Sarojani: Inspiring Journey from School Dropout to Automotive Trainer

She fought gender bias to work in the automobile sector

Sarojani Ratnakar is from a small village called Mudpar in Chhattisgarh. She lives with her father, who is a farmer, her mother, a homemaker, and her two younger siblings. Coming from a marginalized background, opportunities did not come easily to her. Her father’s income was barely enough to make ends meet. Amid such dire financial situation, Sarojani was forced to sacrifice her education.

She dropped out of school after Grade 9 and began looking for work. However, it proved to be a challenge since she hadn’t completed her education and lacked professional skills. During the COVID-19 lockdown, she heard about the automotive course under Pratham Skilling from her friends and enrolled for an online course. It didn’t bother her that she was the only girl in the class; she was determined to complete the course.

While doing the course, Sarojani started looking for a garage where she could practice everything she learned in the class. She met the owner of Geeta Garage in Bilaigarh and convinced him to hire her. The on-the-job training helped her hone her skills and learn more about servicing automobiles. The owner of the garage was impressed with her dedication and hard work and offered her a permanent job. She started with a salary of INR 4,000 per month. At the time, Pratham had asked her if she was interested in joining the organization. That, however, involved relocating to Raipur, the capital city of Chhattisgarh, and she was reluctant to move out of her village.

Almost a month ago, Sarojani’s father suffered a paralytic attack. As a result, her burden of responsibility increased. She was not only responsible for the household expenses but also for the education of her siblings. Pratham again approached her, offering the job of an assistant trainer at the Raipur Automotive Centre. This time, she accepted the offer with a monthly salary of INR 13.5K.

After joining work, Sarojani recently enrolled in Pratham’s Second Chance Program to complete her Grade 10 exams.