Friday, December 3, 2010

Project Dignity

9th Oct

The week ended smoothly. Food is ready, the students are ready and now to focus on the teaching.

I always believe learning is very important part of living. The Chinese saying "huo dao lao, xui dao lao" or "live till old learn till old". Never stop learning it make life more interesting. I also believe that knowledge dies with you. Imagine you spend all your life learning and culminating all the paper qualification and when you die, its all gone. SO knowledge gain in your lifetime should be shared.

For Dignity Kitchen the idea of learning is to take MBA education which so many of us is pursuing and share with the hawkers for example in marketing there is the 4 P's or in purchasing there is the supply chain management concept. the art is how to tune MBA education to hawker level. Never try never know.

The training for Dignity Kitchen starts at 2 pm to 4 pm every day from Monday to Friday. On top of culinary skills by chef, the soft skill training include
- basic accounting (which also include understanding banking and finance)
- basic food costing (for the cost of a noodle dish what is the cost component)
- basic marketing (taking the 5 P's of marketing and applied to hawker business)
- purchasing (think of supply chain management and hawker business)
In total 16 subjects

Finding trainer is not an issue, finding a trainer who can relate to a hawker business is the real issues. Not an easy quest. In the course of the last weeks, we have approached Polytechnic lecturers, school teachers and even consultant trainers. (For the accounting, I even approach partner of one of the big four accounting firm. He is good but do not have the time to spare.) By the way we pay for trainers.

After we get the trainers, the next issue is to get the student to learn. For these students, most of them are not study-friendly and has tendency to either fall asleep in class or skip the class altogether. Initially we insist that the classroom lesson is compulsory or else no allowance given out for that day. On our part we have to make the class teaching interesting and engaging. Fortunately we have a good English speaking trainer.

There is another aspect of training that is not in the textbook. Training the disabled to perform a component of the hawker trade.

Training the Blind Boy to be a cashier. He is visually handicap from birth and depend on his other senses to live his day. Our task is that we need to understand money and how the visually handicap manage their money. The key issue which is the toughest to built their confidence of the disabled to manage money. This is something that we sighted people take for granted. After a visit to the Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped, we came up with three method. This is by no way exhaustive. There will be other methods for other visually handicapped which I believe can be better.
Started on training for the blind. Being a hawker is never an option for the blind, I believe there was never a blind hawker in Singapore's history, for a simple fact is that the blind will not be able to qualified for a hawker license. I know I asked. It was then a challenge to train a blind hawker and my Blind student Manese is a very good candidate. Blind feel by touching and when you are dealing with food, touching food is not a hygienic option. After studying all the role in the food stall, the best job function is that of a cashier for the hawker stall.

Like something out of the textbook of F W Taylor on method study, we device several method to help the blind to operate as a cashier.
First the environment
- we modify the ordinary cashier machines to Braille ( a voice response cashier machine will cost US$ thousands)
- a bell to signal a customers
- a ergonomic position of every thing within his reach including the voice response calculator

Then the method to handling money. So for our Blind Boy, we have develop three methods

Method 1 - use the braille that is on the top right hand of the dollar note
Method 2 - fold the money into a triangle and gauge against your index finger
Method 3 - hold the dollar note between the two hands with the finger touching.

Once the method is finalised, the rest is just practiced. Every other money, the Blind Boy will be subject to several tests
1. given a series of notes and asked to identified (Can do $2 to $50 and all the coins)
2. given a series of addition and subtraction
3. use of the POS cashier machine

Then it is repeated every day till he get it right.