Helps Adolescents Turn Passion into Profession (November, 2013)
By A. Sami Malik
17-year-old Zarri Yousaf has an ambition to become a dress designer and an
entrepreneur. Her passion for making beautiful dresses and the desire to help
her family attain social status and a comfortable living is her motivation to
pursue both formal education and vocational training.
“I dream of becoming a famous dress designer and owning my own boutique”,
says Zarri. “I realise that it will not be easy because I belong to a poor
family, I have to study, help my mother at home and at the same time learn dress
making, but I am trying and will not give up.”
Zarri (17) is pursuing both formal education and vocational
training for dress making with the ambition to become an entrepreneur in fashion
Zarri belongs to a Christian family that lives in a small two-room house located
in the courtyard of a church in Anarkali area of Lahore. Her father, Yousaf
Masih, is the gateman of the church and the head of a seven-member household.
With his meagre resources, it was not possible for Yousaf to afford Zarri’s
education and pay for her to learn dress making.
“After the prayers on a Sunday, Father Joseph Lewis, who is in charge of
our church, told us that the government has set up vocational training centres
where they teach young girls stitching and sewing”, explains Yousaf. “The
nearest centre is almost 15 kilometres from my house and I was afraid to send my
daughter that far. It is also expensive to commute. But when some other girls
from our community started going to the centre, I allowed Zarri to go with
With financial assistance from the Barclays ‘Building Young Futures’
project, UNICEF Child Protection section has partnered with the Punjab
Vocational Training Council (PVTC) which is managing 174 Vocational Training
Institutes across the province, most of which are in rural areas. The objective
of the project is to impart comprehensive vocational and entrepreneurial skills
to the most excluded adolescents in Punjab province of Pakistan.
During the first phase of
the project, 600 adolescent boys and girls are currently being trained as dress
makers, beauticians, electricians and motor cycle mechanics. Each training
course lasts one year, during which trainees are placed in various industries
and businesses for two months to attain practical experience.
Dress making instructor, Mussarrat Hussain, teaches students how to practice
cutting a pattern for clothing on an old newspaper
Zarri’s talent in dress making gets her special attention from her instructor,
Mussarrat Hussian, who says, “Most of the girls in this class are keen to learn
stitching and sewing but Zarri has a natural flare for designing. She tells me
that she has already started making dresses at home for herself and her sisters.
With this training, girls can not only save the tailoring expense, but can also
earn a decent income. Zarri realises that and I am sure she would do very well
in the future.”
Zarri cuts a piece of cloth to make a shalwar (lower body attire)
as her instructor watches.
The Vocational Training Institute that Zarri attends is called ‘Special House’.
Some of the students in this centre have hearing impairments and the management
takes special care that these students get extra attention from their
instructors. The principal of this centre, Khalid Javid, says, “We want these
students to be able to do well in life just like anyone else. We help our
graduates find jobs in various industries and acquire soft loans to start their
“Most of the students in the centre belong to poor families. Some of them
come from far off areas and commuting is expensive. Each student gets only
Rupees 500 per month for transportation which is not enough. This results in
absenteeism and is a problem for us.”
Zarri and other girls in the dress making class practice
cloth stitching on sewing machines
The second phase of the Barclays–UNICEF partnership was launched early this year
and aims to help tackle youth unemployment by improving the prospects of 10,000
disadvantaged young people in Punjab, thereby strengthening their economic and
social resilience against the devastating challenges of chronic poverty,
inequality and changing economic circumstances.
belonging to excluded communities have limited opportunities to enrol in
vocational training courses that are extensive, comprehensive and most of all
certified by the government, says Shagufta Bhatti, Child Protection Specialist,
UNICEF. “Through this project it is
heart-warming to witness opportunities being provided to marginalized and
excluded adolescents to gain vocational skills and also learn life skills, which
are also part of the training course. I am hopeful that each and every
successful adolescent trainee will make a huge difference not only in supporting
their families but also, after a year, have increased social resilience.”
VTI Green Town, Lahore won British Council South Asian Region “Enterprise
Entrepreneur Award” - 2011.
The National Enterprise Award competition took place in 2010. In which British
Council with collaboration of YES network Pakistan approached 400 colleges in
all major cities of Pakistan and interacted about 1000 students and 400 teachers
with the concept of Social Entrepreneurship. As a result of this interaction
British Council received 400 project proposals from entire country.
The expert of British Council in Pakistan short listed 09 teams and they
arranged competition among these 09 teams in Amir Hotel Lahore on Dec, 10, 2010
and VTI Green Town Team won this competition and Declared as a National Winner
from Pakistan. Rs, 50,000 as prize money for the team members and Rs.100,000
donation for the project were awarded.
In next phase, British Council arranged online Regional competition among the
National Winners of Central and South Asian countries e.g. KAZIKISTAN,
UZBAKISTAN, NEPAL, BANGLADESH, INDIA, AFGHANISTAN & PAKISTAN. This competition
was also won by the team of VTI Green Town, Lahore and all four team members got
prizes of 04 Laptops from British High Commissioner Mr. Adam Thomson in Serena
Hotel Islamabad on March 28, 2011.
The names of the team Members
Team Project is a Small Diagnostic Center for Hepatitis named as “CARE
DIAGNOSTIC CENTER FOR HEPATITIS”
VTI Green Town won British Council -
The National Challenge 2010
The National Enterprise Award challenge took place in Lahore in December 2010
being the third National Challenge in Pakistan. This time we reached out to 400
colleges in all major cities of Pakistan and interacted with over 1000 students
and 400 teachers with the concept of social entrepreneurship. As a result of
this interaction we received more than 200 project proposals from the entire
Our team of expert shortlisted nine teams from which the team from Vocational
training institute Green Town Lahore was declared the winner. They won Rs.50,000
in addition to 100000 they requested for their project and a chance to
participate in the regional final which will be held online as last year.
News Details @ British Council Web Site
Poverty No barrier to creativity
(Jhang to london)
British Council is running skills for employability project in vocational
education and training in 6 countries in Central and South Asia. Under this
program with the collaboration of Youth Engagement Services (YES) Network
Pakistan, British Council launched the “Youth Social Entrepreneurship Award”al Entrepreneurship Award”
300 TEVT institutes including PVTC Training School (VTI) at Jhang
participated in this competition
VTI Jhang team, was declared winner among the participants.
This team from Pakistan, VTI Jhang, was declared to be the winner of final
competition getting price money of £ 2,500 and a camcorder
Prize ceremony was held at London on March 9 – 11, 2009
VTI Jhang Team Members at London