While The Handloom School is located in Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, the target beneficiaries, viz. talented young weavers, are accepted as students from all major Hindi-speaking handloom clusters of India.
The Handloom School targets young men and women who belong to traditional weaving communities and families who are active in the weaving tradition today. Talented young weavers who have adopted weaving recently may also be considered eligible for the course. The Handloom School envisions an ideal participant to be between the ages of 16-30 years of age, to have passed their tenth standard examinations, to have a working knowledge of Hindi and English and to have some mastery in at least one aspect of weaving. However, in exceptional cases these prerequisites may be relaxed to accommodate an outstanding candidate.
These students are predominantly from the rural/semi-urban pockets of India with an average monthly family income of less than Rs. 4000. They are part of a critical generation that is unable to imagine the tremendous potential of their skill to boost their livelihood in a rural context but are well positioned to realise that potential with guidance, training and hand-holding.
Students are usually sourced from organizations working in the handloom textile domain and interacting with WomenWeave over a sustained period. This helps ensure proper selection, coordination and future hand-holding of the students. The average batch size is kept to 15 students for effective teacher student interaction.
At present, The Handloom School invites applications for two courses a year – a summer course starting mid-September, and a winter course which typically commences on mid-March.
The Handloom School curriculum looks to engage the best young handloom artisans in the country, in an effort to identify future ambassadors of handloom, who with proper training and guidance have the potential to drive change.
To encourage young professional weavers to participate in the course, The Handloom School pays each student a stipend of Rs. 300 per workday. The stipend is envisaged as a compensation for wage loss incurred while attending the course. Students can save over Rs. 40000 if they do not spend any of their stipend. Many graduates utilize their stipend savings to establish or upgrade their independent business.