Skills Development Fund announces new recipients Near East Foundation and Manipal Foundation

The City & Guilds Group has announced grants to two more charities: Jordan-based refugee training project Near East Foundation and pioneering Indian education programme Manipal Foundation. Both charities work to improve education and employment opportunities amongst marginalised groups, including refugees and those living in poverty.

The Near East Foundation (NEF) UK will receive nearly £120,000 over two years to develop an employability and enterprise programme to support refugees and vulnerable people in Jordan. The Manipal Foundation will receive £98,000 over three years, to develop its pioneering Virtual Classroom project in rural India.

Near East Foundation

The grants are the latest from the City & Guilds Group’s £5m Skills Development Fund, which has so far invested in a variety of charities in Ghana, Ireland and the UK. The Fund, which launched in September last year, supports projects and communities to create long-term, sustainable change by improving skills across the world.

NEF UK aims to build more sustainable, prosperous and inclusive communities across the world. Currently Jordan has one of the largest refugee populations, with over 600,000 Syrians and 53,000 Iraqis. The funding from the City & Guilds Group will see NEF UK’s vocational training centres (also known as ‘Siraj’ centres) establishing a network of 24 ‘Master Trainers’ in Jordan. These ‘Master Trainers’ will then go on to train 6,000 vulnerable refugees and Jordanians, enabling them to progress into employment or to establish their own microenterprise.

Manipal Foundation’s Virtual Classroom initiative, which was piloted by seven schools last year, gives rural children access to teachers so they can pass the basic qualifications they need to secure a government job. The Virtual Classrooms use satellite technology which allows one teacher to reach up to 900 pupils at a time. 92% of those students who were part of the pilot project passed their exams.

Manipal Foundation

Speaking about the investments, Dr Ann Limb CBE DL, Trustee of the City & Guilds Group and Chair of the Skills Development Fund Committee said:

‘The Skills Development Fund helps more people across the world to develop their skills and contribute to their local economies. We are thrilled to be supporting both of these worthwhile projects, which do so much to ensure that deprived or marginalised communities develop the skills they need to transform their future. Unless we prioritise training so that people can acquire the skills needed to enter the workforce, we will never truly tackle the barriers to skills development that persist around the world.’

Rabih Yazbeck, Programme Director for the Near East Foundation, UK said:  ‘For vulnerable Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi families, a pillar of NEF’s approach is to help them move from reliance on limited aid to self-sufficiency by connecting them with the tools they need to invest in productive activities and strengthen their economic resilience. NEF is grateful that the City & Guilds Group has decided to collaborate with us on this critical economic development work in Jordan. The contribution will allow us to continue to find innovative and impactful ways to help struggling refugee families and host community families find dignified ways to lift themselves out of dire circumstances.’

Balachandran Warrier, CEO at Manipal Foundation said:  ‘Education is so important for the well-being of individuals and communities. Our Virtual Classroom programme gives children in rural parts of India the opportunity to learn and develop. With the money that the City & Guilds Group is investing, we can continue to change people’s lives through education by reaching even more children.’

You can find out more about the City & Guilds Group's Skills Development Fund here.