Keywords: Bangladesh, vocational training, job placement, neurodevelopmental disorders

PFDA Vocational Training Center

PFDA-VTC being the first formal initiative to open the scope and support in rehabilitating persons with NDDs in Bangladesh, provides learning opportunity, promotes methods to empower young adult/adult PwNDDs for them to utilize their potentials and take part in mainstream society. The VTC has created a model following existing social structure that includes development of curriculum and strong guidelines, monitoring and evaluating systems and an App (called CUMO) for measuring individuals progress based on their level of disabilities. This also includes training of parents, developing special educators and creating social awareness, advocacy, opportunities and non-discriminatory work environment. Employment type includes i) Wage employment (works in mainstream professional environment) ii) Self-Employment (placed in decent business or income generating activities through providing seed money) and iii) Sheltered employment (engaged in employment guided by special educators to meet up their special needs)

About the practice at a glance
Name of OrganisationPFDA-Vocational Training Center
Type of organisationNational NGO and/or Service Provider
Country
of Implementation
Bangladesh
Year started2014
Funding modelProject support from Development Partners

The Centre is a not-for profit organization to develop entrepreneurs for economic development of the society. It is being operated through civil society funding (from founders and friends; foundations’ grants; crowd funding; etc.) and Income from the project itself (earnings from sales; membership fees etc.). Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fund from different corporate agencies and Parents support/donation is also been used. ILO funding for project implementation has also been utilized.

IMPACT

Impact and growth 

The journey started in 2014 with vision to create an all-inclusive society including PwNDDs. To comprehensively address the issue, established a Vocational Training Centre with 6 students which has now grown with 459 learners over the years and with 200 students in queue through massive awareness creation.  

  • engaged 217 PwNDDs in wages employment, 21 in self-employment, 96 in sheltered employment.  
  • organized 500+ awareness campaigns (policy dialogue, street campaign, round table conference, drama, concert, newspaper article etc) 
  • established 9 bakery kiosks in markets operated by PwNDDs  
  • trained 1500 parents for care of PwNDDs 
  • Facilitated formulation of National NDD Protection Act 
Innovation 

NDDs who were ignored, not included in social development planning and considered as burden to the society, engaging in self-development and creating scope for mainstream work for economic development was a revolutionary concept for Bangladesh. The practice, operated outside the conventional model, has proved that these PwNDDs can participate in economic growth and in achievement of SDG goals. 

Target group 

The practice is designed to directly support persons with Autism, Down syndrome, Cerebral palsy, Intellectual and other Neurological disabilities including their parents/caregivers. For sensitization, support is also provided to general population and media personnel and to policy level managers of the government in development of SoP. The practice also develops the capacity of special educators for creating a cohort of special support providers in the communities for PwNDDs and their families. 

Other outcomes 

PFDA-VTC is the first ever initiative to establish institutional vocational training for PwNDDS in Bangladesh. The innovative model is now a time tested initiative to showcase the proven and established capacity for persons with NDDs and has influenced formulation of National Strategy for PwNDDs in Bangladesh. Government has shown interest in this approach and is in discussion to adopt. In the meanwhile government has revised the corporate policies to initiate tax rebate for employed PwNDDs. 

THEORY OF CHANGE

We asked projects to outline their impact model (also called Theory of Change) – their main target groups, the key activities they offer these target groups, and what impact they want to achieve:

Target GroupActivityImpactIndicator
People with Neurodevelopmental DisordersSkill building and employmentPurchase Power and dignified livingRate of sustainability in employment and acceptance
Persons with other disabilitiesSkill building and employmentPurchase Power and dignified livingRate of sustainability in employment and acceptance
Senior CitizenConducive Residential supportPeaceful livingQuality of life

REPLICATION EXPERIENCE

We have already replicated our innovation 

PFDA-VTC is replicate the “Life skills-based education, vocational training & employment for the students of Persons with Neuro-Developmental Disorders (PwNDDs)” a successfully tested innovation of PFDA-Vocational Training Center Trust.  

Activities of this time tested model, vocational and job placement, are now being implemented in one centre in Dhaka city. There is a plan to replicate this model in seven other metropolitan cities of Bangladesh namely Chottogram, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Mymensing, Barishal, Khulna and Sylhet. The replication will spread out in such a way that it will accommodate the changes that the organization requires to support not only the innovation but also future improvement efforts. Plan is also there to replicate the Apps model

ORGANISATIONAL CAPACITY AND STRATEGY

Capacity 

Yes, we do have specific human resources available. Our team currently consists of 27 paid staff. 

However, our current budget (400k USD) is not sufficient to allow us to replicate the model properly. 

Sajida Rahman, founder of PFDA-VTC will serve as a project owner for this program, with the necessary skills and seniority. She has been recognized as Ashoka Fellow for her pioneering work in Bangladesh : https://www.ashoka.org/en-us/fellow/sajida-rahman  

Strategy 

PFDA-VTC’s vision is to create an equal opportunity society for all including differently able persons as this is their fundamental rights. The goal of the organization is to develop skills of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). To achieve and sustain the long-term vision it is necessary to develop a wider community through skills development and awareness creation. One of the modalities could be to replicate this initiative model in-country as well as globally. The trustee board has full agreement on this plan. 

The aim of the model is to create realistic and acceptable livelihood opportunities for PwNDDs. Objective for next 5 years are to make them competent to perform, facilitate having independent life with dignity, train PwNDDs by improving their activities of daily living and enhancing social skills to bring progress in their alternative livelihood independently, ensure non-discriminatory workplace and to enhance skills of parents/caregivers for employment or other income generating activities. 

PFDA-VTC Center Trust is looking forward in making collaboration with similar organizations to adopt good practices and fulfill targets of SDGs on neuro disable person’s issues. We would like to either strengthen existing network if any, or make a network with the like-minded persons and similar organizations. 

MOTIVATION

Based on own feelings and experience, being a single mother of a child with autism, a very strong determination acted on the founder chairman as her driving force, to ensure a secured and dignified life for her child after her demise. Perhaps all parents knowingly or unknowingly do to prepare a secure life for their children. For her, the effort is much forceful as because the child is with special needs and Bangladesh is not a social welfare country to support the vulnerable people and provide lifelong social security for the productive life.  

As founder chairman of PFDA-Vocational Training Center, she adopted the innovative idea that is best for young adults and adults with PwNDDs considering family structure and socio-economic situation which is now a time tasted initiative to showcase the proven and established capacity for persons with NDDs. 

The model has been successfully implemented in Bangladesh. PFDA-VTC strongly feels that this innovative model has the potential for global spread.  

What is the organisation hoping to learn from taking part in the programme? 

Main questions:  

  • How to design and sustain cross-country transfer of knowledge and skills as an exchange program to benefit both countries facing similar challenges?
  • What process and modalities are available and best suited for effective globalization of good practices?
  • Sharing and networking builds capacity of partnering organizations – is it a myth? 

Challenges: 

  • Strategies on obtaining funding from international donors and development agencies 
  • Strategies to involve into government special education and vocational training system

Hoping to connect with: Corporate agencies, Chain stores, International NGOs working with similar mission, UN agencies i.e., ILO and UNDP, Ministry of Social Welfare of the Government of Bangladesh, selected City Corporations and funding agencies like ADB, The World Bank and other development partners.