Mumbai, April 12 (IANS) The humble roadside cobbler has now been given an opportunity to acquire higher education, courtesy a state government initiative with the Y.B. Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU), a top official said here Friday.
The YCMOU has developed a week-long training programme for cobblers to provide them with advanced work skills and reward them with a certificate.
“This certificate will be valid to obtain loans from nationalised banks and help cobblers buy better equipment or expand their trade and become entrepreneurs,” said YCMOU spokesperson S. Belsare.
The initiative, with a nominal course fee, has been sponsored by the Leather Industry Development of Maharashtra (LIDCOM) and the course was designed by YCMOU vice-chancellor R. Krishnakumar in consultation with several cobblers’ trade organisations and experts like Sanjivni Mahale of the Department of Education of YCMOU and former state minister Babanrao Gholap, he said.
Presently, the course is being introduced in five districts: Dhule, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar, Nashik and Nandurbar, and will later cover the entire state, Mahale said.
Belsare explained that there are around 1.25 million cobblers in the state, including 55 percent in the rural areas, earning an average of Rs.100-150 daily, which barely suffices to maintain their families.
“The need of the services of the cobblers is eternal and will remain till mankind exists on this planet. However, their important skills and knowledge are passed on from generation to generation only as a family tradition. The conventional system of education does not recognise these otherwise high quality skills,” Belsare explained.
Accordingly, the YCMOU developed the one-week skill training programme, taking into consideration the needs of the cobblers. Depending on the response, a more elaborate programme will be implemented later.