400 to graduate from Berbice outreach centre
Stabroek News
October 20, 2002

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On October 26, the Roadside Baptist Church Skills Training Centre will hold its ninth graduation exercise.

This graduation will be one of great significance for the Centre, which has been in operation since 1995, when four hundred students coming all the way from Orealla to Black Bush Polder collect their certificates.

The Centre, named after the Roadside Baptist Church at Number 68 Village, Corentyne was opened by Pastor Katryan and his wife Yetrawatee Katryan as an outreach centre based on a needs assessment project in the community of Corentyne and Corriverton.

With the help of several donor agencies, the Centre has been able to help residents become independent and allow them the privileges to start their own businesses. And if by choice they work for others they have been able to earn an income they can survive on.

The non-profit organisation has been able to attain help from many overseas organisations, businesses and volunteers in making its efforts available to many who cannot afford the expensive courses.

The Centre has among other things a well-equipped computer lab and has been able to offer its first course in Information Technology to fifty students this year. Other courses offered are trade skills - electrical/domestic wiring and household appliances; garment making; and craft courses - cake decorating, floral arrangement and cosmetology. Caribbean Council Examination (CXC) subjects are also offered to those who want to advance their studies in English, Mathematics, Food & Nutrition and Typing (a Pitman's Typing course is also offered).

The literacy programme offered by the Centre caters for the very young to the very old and has attracted forty adults this year who are given one-on-one training that starts from ABC.

All these courses are certified by the Adult Education Association.

This year through a UNICEF programme, the Centre has been able to offer a course in Social Work with the students being trained in counselling skills, parenting skills, drug awareness and domestic violence awareness. This course was certified by the Institute of Distance and Continuing Education.

All the programmes and services offered by the Centre are open to the public and training has been provided at Crabwood Creek, Corriverton, No 68, 43, 53, Black Bush Polder and Orealla Village.

Many may wonder how it's possible for the Centre to survive financially. Simple, the Katryan's have been able to attract the help of many volunteers and trainers who are from Georgetown and overseas to go there and train the students, who in turn become trainers themselves in an ongoing process. Some of the courses have a cost recovery fee- derived by the duration and nature of the course being offered. This is used to pay instructors, maintain equipment and offset overheads - telephone, electricity.

There is also a stationery centre, a snackette, a sewing centre and a library which help in providing additional income. The Centre also has an ongoing twice-weekly nutrition programme, which is sponsored by Mr Rick Ramdin, and feeds children from identified nursery and primary schools in the area.

Some of the funding agencies that have helped the Centre over the years are the Japanese Embassy, CIDA's Building Community Capacity Project, UNICEF, New Building Society, Banks DIH, United Nations Development Programme, the British High Commission and Food for the Poor. Additional support comes from the community both individuals and businessmen.

For the seven years it has been in operation, the Centre can boast that more than two thousand persons have benefited from the courses they have had to offer, and as such the Centre has established a micro credit programme to assist the students in starting their own small business or to improve on existing ones.

The graduation ceremony will be chaired by President of the Berbice Chamber of Commerce, Ramdial Bookmohan and the guest speaker will be Minister of Human Services, Bibi Shadick.