In India, adolescents reach the legal working age of 15 when in Class 9. Many drop out after the compulsory eight years of school, or earlier, leading to a skills deficit. Youth unemployment due to lack of skills and poverty is a long term challenge for India. A study by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in 2015, where 100,000 youth appeared for an Employability Skills Test across domains, found only 40% employable. The Census of India shows that youth from poorer strata of society are not in the labour force due to lack of resources, skills, familial constraints and their poor economic conditions. The state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) has the lowest per capita GDP ($289) of India’s 28 states. After implementation of the Right to Education Act, school enrolment rates went up in UP, yet learning outcomes and attendance rates in secondary school remain poor (65.6%). A UNICEF-sponsored South Asia regional study, “All Children in School by 2015”, noted that UP, among 4 other states, has significantly higher rates of girl dropout than the national average. It says that school exclusion is “considerably more prevalent among Muslim and dalit children” - girls attend the poorest performing educational institutions because their families prefer to invest in the education of boys, and face family and social pressure to get married. They are pressured to accept certain kinds of jobs, significantly reducing their career options. The school education system focuses on exam results rather than on skill development or preparedness for higher education and jobs. Training on career planning and guidance for secondary school and higher education are not imparted in government schools because most are understaffed, have few teaching resources, lack infrastructure to deliver 21st century life skills and teachers are not trained to impart this knowledge.
Founded in 2011, Medha provides skills training, career counselling, placement and job exposure for college, polytechnic and vocational training students. The population that Medha works with are young people studying in government schools who belong to low income urban families. Most of the students belong to vulnerable minorities such as Muslim and Dalit households. By partnering with the government of Uttar Pradesh, global foundations and corporations, they work at the intersection of education and livelihoods to link youth with employment opportunities. Since 2011, Medha has trained and placed over 3000 students, worked with 50 leading employers, and built a public-private partnership with the Department of Higher Education. With EMpower support last year, they began an employability training program for girls in secondary schools in Lucknow. Prior to founding Medha, the co-founders, Chris Turillo and Byomkesh Misra, worked as the directors of business development at SKS Microfinance in Hyderabad, where they successfully launched SKS’ Health Insurance and Urban Microfinance products as well as managed a number of additional growth related projects including mobile banking. Medha aims to reach 20,000 students across 6 states in the next three years.
EMpower’s 3rd grant to Medha will operationalize learnings from EMpower’s Mini University on Girl-centered Programming in their core work through creating a knowledge team and standardizing their program, curriculum, training, M&E and knowledge dissemination, to expand their school-based Lifeskills Advancement Bootcamp program in 6 states. This grant will continue to support 70 girls and 30 boys to complete secondary school and acquire lifeskills to pursue education and career goals.
Primary Location: Uttar Pradesh
Funded Since: 2015
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