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# «SIMM ® EDUCATION A N D E M P L O Y M E N T OF THE BLIND - THE CASE OF WEST BENGAL Bikas C. Sanyal, P. K. Giri, M. Roychowdhury, A. K. Pati,. ...»

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Non-response : 5 We attempted to verify if the incidence of employment is dependent on some characteristics of the respondents such as age, sex, region of home (urban/rural), respondent's own education, etcQ For this purpose we used the -technique of discriminant analysis о When -the dependent variable is a simple dichotomy, discriminant analysis is a convenient technique for multivariate analysis in order to predict a dichotomous outcome from a number of variables with different scaling characteristics« This is very similar to regression analysis tech­ nique» A number of variables are used as predictors. They are given dif­ ferent weights to maximize the accuracy of prediction. The criterion (dependent) variable in discriminant analysis is not a single continuous

- 68 variable as in the case of regression analysis. It is a set of mutually exclusive categories. The objective is to predict in which category an individual would belong. The predictor variables with highest coefficients would predict the category best. The procedure locates a vector or vectors (called discriminant functions) in the total predictor space that best separate the categories of the individuals. The maximum number of discriminant functions is the smaller of the number of variables used or the number of categories on the outcome (dependent) variable. Since we are dealing with two categories of the outcome variable (employed and unemployed), no more than one vector could be obtained. The standardized canonical discriminant function coefficient for each discriminating variable gives the relative contribution to that function, when the associated sign is ignored«, The sign denotes whether the variable is making a positive or negative contribution» From these coefficients one could compare the relative importance of each discriminating variable on the dependent variableTo predict the employability of the trained blind, it was assumed that educational level of the respondent, having a stop-gap job, age, region of home, sex, parents' education, and extent of blindness are important variables« Table 6.3 shows that having a stop-gap job is the most powerful predictor of employment, followed by age and home region. It is striking to note that influence of the duration of respondent's education on employment is strongly negative. This needs explanation. An unemployed blind person continues to undergo training because of the freely available facility open to him, and the longer a blind person in our sample has remained unemployed, - h longer he had been undergoing some kind of training« ce This is reflected by a very strong negative coefficient associated with the variable "duration of education" of the blind individual» It can also be observed that sex, parents' education, and extent of blindness do not influence employability significantlye 6e3 Present employment and relation with training An analysis was carried out to examine what kind of training the blind undertake' and what kind of occupation such training helps the blind to have. If the occupation and the training are matched well, the situation would be favourablee If they are completely unrelated, the situation would

- 69 Table 603a

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call for betterment. Since our study is biaised towards the blind who had gone through some kind of education or training, obviously most of them would have some academic traininge It is observed that every individual in regular employment had some academic training and except 15 (17%) of them all had some kind of vocational education» Our interest now is to find out what kind of training is most popular and how this training is related to the occupation he/she holds in regular employment In table 6.4 we can seo v/rat kind of vocational training the employees, with different levels of academic education, had taken and the nature of their job. It can be observed that among the 88 persons having regular employment, 49 (55.7%) had technical education, 32 (36.4%) had training in crafts, weaving, sewing, etc, (denoted by "others" in the table and henceforth to be called "crafts" by the first item), 24 (27.3%) in music and only 1 (101%) in agriculture and animal husbandry« It is to be noted that among the 73 persons having vocational education nearly 45% had taken more than one type of course.

In respect of the relationship between vocational training and academic training,, it can be observed that those who had undertaken vocational traiYiing have come from a wide range of academic training (from acquaintance with the 3 Rs to post-graduate level). The three levels of academic training - higher (graduate and post-graduate level), medium (up to class XII) and lower (up to VIII) have combined differently with technical training, In - h higher level, we find that 25% had technical training, whereas in the te

- 70

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medium and lower levels such persons constitute 61.1% and 63„9% respectively of the total. In the case of music, the corresponding percentage figures are 25, 25 and 31.6, and in the case of crafts, 25, 41.7 and 31.1. There is practically no relationship between the type of vocational training one undertakes and the formal education one possesses. One thing is, however, clear, that the higher the level of one's academic education, the lower is one's chance of taking technical education. In respect of occupation, we observe from table 6.4 that out of 24 regular employees who had gone through training in music, 8 work in the service sector and 2 even in production.

Of the 49 employees who had technical training, 19 are in the service sector and 8 in clerical or sales work. Ail these indicate the weakness of the relationship between the training and the job. A similar picture is also there in the case of those who had training in crafts0 But there are cases also where we find good matching» Another thing to be noted is that there are 31 individuals among the regular employees who had taken training in two or three vocations» There are persons, for example, in production who had taken training in music and/or crafts, besides technical training» The tz¿Lining in such cases can be said to have broadly matched with the job.

From table 6.5 we find that in the case of self-employed persons there is a gocd match between training and jobs in most cases» 75% of the selfe-uc 1 ci'ее persons are engaged in agriculture and/or animal husbandry. Except one, all such persons had training in the corresponding vocation. In this case most of the persons, had lower level education»

When asked if the blind person perceives his training as related to the actual needs of the job, the response was in the affirmative in two out of three cases. Out of a total number of 134 regular blind employees sur­ veyed, 104 responded to the question, 37 (35.6%) were of the opinion that there was no relation between the content of training he/she had and the skill needs of the job, and the rest (64.4%) asserted that there was a relationshipо In fact, the situation is worse. In the absence of a con­ tent analysis of the job and the education/training, it is difficult to establish the actual magnitude of the correspondence between training and employment. When a subjective analysis is made as was done in our case, the findings would only give the direction and the magnitude would not be It is true that there exists a "mismatch"1 between training and reliable.

- 74 employment, as we have found that the length of studies has a negative relationship with the incidence of employment0

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We have already noted the phenomenon of stop-gap jobs before the blin enter regular employment„ We have noted that 76 respondents of our sample of 225 undertook such jobs» We had also noted before s the relationship between these jobs and the previous training. While we wanted to know to what extent the regular jobs of the respondents correspond to the stop-gap jobs, it appeared that only 2 out of 5 respondents found any correspondence between the two«, This means that not only stop-gap jobs were better related to the previous training, such a relationship could not be maintained while accepting a regular job* This would signify that the blind person would"be taking any job obtainable without caring for what interest him/her or his/her experience0 Table 6.6, Relation of present employment with stop-gap job

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6=5 The working environment of the blind The "modern sector of employment has been only recently opened to the blind population» One would expect a lot of problems of adaptation of both the sighted and the blind to the place of work« We are concerned with the blind and particularly whether he/she perceives that the working environment is congenial to his/her work. Often it is surmised that the blind person is given a job out of compassion and piety and not because he/she can contribute to the production of the: firm,, On the other hand, it is also hypothesized that a blind person is subject to exploitation, injustice and discimination, since his power of negotiation is limited* One would then like to know, given the same qualification and experience, how the blind person perceives his/her position in a firm as related to a sighted co-worker.

Our evidence of this opinion poll is reassuring - out of 90 regular employees 84 thought his/her position in the concern was, on the whole, the same as that of a sighted worker„

- 75 Another indicator for assessing the working environment developed by us was the attitude of the sighted worker towards the blind as perceived by the latter. We identified four types of attitude, e.g. compassionate, comrade-like, indifferent and denigrating, as if on a scale of gradual deg­ radation of the attitude» It is interesting to note that most of the sighted workers (67,8%) attitude is compassionate, followed by comrade-like feeling (2404%)0 None of the sighted workers. had been denigratingy only one out of twelve has been indifferent» Naturally, a blind worker would like to be treated as a comrade rather than being sym­ pathised "withy but compassion is an oriental trait. As the society gets more and more industrialised, a better appreciation of the capacity of the blind would be possible and one could expect a shift in the attitude from compassion to comrade-like feeling of the sighted towards the blind« How­ ever« if this summarized, subjective assessment has any sense, one would tend to believe that the blind worker is happy in his work so far as the attitude of the sighted worker towards him is concerned.

The same type of phenomenon is noted while employers5 behaviour towards the blind is assessed by the latter0 Only two cases have been cited to be indifferent and another two unfavourable out of ninety respon­ 86 of them (95.6%) found the employers0 attitude towards them dents о favourablee In summary one might observe that the blind man finds his working environment congenial to him. In a sense it is obvious« Life of a blind person at home or in the street is hard«, His dependence on society tortures hiiüc Once he is independent or at least contributing something to the society and to the family he feels his identity in society and feels like coming cut of the shackles of bondage of incapacity and invalidity. He is relieved:. Whatever may be the working condition he is happye But the scci'sry has more to do. Once it has been discovered that the blind can contribute, can be self-reliant and can cater for others' needs, when the attitudinai blindness of the sighted is cured, much more will have to be done о

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only on the work environment, it depends on the relationship between the training' and employment, career possibilities on the job, justice in respect of a reward system and also his own feeling about the extent to which he himself is doing justice to society.(the phenomenon of "divine discontent5 among the most successful persons is not unknown in India).

Whatever may be the factors behind the feeling, one out of three blind employees is not satisfied with his job - a substantially high rate for the group finding the work environment so conducive I It should be mentioned that 116 employees out of a total of 134 employees surveyed responded to this question and 42 were not satisfied, 2 indifferent and 72 satisfied with the job« Some material aspects will be analysed in the following section to identify if the reason for dissatisfaction is something which can be articulated and corrective action suggested«,

- 77 Table 6 e 8 u job satisfaction and related characteristics

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72 (62.1) 2 (1.7) 42 (36,2)

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6„7 Employment career and income While analysing the characteristics of the employment market for the blind, we. thought it would be useful if we could identify how the mobility in career takes place as perceived by the blind person himself* In regular employment for the sighted, two criteria are noted most freqently as being responsible for upward career mobility. These are: seniority on the job and academic/professional excellence achieved through further training, There is a host of other criteria, each one of them having some influence on promotion but for simplicty we lumped them as "others". Although response was only from 30 employees, it was interesting to note that 26 of them (86.7%) cited "seniority" as the criterion for promotion. Only one of them thought

- 78 that further training was the criteria for promotion. Evidence on the lack of relationship between training and employment mounts as we proceed. This may be one of the reasons for dissatisfaction on the job which credits the length of duration and not the excellence of the individual.

Another attitudinal variable indicating if the salary of a regular employee was commensurate with his duty and training was analysed. It was found that one out of five regular employees thought that the salary was not commensurate with his duty, while one out of three thought that the salary was not commensurate with his training. Giving already a subjective assessment of the relationship between training and salary, 87 regular employees responded to the question on duty and 82 to the question on training out of 90 regular employees. "Another aspect of the employment market is the reward system.

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