Vocational training empowers impoverished women
A community-based program has been successful in educating over 200 women a year by providing literacy and vocational skills to help them improve their livelihoods.
The program was previously part of the non-profit ROLE Foundation, but starting this week, it has been set up separately as a program called Bali WISE (Bali Women and Girls International Skills Education).
Bali WISE estimates that over 200,000 women are illiterate on the island, and close to 500,000 women lack the necessary vocational training required to secure a job in the current market.
“As traditional jobs in agriculture and fisheries have disappeared on the island in recent years, there is a need to educate women in vocational skills to help them find jobs and reduce overall poverty,” Bali WISE’s representative Anna Durward told Bali Daily on Friday.
Focusing on helping women from the island’s deprived areas, the program provides life skills and vocational training in five fields: cooking, serving, retail, housekeeping and spa, at its learning and development center in Nusa Dua.
It is also targeting to foster a culture of ongoing learning to encourage the transfer of learned skills from women to children, so that the welfare of disadvantaged and poor families can be improved in a sustainable manner.
“With support from local and overseas companies and individuals, we are able to give back to Bali in a sustainable and meaningful way through the education of women and girls,” Mike O’Leary, CEO of ROLE Foundation and founder of Bali WISE, said.
Durward said Bali WISE constantly had new students starting on a weekly basis, particularly in the literacy class. There are currently 40 women and children enrolled in the program.
“Currently, we have seven vocational students working in our restaurant and shop, and two of them have been permanently hired as staff.”
“We have 14 students being trained by Ayana resort and spa in cooking, cleaning and spa. We also educate 80 beach cleaners two times a week,” she said.
With Bali WISE being separated from the ROLE Foundation and its programs focusing on environmental issues, the foundation expects to have more support and involvement from their stakeholders because they will be able to clearly identify which program they are particularly passionate about.
“Our plan is to double the intake of students and hire more teachers and an education manager to implement a new curriculum. We plan on having skilled professionals like chefs, massage therapists and retail managers come and educate the students at our education center,” Durward added.
She said Bali WISE was targeting reaching out to girls and women from other underprivileged areas throughout Bali.
At this stage, the teachers only recruit students from the local Nusa Dua area because they have many other tasks day to day.
“That is why we want to employ an education manager, so that this person can promote and go out to other areas and invite women to our center. Once we have more staff and volunteers on board we can broaden our target market and capacity.”
Being a student at the learning center has given valuable experience to 40-year-old Made Sukarmi from Sawangan, Nusa Dua.
Before joining the program in 2009, she did not have a permanent job, although she is the breadwinner of the family. Her last job was working as a painter on a construction project.