The power of youth is the commonwealth for the entire world. The faces of young people are the faces of our past, our present and our future. No segment in the society can match with the power, idealism, enthusiasm and courage of the young people.
The transition from youth to adulthood marks a key period characterized by greater economic independence, political involvement, and participation in community life. However, the socioeconomic and political environment in which young people live can have a serious impact on their ability to engage.
A staggering number of young people are not in education, employment or training, delaying their full socioeconomic integration. The lack of effective economic and employment policies and insufficient job creation has left many young people with no option but to accept part-time, temporary or informal work. At the same time, outdated education systems are ill equipped to meet the changing and diverse needs of today’s labour market. Inadequate training and skill obsolescence translate into limited job prospects for youth—even when the economy improves.
India’s social transformation largely depends on the engagement of youth in an innovative way by providing them with the right platform to harness their capabilities into positive action.
India, despite having one of the highest adolescent and youth populations in the world still haven’t utilised this valuable resource to its fullest. Youth is the second most vulnerable population in lesser privileged communities, after children. Even though every youngster aspires to achieve education, secure jobs and be independent, under dire circumstances some might be forced to choose to earn means of living when presented with a tough choice between education and livelihood. But does that mean they don’t deserve a second chance to complete education? Don’t they deserve to have fine mentors and motivated individuals around them to support them, to uplift them with skills and knowledge, to let them see their true potential which they never had the privilege to look upon?
VIDYA’s Youth Program envisages making the youngsters’ dreams, which were put aside, a reality. With the Youth Program in the communities, they have a ray of hope to finish their studies and to accomplish their goals in life. Keeping these things in mind, Youth Forum was seeded.
Youth Forum is the latest initiative taken by VIDYA to work more closely with the community youth in a non-formal environment. It caters to age group of 15-35 years. It started in January 2016. The total enrolment averages 70-100. Alumni of Beyond School and Youth from Digital Empowerment Program and Open School Program and other youth from the community are part of this forum.
Youth Forum, which began in January 2016 has come a long way since then. It started out by just 20 Youth initially. After the students’ completion of 10th grade, they are slowly getting closer to ending with our Beyond School program and have to begin preparing to pursue higher education and employment opportunities. Therefore, the Youth Forum becomes guiding agent for these youth to understand how to navigate their educational and employment journey. Youth Forum prepares these students with life &Soft skill sessions, workshops that focus on essential skills and knowledge to be prepared for the competitive workforce and college journey.
Along with preparing the youth is emphasizing giving back to the community and being a contributing member. Every student has successfully secured a job or pursued their studies further. Youth also have been able to acquire necessary life skills & soft skills along with the requisite employability skills through the Youth forum.
The Youth Forum is targeted at students (alumni or youth from the communities that VIDYA works with) from the age group 15 – 35 years aiming to mould them into leaders and socially responsible productive citizens. The forum meets twice or thrice a week. The average enrolment is 60 per year. Our alumni of Beyond School and Youth from our Digital Empowerment Program and Open School Program are part of this forum. The focus is on soft skills, life skills, career guidance, vocational training, and project-based learning.
Youth development programs seek to improve the lives of children and adolescents by meeting their basic physical, developmental, and social needs and by helping them to build the competencies needed to become successful adults. The focus is on Academic assistance through Volunteers, soft skills, life skills, career guidance, vocational training, and project-based learning. The VIDYA Team completes the flow by identifying suitable growth opportunities either in the field of further education, vocational training, placement assistance, career-ready courses through collaboration with partner agencies such as Anatarang, Reliance Foundation etc.
Youth are trained and made employable through various courses such as Job ready course through Partner organization, improvement in soft skill through various sessions, IT skills are enhanced through DEP Program at VIDYA. Later, Placement assistance is provided to youth as per the age, eligibility and criteria.
VIDYA Youth Program students have been participating in the Youth festival organised by Sneha Foundation in various categories such as Debate, Street play, Poster making, Photography etc. VIDYA Youth Program has won the overall competition in Jan 2020 and Jan 2021. Youth Forum has been more than 6 prizes in all the categories which increases their overall tally and making them the overall winners. Youth Forum are the defending champions currently.
Winning students received certificates and monetary prize which were couriered along with the Rolling (Rotating trophy)
Covid Relief Initiative by Youth Forum Students
The Covid-19 pandemic has not only caused havoc in the public health system but also led the country into a deep socio-economic crisis. The pandemic in cities has unquestionably added to the chronic distress among the urban poor living in slums and made them more vulnerable.
The second wave of Covid-19 abruptly hit Mumbai while it was recovering from the wounds of the first wave. On April 4, the city reported 11,163 positive cases, its highest single-day spike leaving the state government no choice but to deliberate on stringent lockdown measures. As affluent sections of the society locked themselves in, poor slum dwellers could not afford to do so.
VIDYA works in Mumbai slums, in and around the Powai region which comes under the ‘S’ ward. VIDYA Mumbai youth task force identified the challenges prevailing like the lack of Beds, oxygen, ambulance etc.
Therefore, we at VIDYA have created a task force and helpline number which will help the communities in ‘S’ ward for all those things such as
• Availability of beds
• Oxygen concentrators as per the availability.
– Vaccine awareness and registration.
The task force also served in Food distribution and device distribution whenever needed.
IIT Abhudya initiated social awareness program in collaboration with BMC. This included cleaning the Powai lake and awareness session by BMC followed by Q&A. Youth forum students participated in this initiative. It started from 7:15 till 9:00. After that students gathered at Powai Udyan for awareness session by BMC.
BMC staff member spoke about what they are doing to solve the problem such as using Ingress. This is used for cleaning the Powai lake water and making it less toxic and reducing the amount of Hyacinth.
Shilpa Rajkumar Shukla joined VIDYA in 7th standard and learnt about it through friends who used to attend classes at the NGO. She comes from an economically weak background as her father is
auto-rickshaw driver and her mother is a homemaker. She also has an elder brother and a younger sister. Shilpa has done her 10th from Mumbai public high school and joined the Youth forum in 2017. She received a scholarship from VIDYA in her 10th standard and cleared her 12th science with 87%. She aspires to become a pediatrician in the future and is working hard to accomplish that dream of hers.
VIDYA has helped in financing her studies and improve her academics score. Being from HINDI MEDIUM school, she faced heavy difficulties in understanding and speaking in English. VIDYA made sure she never misses anything due to language barriers. The Volunteers at VIDYA always had her back and helped mentoring her. From having really bad stage fright to becoming a confident speaker, Shilpa has definitely come a long way with the help of VIDYA.
Tejaswini is doing her B.com from Vikas College. She joined VIDYA in 7th standard. Her mother is a domestic helper and her father is a watchman. She has a brother and a sister. She did her schooling till 7th standard in the BMC school Mumbai. She learnt about VIDYA from her cousin.
After her 10th, she joined the Youth Forum and continued her studies. Joining VIDYA was the decision that has changed her life. After working very hard, her parents could only make both ends meet and couldn’t have afforded to get her educated any further. She never got bored of studies in VIDYA and she enjoyed her classes.
She got to learn something new each day. VIDYA has helped her grow as a person. The Youth Forum has taught her how to speak, give interviews, explore the outside world etc. VIDYA has helped her not only in academics but also in the field of Sports. She got to learn sports through the weekly sports classes that were held. She has also made tons of friends and memories. She says that teachers here have helped her overcome her fear of maths and Spoken English along with other subjects. She says that she would never lose touch with VIDYA and would come back here always. She is also one of the scholarship recipients from VIDYA which helped her to pay her fees and to continue her education.
She took inspiration from one of the sessions at Youth forum on World’s Toilet Day. Her whole community uses the public bathroom which is in bad condition. She with the help of her siblings made her parents build a separate toilet for her family. Although it took up space at home, they said it feels good that they have their own toilet and girls feel safe.
Sonal Ghodge, currently in SYBMS is a very bright student. joined VIDYA in 2014. She scored 73.20% in SSC from Marathi Medium and 82% in HSC. Sonal and her family lives in the slum areas of Powai at Hari Om Nagar. She has one sister and two brothers. One of the brothers has mild intelligence retardation. She comes from a poor background. Her house does not have a toilet in the house. They use public bathrooms. Sonal’s father has a Vada pav stall near Kanjur station. Her mother is a homemaker. Sonal wants to become HR and is inclined towards Business Management.
Sonal is an outspoken girl. She joined VIDYA in 2014 and later joined the Youth Forum in 2016. She loves the activities taken at VIDYA and participates in every activity. She loves to communicate. Her English is pretty good. She won first prize in debate competition at Yuvanaad competition held by Sneha Foundation. She is excellent in studies. She will be the first to raise her hand on giving feedback or asking questions. She does not hesitate to ask questions, to take the first step. During this pandemic, she has been helping her family with everything she could, she is looking for a job so that she can support her father as her father’s vada-pav stall is no longer functional.
Sonal is very dedicated to any work she takes up. She attends all the sessions at VIDYA. Facilitators from the USA are impressed with her dedication, effort, and discipline towards her work in Spoken English classes. She has thanked VIDYA for always giving her platform to nurture her growth and guiding her whenever she is stuck.