Skill training is another significant segment of the community human resource development programs of Alfalit. Alfalit- Liberia first piloted skill training early 2013 out of a small size grant of $15,000 for its “Sew-to-Sell” project. More than 30 women who had acquired literacy up to six grade equivalent and interested in tailoring as discipline enrolled in the pilot project. Certainly, it was a small beginning, giving the size of Alfalit Literacy work in Liberia. Thousands of students flooded the head office with calls, requesting immediate enrollment in the skill training activities. It was unrealistic for every student to obtain entry at once, but the hope was, skill training was being introduced for the first time at Alfalit Liberia.
Skill Training Program of Alfalit Liberia came as a response to literacy students’ appeal across the country. They had continuously asked for the opportunity for life skill development enhancing their acquired literacy for a full grown economic empowerment. The request for hands-on skills came out of every literacy intervention in both rural and urban communities. Come to think about it, literacy skills for adults are almost needless if it does not apply or help to improve the recipient’s standard of living.
So in 2013, the first skill, tailoring was chosen as an easy business venture needed in all communities. A mother could make the suits of her family members, a the same time sew and sell to the rest of the community. At home or in commercial shops, tailoring is still effective and useful as an income generating medium. So one can categorically say Alfalit made no mistake to start its skill training program with tailoring, which is useful for home arts and business purpose.
It turned convincing that the skill training pilot project at the end of 2013 was workable alongside literacy program; therefore, the need for expansion and vibrancy became impressive. As a matter of fact, literacy correlates very perfectly with skill training as a feeder program to the latter. Program scope and budget expanded to three skill training centers in Montserrado and Margibi Counties in 2014. Student enrollment obviously extended to more than 200 literacy graduates and other community dwellers who necessarily did not attend the literacy program. Incorporating others from the community beyond Alfalit students only speaks more to Alfalit’s openness to communities its activities affect. Skill training centers on the Old Road, 72nd Community and Herbal Margibi have operated smoothly with every student accessing a manual tailoring machine, monthly supplied practice materials and experienced tailors and seamstresses facilitating student learning.
Notably, Alfalit skill training will turn out to be an effectively big program competing with literacy if funding permits. The expansion of the program goes beyond geographical locations. Including other hands-on skills relevant to small business establishment with triggered down effects on self-employment is a matter of urgency. Skills such as laundry and bath soap making, motor vehicle repairs, carpentry, masonry among others will eventually be included in the expanded skill training program of Alfalit. Undoubtedly, Liberia needs all the academicians, but emphasis placed on developing technicians and people who do handy and skillful work is vital to grassroots economic empowerment.
Experience speaks to the fact that skill training is an expensive venture, compared to literacy. The gadgets and logistics associated with skill training, depending on the kind of skills, are responsible for the high cost of the program. Literacy is much more moderate in cost than skill training. Nevertheless, for the purpose of community human resource development, the huge cost of implementation cannot adequately justify why Alfalit and its partners should attempt to slowdown eliminating human suffering. Livelihood skill development is a powerful weapon against household poverty, especially when the skills developed are utilized to earn money.
As Alfalit celebrates its 10th Anniversary, working with Liberian communities to build capacity and restore the dignity of people, most of whom are women and youth enrolled in the Alfalit programs, we extend appreciation to Alfalit International for the support of the skill training program of Alfalit Liberia. It is our anticipation that skill training will improve delivery, increase number of students and skills/disciplined offered, and expand in geographical coverage to other counties in addition to Montserrado and Margibi. To the current students of the skill training project, dividing their time between basic education and skill training, our heartfelt thanks to you for your burning desire to improve your lives. Thanks to all skill training teachers/facilitators for making the time and selflessly sharing your knowledge and skills with yours students. From Literacy to skill training to the brand new program still folded, all making up Alfalit Liberia, Happy 10th Anniversary. Let’s keep the fire burning!