Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much
- Hellen Keller
The youth today is confused, unsure and are now questioning the value they derive from the education they are currently acquiring or had previously acquired. In this regard, the role of the educational institutions and the educators dramatically needs to change. As an effort to find an answer to the burning question, ‘What is the purpose of education?’, the Young Leaders Program germinated in 2017. It soon branched into forming communities of facilitators who started enabling the learning of youth. The program brings the focus back to the learner and demands the learner to take responsibility for their learning. Hence the objective of the Young Leaders Program is to enable them to become conscious, creative and lifelong learners wherein they innovate, adapt to the challenges and become self-driven leaders.
Our program aims at building leadership through conscious, continuous learning in young adults, through a process of facilitation in a group learning format. During this journey of sessions over 6 months, the youth connect with themselves as well as with other self-aware and driven individuals like themselves. Together they explore the depths of leadership and take responsibility for themselves and their surroundings. They commit to deepening their understanding of themselves and thereby strengthening their practice.
Each group has a facilitator of learning, who (as against being a sage on the stage in the traditional model of teaching) is a ‘guide by side’. He/She enables the learning through a series of meta-questions which the learner then reflects, contextualizes, practises and synthesises for themselves. The learner gains a practice that helps them to explore and expand their knowledge as well as obtain a means to continuously learn. This keeps the learner in good stead for whatever uncertainty the future holds for them.
The framework stems from the four pillars of education laid down by UNESCO- Learning to Be, learn, work and live together. Through 10 sessions(once in every alternate week), the youth goes through a journey from exploring their strengths, values, learning needs and style, to discovering their Ikigai as well as to the aspect of giving and receiving feedback. Concepts like time management, goal setting, exploring trust etc are embedded in the program. With the amalgamation of various tools such as reflective questions, assessments, activities and mindfulness practice, facilitators enable the learning of the participants. Special focus is given to the project which every learner takes up from the second session. This project emerges from a challenge they are facing in their personal/academic areas.
Once a youth undergoes the Young Leaders Program, he/she can choose to get trained as a facilitator to enable the learning of teenagers. The selection of youth at this stage also depends on the discretion of their facilitators. The selected youth are taken through a 5-week journey to enable the facilitator competencies in them. They learn the art of asking the right questions, mindful listening, managing space, energy, time, and synthesising the learnings of their participants.
Once the youth are trained to facilitate teenagers, they are paired among themselves and given responsibility for a group of 10-12 teenagers. These teenagers get enrolled through an application process from different government schools and NGOs, particularly focusing on the underprivileged sections of society.
As part of the program, the youth go through a process to build their profiles through which they can create opportunities in organisations/industries according to their strengths and competencies. The idea is to help them get closer to their ‘Swadharma’ aligned with their ‘Swabhava’. The youth are also mapped with people who mentor them 1-1 according to their learning needs.
To keep the community engaged and growing, experts are invited to share on various topics according to the learning needs of the youth. These topics may range from soft skills such as communication and building confidence to hard skills such as coding and digital marketing. The objective is to make them industry-ready in a holistic way.
This is a platform for the youth to share their learnings, reflections and initiatives with the whole world. We host these sessions biweekly on zoom which also get broadcasted through our Facebook page.
Youth and teenagers who are a part of the programs get access to Krya, our learning management system through which they can have access to the reading/AV material in between 2 sessions. They can also record their learnings on their (individual) profiles which get created at the start of the program.
What is the
A FIRST STEP FORWARD
2020 saw the Young Leaders Program take a fresh step forward collaborating with youth from two organisations – Vidhya Gyan and Prayas. Both organisations supported youth from communities that were socially or economically disadvantaged.
8 facilitators enabled the learning of 40 youth (30 college students, 10 school students).
The program initially started physically but due to COVID-19, the program had to be paused for a brief time and restarted online.
The pandemic brought in new challenges and the program went beyond merely facilitating the learning of the youth.
The youth had to go back to their villages. They were now dealing with the challenges of balancing their studies along with additional responsibilities at home. Their college classes had moved online but internet connectivity and electricity were not available to them when needed.
They were also suddenly present to how lack of information and misinformation were posing a serious threat to the health of the people in their villages
The youth in the program took this as an opportunity to step up their leadership and facilitated the learning of COVID appropriate behaviour among their communities.
Facilitators on the other hand extended support beyond the structure of the program itself.
Based on the needs of the youth, rations and financial support were provided for participant families who had to migrate out of Delhi.
Where the internet connectivity was a challenge, facilitators enabled the program to shift mediums – used conference calls to facilitate the program.
Some of the youth couldn’t continue their studies as they did not have smartphones. Facilitators pooled in resources to help them buy smartphones.
Facilitators connected medical resources to youth and their families in need.
9 young leaders from this cohort are now volunteering to facilitate school children and enable their learning.
PROFILES OF YOUTH COHORT – 2021
We conducted a survey for 100+ students PAN India to understand their challenges. The common challenges emerged as social media addiction, conflicts with parents, lack of focus, emotional upheavals to mention a few. The programs help the youth to develop focus, discover their strengths, develop entrepreneurial skills, become emotionally intelligent, manage relationships, and provide them with a community of self-driven learners. The program is well-aligned with New Education Policy which stresses experiential learning, integrated pedagogy, and peer tutoring. In a way, the program facilitates the holistic development of the youth.
Partnership with YALE Alumni Service Corps.
With the partnership of the YALE Alumni Service Corps who came forward to volunteer for this program, we got another feather in the cap. The training for facilitator developers from the India-US cohort commenced in early March this year post which the YLP program was conducted for college students from different institutes like NIFT and NGOs. These NGOs included Manzil, DBM, Diksha Foundation, Learning by Locals, Pravah, Youth Alliance to name a few. The idea was to create a ripple effect thereby creating self-driven learning communities.
In Oct 2021, Teen Leaders Program started for 14 groups (12 students in each).
A set of facilitator developers (entrepreneurs/professionals/educators) volunteered their time to facilitate 26 youth facilitators.
The ripples of learning expand within groups becoming a beautiful example of decentralized learning and distributed leadership.
YLP has impacted 350+ students in the last 5 years.