The PanIIT Alumni Foundation was set up with an intention to bring the IITian spirit for building India’s first public vocational education system that is economically viable, starting with Jharkhand. “We are an impact-driven organisation, admitting only candidates who are below the poverty line from backward districts and are 100% skill loan-financed to ensure affordable quality education. We are state-financed and co-curated by setting up a non-profit joint venture with the state,” says B Muthuraman, chairman, PanIIT Alumni Reach for Jharkhand (PREJHA) Foundation, a chapter of the PanIIT Alumni Foundation.
He adds that the PREJHA’s market-led approach ensures guaranteed job-placements with top employers. “We are operating with an annual capacity of training 10,000 candidates in Jharkhand. We envision becoming a social unicorn,” he says.
During the first quarter of 2020, the organisation developed the first Covid-19 sample collection mobile lab of India, called the Mobile BSL3 VRDL Lab, in Jharkhand, with a capacity of 1 lakh pooled tests in a month. “It’s a first of its kind facility in the country for Covid-19 and other related testing and research purposes,” says Muthuraman.
Today, the organisation has seven Kaushal Colleges and 36 Kalyan Gurukuls training more than 18,000 youth. While Kalyan Gurukuls assure placement-linked skill development of marginalised communities and in Naxal-affected areas, Kaushal Colleges work towards enhancing competency for employability through 1-2 year vocational education courses. “We assure 100% placement as the demand for jobs is identified prior to the start of training through structured, multi-year MoUs with employers and projected personnel requirement,” adds Muthuraman.
The pandemic and the ensuing mass reverse migration made us realise the importance of organising migratory labour and building capacity in the public healthcare system. The PanIIT Alumni Foundation, Muthuraman adds, has been doing grassroots level work on both these areas and foresees contributing positively to resolving these issues in the long run. “We are bringing together Samaj, Sarkar and Bazaar to create an impact-driven convergence, contributing towards the public vocational education system that is economically viable through institutionalised partnerships in low HDI. We hope to positively impact over 21 lakh people with livelihood opportunities in the next five years, of which 11 lakh will be women across underserved communities,” he adds.
For funding, the PanIIT Alumni Foundation reaches out to various companies and contracts to gain placement opportunities for their beneficiaries. “We have partnered with the NABARD to finance NGOs and other social organisations that help in sourcing of students for the training centres and also arrange for loans to enable them to pay for this training. Students are then trained in the ‘Gurukuls’, and at the end of the training process are also placed for on-the-job training, following which they repay their loans through monthly instalments that are deducted from their salaries,” Muthuraman adds. This, he says, generates a pool of funds for the next training cycle.
Over the last 10 years, the foundation has established a collaborative model with governments and businesses as stakeholders and delivered at scale on a self-sustainable, job-assured, loan-funded vocational skilling model, enhancing the incomes and livelihoods of the underprivileged.