In India, adolescents reach the legal working age of 14 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. In a study carried out by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in 2017, where 150,000 youth appeared for an Employability Skills Test across domains, only 41% were found 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. UP’s literacy rate of 69.72 percent is India’s eighth lowest in India. UNESCO in its 2018 report noted that most children drop out of school with leading the ranking with 1.6 million out-of-school children in India among other 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 fourth of UP’s 200 million people are between five and 14 years – India’s largest child population – but the state has the fewest teachers per student ratio, the poorest transition rate from primary to upper primary school and amongst the lowest learning outcomes in the country.
A UNICEF-sponsored South Asia regional study, “All Children in School”, 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 (formerly known as untouchables) 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. Girls are pressured to accept certain kinds of jobs, significantly reducing their career options.
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 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 directors of business development at SKS Microfinance in Hyderabad, where they successfully launched SKS’ Health Insurance and Urban Microfinance products and managed a number of additional growth related projects including mobile banking. Medha aims to reach 20,000 students across 6 states in the next 3 years.
EMpower’s 4TH grant to Medha will continue to operationalize its refined program design, curriculum and M&E plan with inputs from a knowledge team, to expand their school-based Lifeskills Advancement Bootcamp program in 6 states. This grant will continue to support 140 girls and 60 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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