In the greater Chennai region, many women resort to sex-work in order to survive. As a result, there are nearly 10,000 children of sex-workers that are ostracized from their communities, keeping them from acquiring the skills needed for gainful employment.
Ray Umashankar and Abishek Kumar founded a program to help train these children so they will be able to find employment. ASSET teaches these children valuable skills such as computer programming, accounting, and other skills useful in the IT and Business Process Outsourcing that are booming in Chennai. Currently, the children are learning essential Microsoft Office tools.
Once students complete the course, ASSET works with local placement agencies (i.e. Ma Foi) to find them jobs. Most of the IT and BPOs offer jobs for 4-5 hours per week where employees can earn an average of 5,000 rupees.
In order for the ASSET Center to be successful, the project leaders work closely with IT companies and BPOs to develop a curriculum that teaches the specific skills the companies look for in potential employees. Also, since all public instruction is taught in English, the ASSET Center is in the process of finding a volunteer organization to help find English tutors to help the students.
Currently, classes are 15 hours per week. Students take three classes, which run 4-6 hours each. To encourage students to attend, each student receives travel vouchers to pay for their transportation fees. Upon finishing the course, students receive a certificate of completion.
As a result of the success of the ASSET Center in Chennai, there are several plans for a major expansion of the project.
- Have one instructor in each center that will run three classes for three batches of students.
- 3 centers established by March (two in Chennai, one in Gorapur)
- Centers established in five cities by the end of 2007
- 10-15 Placement organizations for employment for each center
- 5 NGO partners in each city to help with outreach and support
- Make the entire program community-run
- Hire country manager by 2008
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