Inspiring the next generation of learners – Part 2

19% of India’s population is between 15 and 24 years of age; that is a staggering 23.75 crore young people. Close to half of them do not even complete high school, and 49.6 million of them are unemployed and waiting to enter the world of work.

The inability to source decent employment opportunities deteriorates the faith of the youth in the Indian education system; which is ultimately making them prone to the vicious circle of poverty and dissatisfaction.

However, with a steep rise in the inception of social entrepreneurs in the education sector, there has been a paradigm shift in building self-reliance and skill-development in the youth. We  continue to trace the journey of social entrepreneurs who are revolutionising education at different growth stages of students.

Age Group  15 – 18

  1.    Priya Agrawal, Antarang Foundation

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Around 1 million youngsters turn 18 every month, of whom an overwhelming 50% do not complete high school. Over time, this has resulted in millions of young adults who can neither afford higher education nor secure decent employment.

What then happens to these young minds? Some indulge in delinquent behaviour, while others are forced to work in exploitative conditions. A stumbling 55,000 youth give into substance addiction every day. 1,17,000 new jobs are created every single quarter, and an acute shortage of skills has been reported across all sectors to fulfill these jobs. This is where Antarang Foundation comes into play.

With the vision of a world where every young person is passionate, productive and positively engaged in a career of their choice, Priya Agrawal put the cornerstone of Antarang Foundation in 2013. Through two career-focused programmes, CareerAware and Career Ready, the Foundation works to bridge the employability gap that exists by engaging with underprivileged youth. The programmes deliver career guidance, develop core employability skills, and finally link students with career opportunities.

“We have reached 8400+ young adults from 14 – 15 years of age through our CareeReady and CareerAware programmes, of which more than 2500 students are trained in employability skills and linked to career opportunities. We have painstakingly created 27 career service centers and partnered with even more organisations; making Antarang Foundation the first-of-its-kind,” shares Priya.

Pirya conducts a Job Ready Career Planning Programme which is aimed at the youth between the ages of 14 and 21 years who are currently enrolled in night schools and colleges. It spans 15 hours delivered across 5 sessions to develop the student’s self-awareness, expose them to career options and help them arrive at career plans. The students are then counseled one-on-one, giving each one a detailed counseling report.

Owing to their unique initiative complemented with an indomitable will, Antarang has grown significantly.

 

  1.   Age Group  15 – 22

Aman Sharma, TEACH

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People who are hearing impaired face numerous educational barriers. In India, there are about 19 lakh children who are hearing impaired or deaf and out of that 19 lakhs, only 12 lakhs have access to basic schooling. The picture for the remaining 7 lakhs is truly gloom. They are pushed to live a life of dependency and turmoil.

However, Aman Sharma decided to build a platform that would enable students who are hearing impaired to gain equal opportunities and pursue careers of their interests. He founded TEACH – a social organisation which aims at educating the hearing impaired.

“After analysing the education scenario in Mumbai, I realised that 200 deaf children pass out SSC without learning English and Mathematics. It is due to the lack of this primary vocational-based training that students are considered incompetent for higher education in English,” highlights Aman.

He goes on to state that, “The situation for such students becomes more difficult because, in India less than 1 %  of colleges or universities are equipped to teach them.”

Aman’s entrepreneurial journey started as he was pursuing his MBA in Business Administration and volunteering for various social organisations. It was then that he realised that none of his classmates were visually or hearing impaired.  

“I looked deep into my surroundings only to find out that owing to the lack of educational facilities, these students never get an opportunity to completely come out of their shell. This pushes them into an inferiority complex,” sighs Aman.

Deeply moved by this situation, Aman took a one month break and joined hands with Dipesh (Co-founder, TEACH) to analyse the challenges faced by students who are hearing impaired in schools. “After a rigorous on-ground research, we found out that the hearing-impaired students were never taught English and Mathematics. This restricted their ability to pursue higher secondary education. According to the government regulations, 1% of the jobs are reserved for the hearing impaired; however, the minimum eligibility is graduation. Keeping in view the fact that these students never learn English and Mathematics, it is a rare case scenario for them to be  graduates; making it impossible for them to reap the benefits of the reservations,” informs Aman.

With the view to curbing this menace, Aman and Dipesh initiated TEACH which undertakes higher education programmes for the hearing-impaired students. “What started with just 20, is today a classroom of 71 students. We start the education process by taking a pre-test of the students of English and mathematics, followed by psychometric and basic academics tests,” says Aman.

They have recently partnered with Miland Rotary School for Deaf, where they have created a School Transformation Project which is purely for the deaf students between the classes of 2nd – 7th. Their association has contributed massively towards taking the status of the deaf students on an upward growth trajectory.

3. Age group: 22 and above

Chris Turillo, Medha Foundation

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The challenge of ending gender inequality traces its roots from the pages of history. However, the world is developing at a fast pace and the social evils are seen to be faded to a large extent. Contributing his bit to the growth and development of the society, is Christopher Turillo, an alumnus of the University of Chicago, who envisions to build an India with equal career opportunities for youth; irrespective of gender, class or caste.

Christopher along with Byomkesh, founded Medha Foundation when they met at SKS Microfinance in Hyderabad.

Instituting the Business Development Department at SKS required Chris and Byomkesh to hire and train a lot of young people who were mostly 10th /12th Grade pass and hailed from a rural background. They really enjoyed this aspect of training and mentoring these young hires along with working in a fast-paced entrepreneurial environment, and ever since then, there has been no turning back.

“Jobs, as we know, are a powerful driving force for the youth. As for these young hires at SKS, they had great career aspirations but were facing a lot of challenges in meeting their aspirations because of many socio-economic reasons. So, we realized that this problem between a job-aspirant and a job exists at a much wider scale. This realization matched with our inclination to guide and mentor young people, which inspired us to do something in the field of education and employment; which eventually lead to the incorporation of Medha in 2011,” informs Turillo.

Currently focusing on 10 cities/towns in Uttar Pradesh, along with the cities of Karnal and Patna, Medha aids the students through employability training which incubates Career Advancement Bootcamp (CAB), Life Skills Advancement Bootcamp (LAB), Technology Advancement Bootcamp (TAB), Placement Support (Lifetime), Unlimited Internships, Career Counseling, and an array of Job Opportunities.

However, they had to face various challenges while putting the building blocks of Medha in place. “From approaching colleges to get a buy-in, to convincing the Government institutes to partner with us was not at all an easy task,” states Turillo.

He also highlights the staple patriarchy prevailing in this geographical belt which proved to be another major hindrance. However, as it’s said, where there is a will, there is a way. They were soon able to scale their programme by signing an agreement with the Government to work with 15 public institutes.  These public institutes gave them specific time slots to hold their classes, which soon led to an increase in the number of registrations. So, they paved their way to impact the lives of over 5000 young people ever since their social organisation’s inception.

In today’s era of rapid development, women are seen to be the trailblazers in almost every sector of the society and the students of Medha Foundation have proven that women are the real architects of the society.

As the continuous mentorship and guidance of UnLtd India gave these organisations the critical resources, the success of these entrepreneurs stands testament to the immense potential of UnLtd India’s year-long Incubation Programme. Specialisers in personalised coaching along with access to mentors, experts, and peer learning, come, join the revolution today!

Apply here: http://bit.ly/UnLtdForm

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