Approximately 3 million young people graduate from high schools across the country each year. Whilst even secondary education may be considered a privilege for several young people, the future prospects are often still not as bright as they should and could be. As per information provided by The Family India Foundation, only 20–30% of these graduates are what they classify as employable. The remaining portion, often from socio-economically weaker sections of society are unemployed due to inaccessibility to resources that would enable them to acquire skills like spoken English, basic use of computers, presentation and communication skills, essential for them to retain gainful employment.
The Ranjan Project is a personality development and skill building program aimed at helping some of these less privileged youth adopt skills that can help them become ‘employable.’ Besides the 4–month program, the project also provides assistance to these students to prepare professional personal resumes, as well as find jobs suitable to their qualifications and abilities. Each of the students attending the program are a major part of their families hope for increased income, and therefore the support provided by the project enables the upward mobility of their whole family. Sumeet for example, is one of a family of five. His father is a driver, and earns a salary of Rs. 6000/- but attending the course has aided him in getting a job that has resulted in the doubling of his family’s income.
Besides lessons in the classroom setting, sessions include field trips to areas of work such as BPOs, as well as various games and exercises intended to help foster skills required to work in a team and that is where VOICES comes in. VOICES, the School Project of The YP Foundation is a peer education project that aims at developing stronger life skills and informed decision making in school going adolescents by providing a safe, non-judgmental space for them to express and formulate their attitudes on issues relevant to them. Bringing these two fairly diverse areas of work together, led to an extremely interesting collaboration between The YP Foundation and The Ranjan Project this month.
Diversifying from the target audience the project has worked with in the past, the VOICES team is conducting a 4-part module with the 28 students enrolled at ‘Vidya Ankur Social Centre’ in Badarpur. The modules consist entirely of interactive and exciting exercises that enable the students to explore the various elements of communication such as the choice of words, body language, tone, etc. Besides identifying these components, the modules also enable the students to develop an understanding of what effective communication entails, as well as create a space for them to apply this understanding.
Despite the nervous jitters and this being a previously entirely unexplored area of work, the response from the students at the centre has been enthusiastic and heartening, at the very least. The students are eager to learn from external facilitators, as well as each other, and make the most of every opportunity. Their learning and receptiveness to the information is clearly reflected in their feedback, as well as their ability to apply it whilst participating in consequent activities. As Sunita, a student at the centre said at the end of the first session, “Today we learnt what is communication and what is the right way to communicate so that other people understand our thoughts.”
On the whole, we are extremely happy with the way this partnership has panned out, and are looking forward to a more long-term collaboration in the coming year.
VOICES – The School Project