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LEDP: A blessing for students' employability development

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09th-Sep-2018       
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Khalid Hasan :
Every year thousands of students most of whom are rooted in the lower-middle-class family come to Dhaka in pursuit of fortune find it difficult to keep pace with the high cost of living prevailed in the city. While they are much inquisitive to make some penny for their day-to-day survival, the dearth of part-time job especially for students makes things worse crafting distressed among the youths. It is vivid for Shariful Islam who, after getting admitted into Dhaka University, had to go through a belligerent period. His poor father, the only earning member of his family could not come up with the money for Tk. 5000 per month that was the tiniest sum for him to survive in Dhaka. He vowed to look for a part-time job or a private tuition knocking all of his seniors and relatives staying in Dhaka, but none could comfort him in it.
In 2014, Shariful came across the news that the ICT Division is going to provide training in freelancing skills such as graphic design, web designing and development and digital marketing for free to unemployed fresh graduates countrywide. The news enthralls him. After filling up the online registration form and participating in Online Examination through his friend's laptop, he finally got a chance to attend a 50-day/200 hour training program in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) earlier this year.
Since the training program ended, Shariful bought an old desktop computer from a senior brother of his department with the money that he was paid for participating in the project. Shariful then went on to make his profile on the large online marketplace such as Fiverr and Upwork.
Within a month of joining, Shariful had a successful bid on Fiverr and received quite a number of good reviews on his profile. He saw tremendous success and became a Level 1 seller over the course of the next three months. His first withdrawal was $ 400 or about Tk. 33 thousand which he made to buy a new laptop for his job. Now, he is a Top Rated seller on Fiverr and his earning is at least $ 1000 dollar or about Tk. 83,000 monthly on an average which enables him to support himself as well as his family expenditures. Shariful express his gratitude saying, "LEPD has completely changed my life. Now, I offer training and job opportunity for my fellow brothers and sisters of my campus."
Comparable to Shariful Islam, thousands of skilled freelancers have been churned out throughout the country by the Learning and Earning Development Projects (LEDP) of ICT Division. Tamanna Sultana, a student of Govt. Rajbari College and a trainee of Rajbari district, says, "I had an interest in freelancing already but there was no such institution available to train up and support freelancing in Rajbari. LED was a blessing for me. After successfully completed the training on graphics design, I went on making a profile on Fiverr with the help of my trainers and mentors. Soon, I got my first order in March this year. Since then, I have been working successfully with a number of buyers from different countries. Now I'm a Level 2 seller on Fiverr keeping five-star ratings"
According to a recent survey by the LEDP, 485 students out of 1560 students who participated in the training program of Dhaka division have been working successfully for foreign clients competing with workers worldwide in the online marketplace and their collective income in different districts of Dhaka is $ 41539 or Tk. 33 lakh 26 thousand 320. The survey found that youths in different districts of the country have been able to increase their skills as well as raise their income through the training program.
Sadat Mahmud, a professional graphic designer and a trainer of LEPD, says, "Most of the students of public university struggle to find a private tuition as there is no other part-time job opportunity available for Bangladeshi students. On the contrary, Bangladeshi talents are better suited for visual communications like graphic design, web development, web design, animation and other digital skills. If we can utilize their potentials, they can support themselves in their student life as well as contribute to the country's economy."
Project Director Mirza Ali Ashraf said, "The journey of learning and earning project started in 2014. The goal of earning five million US dollars through the project has been set. Thirteen thousand people have been trained in 650 batches in 64 districts across the country and of them, 5680 people have earned $ 4,30,474 from freelancing in the different online marketplace."
A study by the Oxford International Institute suggests that Bangladesh provides the 2nd highest number of freelancers of the world. Experts emphasize that an increasing focus on 'quality work' is crucial to sustaining the growth rate of Bangladesh freelancers. Although short-term training program is not enough to create skilled freelancers, LEDP has already proved it to be the most successful employment generation projects in the history of Bangladesh by helping Shariful, Tamanna, and thousands other to become self-dependent.

(The writer is a graduate student of the Department of Educational Administration at the Institute of Education & Research of Dhaka University).

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