Document Actions

Dalit Shakti Kendra

Dalit Shakti Kendra is more than just a vocational training center.

Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), a joint initiative of Navsarjan and Janvikas, is located in Village Nani Devti, about 30 kilometers from Ahmedabad, Gujarat. It was founded in July 1999, and was given its current name in 2003.  Several thousands of students have now completed courses at DSK.

Literally translating to "Dalit Empowerment Center", DSK is primarily a vocational training center serving economically and socially marginalized youth.  However, it also provides personality development, leadership skills, social and political education, and a space for self-reflection and growth. A central part of DSK’s philosophy is a redefinition of the word "Dalit”, thereby including Dalits from various economic, social and religious backgrounds.

Most of DSK’s students are landless, and have dropped out of school to work in the labor sector. Typically, their parents are farmers. DSK mobilizes such youth for economic and social empowerment—helping them leave the cycle of agricultural labor and caste-based occupations—and simultaneously fosters better grassroots leadership.

DSK offers more than 20 different courses, including tailoring (pants, shirt, blouse for sari, salwar kameez, and industrial), furniture, driving, beautician, basic computers, computer tally, secretarial training, handicrafts and decoration, electric wiring, auto mechanic, police training, mobile phone repairing, videography, photography, machinist, motor rewinding, metal fabrication and welding.

A recent study determined that in comparison to vocational training centers run by the government—many of which have courses that stretch as long as two years—graduates of DSK have a higher rate of job placement.

Below, please find information on the impact DSK has made, as well as some of the challenges it has faced.

Impact

  • Students take DSK’s message of equality back to their homes and communities.
  • More and more students are coming to DSK, because they see the success of their friends who have come to DSK.
  • It has reached the point that students for some courses have to be turned away because there is not enough space for them, even though we have increased capacity (for example, from 15 students to 45 in the computer course).
  • More female students are attending DSK: the 50% mark has been achieved, and a reduction in gender bias can therefore be seen.
  • More parents are now pushing for their daughters to come, because they are seeing positive changes in their daughters.  They are less afraid to send their daughters because they see that they come back with more maturity. 
  • Students come from more sectors of society, including Muslims, OBC, and Tribals.
  • About twice a month, visitors from other organizations who want to emulate DSK and use it as a successful model visit the campus.
  • Industries of the private sector who want affirmative action instead of reservation have been approaching DSK to help absorb students as employees (TATA, Ambuja Cement, etc.).
  • Employability of students: about 50% plus of students find employment immediately after training. 
  • It is difficult for DSK to find new teachers from the pool past students, because many are employed and do not want to leave their jobs. 
  • Many youth who had been unemployed in their villages have now become income earners for their families.

Challenges

  • Developing plans to set up additional satellite centers to reduce the reliance on DSK.
  • Finding resources to fund DSK is difficult; the students cannot afford to pay the total cost required.
  • Finding new vocational courses to keep pace with changing market demands.
  • Most students who come to DSK are school dropouts, so finding a balance in competitiveness is difficult.
  • The correlation between primary education and vocational education is close, so tailoring primary education initiatives to positively affect the vocational training initiative is a challenge.
  • The disparity between boys and girls in both urban and rural societies provides a constant challenge, especially in terms of education level.
  • It is difficult to maintain technical expertise while not leaving behind girls and boys with low education levels.
  • Parents are not ready to spend money on girls in compare with the boys.

DSK in the News

The Indian Express: Dignified means of life still a long way for Valmikis