Education and empowerment are vital cogs in a society’s quality of life. The status of a nation’s education and how it empowers its citizens aids poverty alleviation. Improving education and empowerment programmes serves the greater good and is sustainable. YUVA has adopted powerful ways to re-invent education in India. In this article, we will show you how.
Education in India
In the last ten years, the learning outcomes for Indian children have steadily declined. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) studies the state of the education system and reports on learning levels, enrolment rates, and significant gaps in the system, among other things.
The 2020 ASER report stated that 5.3% of rural children aged 6-10 years were not enrolled in a school that year. According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), in India, 29% of 100 children drop out of school before completing their entire cycle of elementary education. Most times, these are children from marginalised communities. 50% of adolescents don’t complete secondary education, and 20 million children do not attend preschool. This means nearly 50 million children are not at their grade-appropriate learning levels. School readiness at the age of 5 is also below the expected levels.
Empowerment in India
Women and girls in India find themselves at the bottom of India’s recent economic development. A National Family and Health Survey between 2019 and 2021 pointed out that despite women constituting a majority of the population, they face many challenges rooted in societal gender roles. This translates into discrimination and gender inequality. Empowering women in India can help combat this.
India ranks 140th out of 153 nations on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index of 2021, making it the third-worst performer in South Asia. The number of women in the workforce decreased from 24.8% to 22.3%. This is across public and private sectors, where women in senior and managerial positions also remain low. The report also stated that Indian women earn just one-fifth of men. One in four Indian women also experiences intimate partner violence at least once. Although strides have been made in achieving gender parity, illiteracy rates among women are high. The report stated only 65.8% of women in India are literate compared to 82.4% of men.
A 2016 UNICEF report also said that only 12.7% of women in India own properties in their name, despite 77% of women depending on agricultural work as their primary source of income. The economic empowerment of Indian women benefits everyone. The International Monetary Fund has estimated that equal participation in the country’s workforce could increase India’s gross domestic product by 27%. Laws exist to protect women and girls, but enforcement is weak, especially in rural India than in urban settings. This is worrying as India has a rural population of around 65.97.
Women’s empowerment needs political will, and a more concerted effort is required to close the urban-rural divide to ensure the rural areas have the same access to education, employment, healthcare and decision-making as their urban counterparts. A societal mindset change is also needed to change attitudes that view women as lesser than men.
Two out of four critical pillars at YUVA are education and empowerment. As Africa’s largest non-profit organisation, it has the capacity and the will to establish a footprint in India. YUVA helps children finish secondary school and from dropping out. It offers various remedial classes to achieve this. YUVA uses practical support in its education initiatives. It focuses on the basic needs to inform its long-term objectives. It provides school supplies, uniforms, and access to bursaries at all levels. It involves parents in ensuring their children attend classes. Beyond that, it sets up school lunch programmes and tutoring services.
YUVA’s holistic approach has it partnering with existing educational facilities and childhood development centres in the community. It also creates resources like computer labs and libraries to support local school infrastructure.
YUVA takes the same approach to empowerment by empowering children and marginalised communities with practical life skills. This helps in tackling poverty head-on and in their communities. YUVA develops art, music, sports, community service and peers’ education programmes. It focuses on developing life skills like problem-solving and critical thinking. This helps communication and interpersonal skills to cope with stress and conflict resolution. This informs societal mindset change concerning things like discrimination and inequality. YUVA also builds leadership skills by empowering people to head up community initiatives like literacy programmes. It also creates micro-enterprises to challenge views on gender equality.
YUVA’s ethos and mission are grounded in tackling education and empowerment from a practical and mental standpoint. Its interventions intersect all aspects of life and can reinvent the Indian landscape.
YUVA Intern Ling Sheperd is a writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is passionate about social justice and equity.