was to focus on women. According to Mahesar, “in the context of Pakistan, women have not been… [the]a suitable place or platform and for them there are several challenges,” including means of transport and even the working environment.
ZABTech has designed courses and resources for young women so that they have better opportunities immediately available after completing the courses. For example, instead of regular sewing classes, the institution offers industrial sewing so that they are qualified for factory jobs. Alternatively, if a few people have sewing experience, ZABTech provides assistance in obtaining bank loans so they can start a small business. Along with adequate training, SZABIST ZABTech globally provides people with “toolboxes” so that they find a job as quickly as possible.
To increase accessibility, SZABIST continues to engage in a number of efforts, including the awarding of scholarships, as well as different methods of social mobilization. SZABIST offers several scholarships and means of financial aid for their university, but also for ZABTech.
The organization aims to support young students in need, which is why, according to Mahesar, they have set up a foundation endowed with 5% of the degree-granting institution’s surplus. It uses the money to give needed funds to needy students who have received an acceptance for admission.
On the other side of outreach, ZABTech continues to increase its partnerships to provide more opportunities for students. In July 2020, ZABTech organized a virtual event on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day to bring together “young people, public representatives, policy makers, development partners, technical education and training institutions and professionals and entrepreneurs to talk about the need to help young people develop their resilience to meet the challenges of employment and rethink the role of technical and vocational training (TVET) in [a]post-pandemic scenario.
It is clear that SZABIST wants to help the poor in different parts of Pakistan through different means of education, and social mobilization and fundraising is one aspect of this goal.
The future of SZABIST
Currently, 80% of SZABIST ZABTech (iTVE) graduates find employment and there are more than 38,000 trained students. As one of the largest contributors to TVET in Pakistan, SZABIST ZABTech is determined to continue its expansion by partnering with more industries, government bodies, agencies, etc. and interacting with several different youth communities.
Waheeda Mahesar discussed plans to expand further away from Karachi, into poor and unsuitable areas for young people, as “it is very… important to connect people from the rest of Sindh to Karachi”.
SZABIST is an institution offering a variety of education in Pakistan and by developing its technical and vocational education sector, they are helping to alleviate poverty in the country. Vocational education “quickly enables a person to join the competitive workforce by improving their skills so that they can cope with the rapidly changing technological work and environment,” according to MSES .
SZABIST ZABTech is making a significant impact on the lives of disadvantaged Pakistani youth through education.
– Karuna Lakhiani